Page 24 - FCW, November/December 2020
P. 24

Executive Viewpoint
A conversation with
CIO, Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA’s CIO discusses how the agency is embracing edge computing and the technology’s impact on the future of IT
How is FEMA using edge computing for daily operations and disaster response, including COVID-19?
For FEMA’s daily operations, edge computing is used at our headquarters, in our 10 regions throughout the country and in our mobile emergency response teams. Our edge requirements must
be able to expand to meet FEMA’s emergency needs across the nation (for our state, local, tribal and territorial partners).
The COVID-19 pandemic caused FEMA, like many federal agencies, to undertake an unprecedented increase
in telework. Subsequently, a major expansion evolved through our use of context-rich, multimedia collaboration tools on our mobile-device platforms. For the near future and beyond, this progression represents a major change in how we execute work. It has enormous implications for how we develop processes to support our workforce as we continue to serve the needs of our citizens and disaster survivors.
What benefits are you seeing, and have any of them been unexpected?
With context-rich, multimedia collaboration tools on our mobile platforms, we have been able to drive
an integrated approach to remote work. The unexpected surprise is the speed at which change is being embraced through technology enablement and how quickly workflows are being developed to achieve mission accomplishments.
This was all accomplished while under
the immense pressure of managing the COVID-19 responses, coupled with responding to the recent wildfire and hurricane incidents.
How do you expect edge computing — and FEMA’s use
of it — to evolve?
It is hard to predict the future, but
we can foresee the inclusion of edge computing capability in our out-year modernization projects so that we can start leveraging machine language and artificial intelligence innovations for enhanced disaster preparations and response. Although the cloud and its capabilities remain very important, the notion of central processing is changing, and we must keep pace.
One of the major implications of edge computing is its relationship with the broader concept of zero trust networking and trusted computing. Zero trust models operate under the assumption that the connected network is already compromised, so every single endpoint must effectively become a cybersecure device.
In other words, even virtual private cloud instances should also be considered
“edge devices.” In the coming years, there will, in effect, be no center from an advanced cybersecurity perspective. Everything will be on the edge because the immutability of any core network should always be viewed with concern and skepticism.
This interview continues at

   22   23   24   25   26