Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2016 Vol. 63 No. 2

The STEAR System Will Soon Be Three Years Old

March 15, 2016 will mark the end of the third year that the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) system has been available to Texas citizens and local governments. During these three years, the STEAR system has evolved and now offers more registration options for individuals and more capabilities for local planners to obtain information that will assist them in better understanding the needs of individuals within their communities.

STEAR

The STEAR program was developed by the state of Texas to assist coastal local governments with obtaining information on the needs of its citizens during a hurricane evacuation. The program provides emergency managers detailed information on citizens who may require additional assistance during a disaster or emergency, such as individuals with disabilities, special medical needs or unique transportation challenges. The information can be used for preparedness and response activities and is free to local governments and individuals. Below are some of the highlights of the improvements made.

During 2013, the first year of the STEAR program, the Texas Information Referral Network (TIRN) 2-1-1 call center specialists entered 17,526 registrations into the data base. Also during that year, 112 jurisdictions, representing 62 cities, 49 counties and one regional organization, appointed local data custodians.

In 2014, STEAR web services were expanded to permit individuals to self-register online. As a result, many home health services have incorporated online STEAR registration of clients into their business practice. Local data custodians were able to review the registrations in their localities and update their STEAR records through the use of new secure web-based tools. They continued to have the option to download individual registration lists in spreadsheet form and gained the option to download nursing homes and assisted living facility registrations. Local data custodians obtained the capability to view dynamically updated statistics and graphs representing information about their jurisdiction, including registration rates and recent activity. Building on the questions developed originally for coastal evacuation zones, refined STEAR questions now capture information useful for statewide purposes.

STEAR Registranst by County

In 2015, the option to register individuals for local data custodians using the STEAR online form was completed. TDEM’s district coordinators now have access to STEAR data as well. Each district coordinator can view information about data custodian activity and STEAR registrations in their area, and new fields were added to capture e-mail addresses, mailing addresses as well as information about safe rooms and storm cellars.

From January 1, 2015 through December 8, 2015, 31,637 new registrations had been made; 5,539 of these were self-registrations by citizens, 123 were registered by local data custodians and the remainder were registered with 2-1-1 call specialist assistance. An additional 14,638 registrations were carried over as active registrations from 2014 at the decision of local data custodians. Currently 135 jurisdictions have appointed local data custodians, representing 69 cities, 62 counties and four regional organizations in Texas.

During the flood events of May and June, 2015, STEAR data were geocoded and delivered to search and rescue teams working in Wichita Falls, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and other impacted areas. As recently as October 2015, the district coordinator responsible for Navarro County provided STEAR data for that county, which had experienced heavy rainfall and extensive floods. STEAR data is now used in many jurisdictions far from hurricane impact areas, because the need to know where vulnerable residents are located is necessary during flood, wildfire, severe weather and other emergency events.

STEAR data

STEAR data not only provides local planners with location information but also provides valuable planning tools for many types of events. The information shown in the table is an overview of the current statistics for the state.

Local data custodians can obtain access to this information as well as individual information on their registered citizens. Having this type of information becomes instrumental when determining the needs of individuals within their community who have registered for assistance. If your city or county does not have a means to obtain this type of information, consider participating in this program.

To find out more information on this program, go to State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry. To assign a data custodian, fill out and submit the Data Custodian Appointment Form found at the website above.

Please feel free to contact the TDEM point of contact for this program at Denita Powell or 512-424-7948.

STEAR Data Custodians

  • Confirm registrants are located within a jurisdiction
  • Confirm registrant’s information is current and accurate
  • Review new registrations with a frequency that reflects the population of the jurisdiction
  • Identify registrants who are deceased or no longer in the jurisdiction
  • Confer with neighboring jurisdictions’ data custodians to resolve problems
  • Share geocoded information
  • Take steps to encourage registration
  • Report problems with the system to University of Texas Center for Space Research
  • TDEM provides training for data custodians
  • Jurisdictions can register more than one data custodian
  • Can now register individuals within their community
  • Data custodian appointment form

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