The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) Offers First Look At Hurricane Evacuee-Tracking System

State of Louisiana Department of Social Services Office of the Secretary

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Social Services, as lead state agency for Emergency Support Function 6: Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing and Human Services, today offered the news media a first look at the department’s newly purchased evacuee-tracking software. During a press conference held at the Iberville Building in downtown Baton Rouge, DSS Secretary Ann Williamson briefed the news media on the state’s readiness to register, track and shelter evacuees during the 2008 hurricane season, which starts June 1. Williamson said the state’s newly purchased Web-based software system, EWA Phoenix Crisis Management Tools, will allow DSS to quickly and efficiently register evacuees who need state assisted transportation, as well as track their whereabouts throughout a disaster. “The Phoenix system is designed to register and track evacuees during all phases of the state’s disaster operations, from evacuation to transportation and sheltering,” Williamson said. Although DSS leased and piloted the system last hurricane season, Williamson said that a recent state bidding process allowed the department to purchase the system outright for $225,000 with a $31,650 annual maintenance rider after the first year. In addition to registering state-assisted evacuees before they depart via bus, train or plane, Phoenix will keep track of evacuees at Critical Transportation Needs Shelters (CTNS), Medical Special Needs Shelters (MSNS) and the registered Sex Offender Shelter (SOS). The system allows the rapid registration of large numbers of people by scanning stateentification cards and state driver’s licenses for personal data such as name, address, date of birth, gender and phone numbers. The system then generates anentification badge and wristband with barcode for each evacuee and his or her pets, as well. Beside providing DSS with the ability to track evacuees over the course of an event – from preregistration, to bus, to transportation, to shelter and temporary housing – the crisis management software also is designed to:

  • Provide a bus manifest for arrivals and departures.
  • Provide up-to-date information regarding DSS shelter populations.
  • Upload the state’s sex-offender registry.
  • Provide a pop-up an alert when a sex offender registers at a shelter.
  • Provide the ability to track pets.
  • Aid in reuniting separated families.

The system was tested at a joint state and local emergency exercise held in Orleans and Jefferson parishes, during which 100 individuals were registered via laptop computers in less than four minutes. Williamson noted that a backup system always is important, and DSS has a traditional manual-type registration if needed. Triplicate forms have been distributed to parishes for use whether or not the state is called to assist in the evacuation process. These forms can be used for both registration and bus manifests, which list all passengers on board. For more information, contact: Janice Lovett, Public Information Officer 3 Phone: (225) 342-4772 Email: jlovett@dss.state.la.us Website: www.dss.state.la.us