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DHS looking for vendors to perform ‘remote sensing’ airborne photography

DHS is planning to spend up to $50 million to hire as many as four contractors to provide “aerial remote sensing” services, that will include taking photos from airborne sensors of homeland security missions and emergency incidents, processing those images and disseminating them throughout the department.

The chosen vendors will be asked to collect aerial imagery using digital cameras in what are known as “vertical” or “oblique” renditions to support emergency and non-emergency incidents nationwide.

DHS believes these airborne images are essential for homeland defense missions, such as planning for National Special Security Events (Super Bowls or a national political conventions come to mind); enhancing border, port and airport security; as well as performing critical infrastructure inventories and assessments.

“Particularly, post-incident imagery and lidar [short for Light Detection And Ranging] processed for use in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a critical component of rapid damage assessment, debris estimation, logistics, and other essential services that are vital to the management of emergency incidents by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional offices, joint field offices and by state and local government,” explained a statement of work released by DHS last March.

DHS expects a quick turnaround from the vendor, whether it can give the contractor advanced notice of a specific incident or not.

“The firm shall have demonstrated procedures and tools to ensure imagery can be acquired, processed and delivered in 48 hours or less and the ability to support simultaneous missions in multiple geographic locations,” explains a solicitation issued on Feb. 7 by the DHS office of procurement operations.

The chosen firms will have demonstrated their ability to distribute “processed orthophotography” via high performance data transfer techniques that use Web services or secure Cloud services, which comply with the Open Geospatial Consortium, says the DHS solicitation.

The solicitation lists several services that will be required from the selected vendors, including readiness reporting (namely identifying the location, configuration and status of both the aircraft and the sensors being used), deployment exercises, vertical and oblique aerial image acquisition, LiDAR, photogrammetric data processing and electronic dissemination of imagery data. Companies that receive one of the indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) awards will be required to participate in at least one exercise per year to demonstrate that they have the ability to meet “rapid turnaround” requirements, says the solicitation.

The competition is open to vendors of all sizes, but any large business that receives an award will be expected to meet subcontracting goals that allocate at least 45 percent of the “intended subcontract amount” to small businesses, including at least 5 percent to woman-owned businesses, 3 percent to HUBZone businesses and 3 percent to service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.

Interested vendors have until Feb. 21 to submit their proposals to DHS. Further information is available from Kenneth Arena, a contract specialist, at DHSRemoteSensing@hq.dhs.gov.