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FEMA IS-60.B: The Homeland Security Geospatial Concept-of-Operations (GeoCONOPS) for Planners and Decision Makers Course Summary

Course Overview

This course familiarizes the learner with the relevance of the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) GeoCONOPS to principal federal doctrine and focuses on the main message as a resource for:

  • Stakeholders supporting the GeoCONOPS
  • Geospatial data and products
  • Geospatial capabilities and tradecraft
  • Geospatial use cases and best practices

This course includes a detailed presentation of how the GeoCONOPS can be used as a resource to achieve the National Preparedness Goal (PPD-8).

What is the foundation of the HSE GeoCONOPS?

The GeoCONOPS has been adopted into federal doctrine through its inclusion in the National Preparedness Goal (PPD-8). This adoption broadens access and visibility of the GeoCONOPS effort by other missions using geospatial information for decision support.Decision support, enabled by geospatial capabilities, allows situational awareness for understanding location, context, and inter-dependencies necessary for effective integration and information sharing to prepare for specific types of incidents that pose the greatest risk to the nation’s security.

What is the purpose of the GeoCONOPS?

The GeoCONOPS provides a single location for the entire HSE geospatial community to document and access geospatial information. It supplies key elements needed as the foundation for effective plans. The GeoCONOPS provides:

  • A source for trusted geospatial data
  • Identification of missions and stakeholders
  • A source for geospatial best practices
  • Sources for geospatial capabilities and tradecraft

Click this link to view a transcript for ALL videos.

Best Practices – Video Transcript

So in terms of the GeoCONOPS, you know, we have a lot of players, we have a lot of technologies. Disasters by default are chaotic events that involve a milieu of confusion and disruption and interactions and by defining best practices, understanding those authoritative and trusted data sources and leveraging those data sources to produce digestible information that can be consumed – it’s easy to use, it’s easy to understand – should generate better, more informed decision making which should produce better outcomes. That should strengthen our national resiliency and enable communities to better recover and return to normalcy if they are affected by an event.

Technical Capabilities – Video Transcript

At the Red Cross we use simple modeling tools. We really rely on the experts in the modeling field to access the derived products. If somebody else, whether it’s coming from FEMA or other agencies that are doing some sort of model the National Weather Service, we may not have the bandwidth or the expertise to actually do the modeling. What we are looking at is, those derived products. After the experts have looked at it and run those models and the provided some sort of output in the form of data geospatial data that we can use in our systems to then visualize it for our decision makers.  So modeling is very important it is just not our particular area of expertise. So through the GeoCONOPS it allows us to know who is doing modeling and where those modeling data sets are so that we can then bring it into our GIS and take advantage of it to make products for our decision makers.


Authoritative Data – Video Transcript

The GeoCONOPS is very valuable to me currently in my role as the DHS COP program manager. Because it lists the authoritative and trusted data sources for geospatial information related to the Homeland Security mission. One of the things that dramatically improves the quality of the DHS COP is the external data we can connect to and consume and display in the National Operations Center. Without the GeoCONOPS, I would have to go and personally engage with each of the Agencies and partners in Homeland Security mission space to find out what data they had available. The GeoCONOPS has already done all that work for me and it is just a matter of making the technical connections at this point.

Missions and Stakeholders –  Video Transcript

To me the beauty of the GeoCONOPS is it really provides that roadmap to people outside the federal government for how the federal government is looking at geospatial activities. One of the complaints you hear often at the local level is “I just don’t know what to expect when the federal government comes into town.” The Geospatial Concept of Operations, the GeoCONOPS concept is that roadmap for “here’s what’s coming.” And as a local person I can prepare better for that, and be a better partner to the federal agencies knowing how that works. It is exactly what should be done.

What are the benefits of the GeoCONOPS?

The GeoCONOPS supports HSE missions and national preparedness by:

  • Providing access points to existing data and capabilities supporting the mission, thus reducing duplication of efforts
  • Listing stakeholders involved in the mission to allow for communication between agencies
  • Ensuring that ways to access federally derived geospatial information is made available to mission supporters
  • Defining use cases and best practices applicable to mission support

GeoCONOPS: A Product of the Entire Geospatial Community

The GeoCONOPS is a product of the entire geospatial community for all hazards and all threats, and has been developed through the input and commitment of this community.

The GeoCONOPS is a consolidated resource in which the geospatial community can access or identify what data and products are available, who are the stakeholders to support the geospatial HSE mission, and what capabilities, tradecraft, and resources can be used to support the community.

GeoCONOPS: Interagency Oversight

The Geospatial Interagency Oversight Team (GIOT) is comprised of federal geospatial leaders who discuss and guide the development of the HSE GeoCONOPS. The following list includes GIOT member representatives from participating departments, agencies, supporting offices and key programs.

Team members include:

  • US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of Energy (DOE)
  • Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Director of National Intelligence (DNI)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Federal Aviation Association (FAA)
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
  • Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Veteran’s Association (VA)

For more information on interagency oversight:[]

GeoCONOPS: A Common Framework Toward Achieving National Preparedness

Decision support enabled by the GeoCONOPS expands situational awareness for understanding location, context, and inter-dependencies necessary for effective integration and information sharing to prepare for specific types of incidents that pose the greatest risk to the nation’s security. For example, the GeoCONOPS references:

  • GeoPlatform: Shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications for use by the public and by government agencies and partners to meet their mission needs.
  • Geospatial Information Infrastructure (GII): A platform for users to access trusted geospatial data, map services, and geospatial applications in a secure environment.
  • National Preparedness Planning: Scenarios dealing with such topics as law enforcement, earthquakes, etc., that apply geospatial technology for disaster preparation.

GeoCONOPS: A Common Framework Toward Achieving National Preparedness through Networking

Geospatial specialists can use the GeoCONOPS to develop operational plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to support the DHS and PPD-8 missions. It provides the ability to locate numerous stakeholders who can provide assistance and guidance to local, state, and federal geospatial professionals. The potential networking allows for the recognition of what data are available, what capabilities are being used, and what use cases can be supplied to help guide users on their tasks.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Homeland Security Missions

The core homeland security missions include:

  • Prevent terrorism and enhance security
  • Secure and manage our borders
  • Enforce and administer our immigration laws
  • Safeguard and secure cyberspace
  • Ensure resilience to disasters

The HSE GeoCONOPS supports these missions by providing ways to access geospatial data, case studies, subject matter experts, and other resources for people who support the HSE.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Federal Doctrine: PPD-8

The Presidential Policy Directive-8 (PPD-8) describes the nation’s approach to preparing for the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk to the security of the United States.

According to the PPD-8, national preparedness is the shared responsibility of the whole community. Every member contributes, including individuals, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and federal, state, and local governments.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Federal Doctrine: PPD-8

PPD-8 is organized around the following elements:

According to the PPD-8, by working together everyone can keep the nation safe from harm and resilient when struck by hazards such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and pandemics.

The GeoCONOPS is aligned with the PPD-8 core capabilities which are essential for the execution of each of the five mission areas: prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Federal Doctrine: NIMS

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide governmental departments and agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to work seamlessly to reduce the loss of life, property, and harm to the environment. These efforts aim to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity.

Component II, Section C, of NIMS (draft 2007) includes a section dedicated to the critical importance of geospatial information to communication and information management during an incident.

NIMS provides the template for the management incidents, while the National Response Framework (NRF) provides the structure and mechanisms for national-level policy for incident management.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to NIMS

Preparedness, Pre-event Planning, and Coordination:

The GeoCONOPS documents the current environment of the geospatial community supporting HSE missions. This information provides the basis for continued coordination efforts and can assist in the development of updated SOP-type documents.

Resource Management:

The GeoCONOPS supports credentialing of staff and resource requirements.

Coordination and Management:

The GeoCONOPS reduces the duplication of efforts in geospatial data collection and production by providing ways to access trusted geospatial data and products.

Management and Maintenance, Standard and Technology:

The GeoCONOPS provides a venue for the sharing of information related to planning, training, and the development of use cases and best practices.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Federal Doctrine: ICS

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach that:

  • Allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure
  • Enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and functional agencies, both public and private
  • Establishes common processes for planning and managing resources

ICS is flexible and can be used for incidents of any type, scope, and complexity. ICS allows its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure to match the complexities and demands of single or multiple incidents.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to ICS

The ICS is used by all levels of government – federal, state, tribal, and local – as well as by many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. The ICS provides an organizational structure for incident management and guides the process for planning, building, and adapting that structure.

Using the ICS for every incident or planned event helps to hone and maintain skills needed for large-scale incidents. The ICS allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. The GeoCONOPS provides the structure to help identify and align the geospatial resources required to support the NRF, Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), and federal mission partners.

The GeoCONOPS supports homeland security and national preparedness missions with coordination mechanisms to facilitate geospatial information sharing. By defining these, the GeoCONOPS aims to reduce redundancy and confusion as well as ensure efficient access to geospatial information for incident management.

GeoCONOPS Alignment to Federal Doctrine: National Response Framework

Within the NRF, the Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) provide the structure to group capabilities and expertise of departments and agencies for coordinating and support and response to an incident.

The GeoCONOPS identifies essential elements of information (EEI) and authoritative geospatial information that supports each of the ESFs that are identified in the National Response Framework.

Review a list of the ESFs and their capabilities.

GeoCONOPS for Planners and Decision Makers: Summary

The GeoCONOPS was written by the geospatial community and adopted into federal doctrine through the National Preparedness Goal (PPD-8). As a blueprint for planning and problem solving to achieve this goal, the GeoCONOPS provides:

  • Use cases and best practices
  • Missions and stakeholders
  • Trusted geospatial data
  • Geospatial capabilities and tradecraft

The GeoCONOPS includes additional support for other missions including Law Enforcement and Civil Support, as well as information about mission engineering methodology and U.S. National Grid, and the National Exercise and Simulation Center.

Visit the GeoCONOPS website at: