HANCOCK COUNTY — At the invitation of Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Craig Harvey, COO and executive vice president of NVision Solutions Inc., recently testified before a hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.
The hearing, “Unlocking the SAFETY Act’s Potential to Promote Technology and Combat Terrorism,” was held to examine the effectiveness of the SAFETY Act.
Congress passed the SAFETY (Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies) Act as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, due to concern of private companies that were developing and deploying anti-terrorism products and services. The concern was that their technologies could leave them and their customers exposed to enormous civil liabilities.
Stennis Space Center-based NVision pursued the SAFETY Act designation for REACT (Real-Time Emergency Action Coordination Tool). REACT is a web-based, all-hazards, emergency management, common operating picture (COP) linked to smartphones for tracking and reporting from the field to an Emergency Operations Center or Unified Command. REACT was jointly developed over the past six years with NASA Stennis Space Center and using Hancock County Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and St. Tammany Parish, La., Emergency Management Agency as real-life test beds.
During his testimony before the committee, Harvey commented on NVision’s experience with the complexity of the Safety Act Application. “It is onerous and time consuming as it should be given the gravity of what is at stake. There was one particular problem that our company encountered in the application process. DHS informed us we had 30 days to cover a $1-million insurance liability before we were officially protected by the act’s indemnification clause. This requirement was the primary obstacle of the process that presented us with difficulty. We found that insurers were unfamiliar with the SAFETY Act and unwilling to cover ‘acts of terrorism.’ Despite the fixed liability we were unable find affordable insurance. Ultimately, armed with help and encouragement from DHS, we finally located a broker willing to provide affordable insurance and finalized our SAFETY Act designation.”
During the question-and-answer period Harvey was asked by Ranking Member Yvette D. Clarke what impact the proximity to NASA Stennis Space Center may have had on the product or the process. Harvey replied that NVision was formed inside the business incubator at NASA Stennis Space Center and access to NASA facilities and relationships built with NASA scientists and engineers played a critical role in the development of REACT and NVision.
Harvey said that NVision has made significant investment in learning the ins and outs of the process. “We would like to put our experience to work to help other companies so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak,” said Harvey.