March 4, 2021

PNNL Debuts Tool to Explore National Response Framework

Tool visually explores guidance for response to all types of disasters

Emergency response

NRF-PLAT allows users to explore the National Response Framework that guides national response to all types of disasters and emergencies.

(Photo by Tashi-Delek |

When a disaster strikes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Framework outlines an organized process for response. To more easily navigate the framework, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) designed the National Response Framework Policy Landscape Analysis Tool (NRF-PLAT) to visually capture the document’s 470-plus requirements, recommendations, and other elements.

“The declaration of an emergency triggers a complex set of interactions among federal, state, local, tribal, and non-government organizations as well as individuals. Our tool was designed to make those complexities, and ultimately our nation’s response processes, easier to understand,” said Kristin Omberg, group leader of PNNL’s Chemical and Biological Signatures group.  

A team of PNNL scientists and engineers analyzed the intricacies of the framework and translated its structure—nearly 100 pages of text—into a user-friendly, no-cost visualization tool. Users can view and visually parse the framework’s many elements in the form of icicle and sunburst charts.

Screenshot of NRF-PLAT sunburst visualization. (Visualization by Lyndsey Franklin | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

“The visualizations more easily convey, for example, the requirements assigned to the federal government versus individuals, families, and households for a particular disaster response,” said Yavana Ganesh, post-bachelor research associate in PNNL’s Chemical and Biological Signatures group.

The tool builds on PNNL’s previous effort to visualize the complex relationships within the U.S biodefense enterprise. The Biodefense Policy Landscape Analysis Tool (B-PLAT) has been viewed by thousands of unique visitors since its launch in 2018.

“These types of tools are helping make our nation’s guiding documents more accessible to users of all skill levels and interests,” said Justine Spencer, national security specialist in PNNL’s Global Security Technology and Policy group.

The tool is free to use and available to scientists, government officials, and others interested in national response. Click here to access NRF-PLAT directly.


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: March 4, 2021