An Agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Emergency Support Team (VEST) Status Yellow, Monitoring

VEOC Activation Status: Yellow, Monitoring

Planning

The Planning Division provides both strategic and operational planning as well as intelligence and information sharing for VDEM. Planning provides a methodical manner to engage the whole community in preparedness efforts through the lifecycle of emergency and disaster preparedness. It helps determine required capabilities; identify gaps in capabilities; and establishes a framework for operationalizing roles and responsibilities to all hazards protection, prevention, response, recovery, and mitigation activities. The division is comprised of the Strategic Planning Branch, Operational Planning Branch, the Situational Awareness Unit, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Unit, Critical Infrastructure and Private Sector Branch, and the Virginia Fusion Center.

The Virginia Fusion Center

The Planning Division also supports the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC), which is the state’s multi-disciplinary Intelligence Center. The VFC is a collaborative effort between the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. It was created to provide operational and strategic counter terrorism/criminal information and intelligence to law enforcement, military, public safety, governmental, and private sector decision-makers, as well as to the public. VDEM provides personnel to the VFC who assist with intelligence gathering and product development on existing and emerging threats that may affect prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts before, during, and after events and emergencies. More information on the VFC can be found at: https://fusion.vsp.virginia.gov/

The Critical Infrastructure and Private Sector Branch

The Critical Infrastructure and Private Sector Branch (CIPSB) works with both public and private sector partners to develop a comprehensive program through collaborative partnerships that address the security and resilience of critical infrastructure in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This branch works to ascertain risk by identifying threats, assessing vulnerabilities, and determining critical infrastructure consequences to enhance preparedness through protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts. As part of this effort, the branch manages the State Critical Infrastructure Working Group and serves as co-chair on the National Capital Region Critical Infrastructure Working group.

CIPSB is responsible for all Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Preparedness data calls to include the State and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Risk Profile review, Critical Infrastructure nominations, Special Events Data Call, and others. The branch chief serves as the IP Gateway Administrator and the Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) Officer for the Commonwealth. During emergency activations, the branch chief manages the Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) for the VEST and serves as a liaison for the private sector.

The CIPSB also supports the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC), which is the state’s multi-disciplinary Intelligence Center. The VFC is a collaborative effort between the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide operational and strategic counter-terrorism/criminal information and intelligence to law enforcement, military, public safety, governmental, and private sector decision- makers, as well as to the public. VDEM provides personnel to the VFC who assist with intelligence gathering and product development on existing and emerging threats that may affect the prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts before, during, and after events and emergencies.

The Geographic Information Systems Unit

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) unit of the Planning Division supports steady state and disaster operations with geographic information system products for situational awareness, response operations, grants projects distribution, and recovery efforts for individual assistance. The GIS unit uses geospatial technology to collect, manage, analyze, and display information geospatially to provide a visual under- standing of data. This GIS data provides VDEM, the VEST, state agency partners, and the public with real-time information using dynamically updated applications that identify operational readiness, resource status, and deployment of personnel; perform forecasting; and make data-driven decisions for the more effective management of disasters and events. Specific products provided by GIS include:

  1. Know Your Zone Evacuation state routes
  2. Visualization of flood-prone geographies
  3. Operational dashboards for response and recovery data
  4. Geographic distribution of disaster assistance
  5. Location and density of vulnerable populations and
  6. Daily tracking of VDEM-engaged incidents to include hazardous materials, medical flights, and search and rescue missions

The Situational Awareness Unit

Products provided by the GIS drive data-driven decision-making for the Situational Awareness Unit (SAU), the Regional Staff, Response Programs, policymakers, and other state and local agencies. The SAU serves as the 24/7 central point for situational awareness and notification of events occurring across the Commonwealth. The Center coordinates the receipt and dissemination of relevant information to promote coordination among VDEM personnel; the State Fusion Center; state, local, and federal agencies; state emergency operations centers (EOC) nationwide; and federal homeland security and emergency response agencies. The SAU also serves as the state warning point for Virginia’s two nuclear power stations and is the link to the federal government for the Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS). Information shared by the SAU to its partner agencies includes:

  • Situational awareness of ongoing events and incidents
  • Operational planning for imminent emergencies
  • Status reporting of events and resource requests
  • Public safety personnel tracking
  • Off-hour notification for state agencies
  • Government alerts and warnings
  • External emergency communications

SAU analysts must assess threats; monitor emerging events and emergency incidents; coordinate medical flights, search and rescue missions, hazardous materials responses, and technical rescue teams in order to assist local response personnel and agencies across the state; and provide a continuous stream of information to agency response personnel, state agencies, and decision-makers. To coordinate this information sharing, the SAU staff monitors social and traditional media information feeds; telephone hotlines; and direct communications with first responders, local governments, emergency managers, Virginia State Police and other state agencies, as well as the private sector. The SAU is the around-the clock entity at VDEM that links local, state, federal, non-governmental, and private sector partners through regular communication to enhance preparedness, response, and recovery coordination.

The Strategic Planning Branch’s responsibilities include the development and maintenance of the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP), its Hazard Specific Annexes and Support Annexes, the Commonwealth’s Continuity of Government Plan, the State Hazard Mitigation Plan, the Commonwealth’s Recovery Plan, and VDEM’s Continuity of Operations Plan. Strategic Planning also leads the Commonwealth’s emergency management accreditation, the annual Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA), the State Preparedness Report (SPR), and the Local Capabilities and Readiness Assessment.

Resources