Lincoln Laboratory developed the system and is helping the country integrate it with its emergency agencies.

Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, announced that the country will adopt the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS) as its official crisis management system. Zaev made the announcement on July 3 during a NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) conference held in Skopje, North Macedonia. Also at the conference, Antonio Missiroli, the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, highlighted Lincoln Laboratory's role and the Department of Homeland Security's support in developing NICS and bringing its capabilities to Southeast Europe.

The software system will enable all emergency agencies in the country to be digitally unified, allowing for simplified coordination of disaster response services. The system is accessed via the internet and allows commanders and responders to add information during a disaster — for example, wildfire boundaries, evacuation zones, or GPS locations of personnel — onto a shared incident map. Users can also upload photos and videos from the scene, send messages, and check-in with other responding agencies in real time.

Photo of two men talking into microphones at a press conference
At left, Agron Buxhaku, Director of the Crisis Management Center in North Macedonia, and Gregory Hogan, NICS NATO National Program Director, discuss North Macedonia's adoption of NICS at a press conference in Skopje, North Macedonia, on July 3.

NICS was developed by Lincoln Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate nearly a decade ago to assist emergency agencies in California with wildfire response. It has since been adopted by countries around the world. In 2017, NATO SPS asked Lincoln Laboratory to work with officials in North Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina to adapt the system to their needs. North Macedonia is the first of these countries to announce that they will formally adopt NICS.

"Macedonia has been very proactive in bringing in the system and understanding what it can do, but also modifying and adapting the system specifically to work for Macedonian problems and for their agencies," said Gregory Hogan, a Lincoln Laboratory associate group leader who is the NICS NATO National Program Director, during a press conference following the announcement. 

Fourteen people standing in a line for a group photo
NATO SPS leaders, NICS NATO co-directors from participating Southeastern European countries, and Laboratory staff join NATO ASG for Emerging Security Challenges Antonio Missiroli and North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (6th and 7th from left).

North Macedonia tested the system with support from Lincoln Laboratory technical staff during two NATO SPS field exercises in 2017 and in 2018. The full implementation of NICS is expected to be completed by December 2020.

"The NICS NATO project team from North Macedonia, led by co-director Urim Vejseli, has been working diligently over the past year to train more than 500 NICS users across many organizations," said Laboratory staff member Stephanie Foster, who leads the NICS NATO program, "an impressive effort that has greatly contributed to their success in gaining national adoption of the NICS system."