First responders to shift focus from response to recovery

First responder spending is gradually shifting from emergency response to recovery operations, an industry official said at meeting today of the Washington, D.C., Technology Council.

The shift means that fewer dollars are flowing to firefighters and more is flowing to law enforcement, said Jeff Ellis, homeland security program manager for Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md. He spoke on a panel of analysts and industry experts on homeland security spending with state and local government.

The change in focus comes at a time when the flow of funding to the states has improved because of a new office within the Homeland Security Department tasked with grant distribution, said Dena Kisala, vice president of market development services with the market research firm Input Inc., Reston, Va. The Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness coordinates the programs and policies for funding and information sharing with state and local governments.

The president's proposed fiscal 2005 budget contains $3.86 billion in funding for first responders, which is essentially the same as 2004, Kisala said.

But nearly all of the projects funded will require information technology components, she said.

The National Technology Transfer Center is seeing growing demand among first responders for 3-D tracking and location systems for personnel as well as casualty and patient care data and monitoring systems and other decision support systems, said Mike Lucey, manager of the center's Emergency Response Technology Program. The program supports DHS by evaluating new and emerging technologies.

Although funds are flowing more freely now with less red tape, companies should expect business to slow down after the November presidential election when key personnel changes take place in federal agencies, Ellis said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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