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Data: Frameworks, Uses, Compatibility and Security

What is the intended use of the data collected by the system?

The data is primarily used for analysis and research to improve fire prevention and safety. It aids local, state, and federal agencies in understanding the fire problem and assessing the effectiveness of existing fire protection measures. The data also helps shape policies, educational programs, and resource allocation, and can be used to identify trends and risk factors for public awareness and policy action.

Is NERIS designed to collect and monitor occupational exposure data for first responders, and how detailed will this tracking be?

Yes. In the future, NERIS will include an optional module for capturing a limited set of occupational exposure data. The system will be designed to collect exposure information at the incident level and encourage departments to monitor exposure at the individual responder level.

What is the approach for defining the data elements that will be collected in NERIS, and when will this information be publicly available?

NERIS will have a complete data dictionary for all elements that will be collected plus related terms. Our goal is to use well-established definitions/standards that already exist. This will be shared with the release of NERIS version 1.0 in Fall 2024.

How fast and “real-time” will the data be available?

The data in NERIS will be available in ‘near-real-time’ where appropriate, a speed influenced by various technical factors such as system architecture, fire department participation, user verification, and data security protocols.

The aim is to create a system that delivers the most current, verified data as quickly as practical for fire departments, key stakeholders, relevant government agencies, and end users. It will be a large, quantifiable improvement over the historical performance of NFIRS. Faster data availability will be highly beneficial for analysis, decision-making, and improving emergency response outcomes.

Who retains ownership of the data in this cloud-based system and is aggregated data available for research?

Individual fire departments retain ownership of their data. The system aggregates and analyzes the data, making it available to authorized users through customized views and APIs. While aggregated data views can be used for research and decision-making, the ownership remains with the individual departments.

What is the current progress on developing NERIS’s computer-aided dispatch (CAD) interface schema and incident data schema?

The Entity Specification, CAD interface, and incident data schemas are currently in development. The beta versions of these three schemas are slated for public release in May 2024.

Updated versions of the schemas will be made available periodically, as well as additional schemas for future modules such as Investigations and Exposures. The public versions of the NERIS data schemas will help users understand how data elements align across different modules and will include all necessary element definitions, as well as API documentation and example payloads. Look for further updates throughout 2024.

Will new FDID numbers be issued under NERIS, and if so, what is the reason?

The assignment of new NERIS Entity Identification (ID) numbers will occur through appropriate entity verification processes. For entities that are Fire Departments, issuance of a NERIS Entity ID will involve approval by the respective State Fire Marshal.

Unlike the current state-level FDID numbers, these new IDs will offer unique identification for fire departments on a national scale. This change aims to prevent duplication and confusion, ensuring more accurate data collection.

How is the new NERIS Entity ID Number structured?

The NERIS Entity ID is 10 digit alpha-numeric identifier for entities in the NERIS platform. The first two digits are letters which describe the entity type. Below are two examples:

  • FD is a fire department that provides fire services and may or may not include EMS services
  • FM is a fire marshal, which may be county, state, local, or tribal

The middle five numeric digits are a geographic identifier — the FIPS code for the headquarters location of the entity or organization. The last three numeric digits are randomly generated to ensure uniqueness and to support multiple entities of each type headquartered within the same FIPS code.

Is NERIS incorporating any artificial intelligence (AI) or algorithms into its system?

There are future plans to incorporate relevant, validated machine learning and deep learning models within NERIS to provide the fire services with the more advanced, and actionable data analysis capabilities available.

For example - In the instance that not all fire departments report their incident data, machine learning models may be able provide more accurate estimations on the regional and national levels. Additionally, machine learning models for predictive analysis on fire risk and resource needs may be developed that factor in variables for population changes, urban structural development, forecasted climatic changes, amongst others.

Any AI model being considered for integration within NERIS will be carefully review, tested, and validated. The exact timeline for when NERIS will integrate any AI model is to be determined and is part of the long term NERIS research and development roadmap.

How is the data collected from the system stored and protected? Are there privacy considerations?

Appropriate data protection and data security are top priorities that are being factored into the development of the NERIS's technical architecture. The system will meet all relevant federal and state regulations for secure data handling. The NERIS platform will be hosted by in a secure environment in alignment with FedRAMP Moderate level security parameters.

Regarding privacy – NERIS will employ group security measures that limits access of personally identifiable information (PII) to only the data owners. A user cannot access another fire department’s data containing PII. Aggregated data, data services as APIs, and data export/download services from NERIS will not contain PII.

We will also follow industry best practices, such as NIST and FIPS standards, for data integrity and security. International compliance like GDPR will be addressed if relevant.

Will the data collected in NERIS be used to support community risk reduction analysis at the local level?

Yes. The data in NERIS will be integrated to enable local community risk reduction efforts, aiding in data-driven decision-making for resource allocation and planning.

Have a question or need more information?

Please email the NERIS Information Desk.