Through our experience with facilities and operations teams around the nation, we have learned that many struggle to secure budget approval for technology. Lack of technology within the built space can lead to an escalation of expenses related to catastrophes. In fact, survey data from late 2017 indicates that, on average, a facilities team will face a catastrophe costing $500,000 every two years.
Funds for important technology initiatives— from communications software to emergency preparedness mobile apps to incident management tools—are available in the form of grants. Money from the federal government is available for a wide variety of emergency preparedness initiatives, including the purchase of technology – specifically in the form of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) non-disaster grants.
Moreover, there is money available at the state and local government level, as well as through private companies and non-profit foundations.
Read on to learn about funding opportunities outside of your organization’s budget.
Overview of DHS/FEMA Preparedness Grants
FEMA and the DHS provide grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. While there are several more FEMA/DHS Preparedness Grant programs, the following selection of programs provides funding for preparedness technology specifically:
- Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Program
- State Homeland Security Program (SHSP)
- Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)
- Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
How These Grants are Distributed
Through these programs and others, a little over $1.6 billion was distributed in 2017. Most of these funds are distributed based on formulas. Once your state applies for and receives the grant funds, they also manage the process of distributing these funds. That means your organization must apply for FEMA grants through your state.
As a result, the procedures for applying will vary from state to state. For example, the state of Washington lays out its own specific eligibility and allocation rules for the EMPG program, as does Arizona.
Your best bet is to contact your state’s emergency management agency for more information about the application process in your state.
What Technology Can DHS/FEMA Preparedness Grant Funds be Used For?
FEMA provides a long list of approved equipment that various grant funds can be used for. However, since the facility managers we serve are particularly concerned with technology, we’ll highlight a few types of technology straight from the approved list.
- Name: Systems and Tools, ICS
Description: Incident Command System (ICS) software including command/plans and decision-support tools. Also includes NIMS-compliant field incident management materials such as T-Cards and holders, specialized forms, etc.
- Name: Software, Equipment Tracking and Inventory
Description: Application software for tracking of tangible equipment, including location and person(s)/organization(s) responsible.
- Name: Systems, Public Notification and Warning
Description: Systems used to alert the public of protective actions or to provide warning to the public in the event of an incident, such as sirens, the Emergency Alert System (EAS), the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
State Funding Opportunities
As you might expect, the opportunities for obtaining grants from the state government will vary quite a bit throughout the country. However, every state government and many local governments have economic development agencies that may provide funding opportunities that can be used for technology.
Where to Find State Grants
If you are part of a government entity, you should start with FEMA grants. To quickly zero in on where to find more information on the FEMA programs outlined above, simply search for the name of the grant program – for example, “Emergency Management Grant Program” – and then add the name of your state.
If you’re not part of a government entity, the U.S. Economic Development Administration is a great place to start. They provide this directory with contact info, office locations, and more for economic development offices in every state.
Grant Funds for Technology in Healthcare
If you’re in healthcare and you’re looking for grants for facility management technology, you could be in luck. That’s because nonprofits are eligible for far more grants than most organizations. And more than half of the hospitals in the United States are non-profit. Plus, you will also be eligible for grants from private companies or foundations.
Where to Find Healthcare Technology Grants
The Grants.gov search tool is a great place to start for healthcare facility managers. Just make sure that you apply the filter under eligibility for nonprofits. And even if you don’t find anything, check back regularly for new grants.
Private grants for healthcare also present a potential source of funds. Just keep in mind that eligibility and allowed uses of funds will vary greatly here. You may be able to find a list of private grant opportunities like this one for hospitals in California.
If you can’t find a list of private opportunities in your state, another good place to start is this list of technology grant opportunities.
Funding Opportunities for School-specific Grants
Like hospitals, the vast majority of schools are classified as non-profit. So, many of the grant opportunities you find for healthcare organizations are also available to schools. Moreover, in light of the spike in school shootings throughout the United States, federal lawmakers are pushing school safety legislation.
We addressed the state of school safety legislation in this post.
In addition to an increasing amount of federal funds, facility managers should also be on the lookout for state grants to help with school safety. In another recent post, we identified five states in which legislation may soon provide funding opportunities for technology aimed at improving school safety.
Even if your state is not on the list, keep in mind that 39 states have or are currently enacting legislation directed at school safety. Some of this legislation will undoubtedly include more funding for technology initiatives that improve school safety.
Improving Emergency Preparedness with Technology
At the heart of emergency preparedness is communication. People need to know where they need to be when they need to be there. Yet too often competing priorities, limited budgets, and red tape muck up well-intentioned efforts to make your facility safer in the event of a disaster.
It won’t be easy, but by exploring all your funding opportunities, you could find the money your facility needs without having to dip into the existing budget. But before you start applying for grants, take the time to explore technology like ARC’s Emergency and Life Safety dashboard.
By facilitating communication between facility managers, building occupants, and first responders, these dashboards make any facility’s emergency response far more effective.