January 10, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

Eddy Highlights AI, Analytics, Emergency Management

Panel explores future of emergency operations

Photo of Ryan Eddy

In a panel at the GovAI Summit 2023, Director for Homeland Security Programs Ryan Eddy highlighted how AI can improve analytics for emergency management operations.

(Image by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Just as fast as technology is changing, so is the threat landscape. More frequent and intense disasters put pressures on emergency operations centers (EOCs) to rapidly share and analyze data that informs decision-making. At the GovAI Summit 2023, a panel with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and other emergency management practitioners discussed how science and technology—specifically artificial intelligence (AI)—can help.

“Technology is a changing opportunity space for emergency preparedness and response, and we see that more than ever with the current emergence of AI. This panel was a great chance to focus on both the challenges and opportunities AI presents for emergency managers and first responders who help keep us safe,” said Ryan Eddy, PNNL director of homeland security programs.

The panel, “The EOC of the Future: How AI Will Transform Emergency Ops,” explored how AI can help emergency management advance from data overload to prediction and adjustment.

“With today’s tools, there is a lot of data that can inform decision-making, but emergency managers need to be able to access it and use it—and fast. At PNNL, we are enabling secure, trustworthy, science-based AI and machine learning programs to advance capabilities, particularly in image analysis and cyber defense,” Eddy said.

Eddy’s presentation, "Artificial Intelligence Science and Technology for Emergency Management," highlighted PNNL AI tools and analysis capabilities, such as Rapid Analytics for Disaster Response, which combines image-capturing technology, AI and cloud computing to assess damage and predict risks during extreme events, and Sharkzor tool, which is an AI-driven, scalable web application that makes it possible to quickly characterize and sort electron microscopy images used to analyze radioactive materials.

Eddy was joined on the panel by Executive Director for the DHS S&T Office of Science and Engineering Daniel Cotter, Director for Enterprise Analytics and Chief Data Officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Christa Montani, Bob Greenberg from G&H International Services, 311 Operations Director for the Town of Cary, NC Ryan Hargreaves, and Assistant Town Manager of the Town of Cary, NC Dan Ault.

During the panel, Eddy and Cotter also highlighted the Emergency Management of Tomorrow Research Program in which PNNL is collaborating DHS S&T to better understand first responder technology requirements to inform future technology planning and development for EOC operations.

“The best way to understand how AI is impacting, or could impact, EOCs is to talk to the people who use them and crosswalk that with the latest research and technology trends,” Eddy said. “We are actively connecting with first responders and emergency managers to understand their concerns, barriers, and potential opportunities with AI, and then translating that into useful information to inform future research.”

Published: January 10, 2024