CoreSHIELD logo: Three blue shields with a gold haloEnabling the secure exchange of information for the nation's critical infrastructures, CoreSHIELD provides the information technology architecture underlying a suite of web-based portals and applications. Together these portals and applications provide a gateway for communication, coordination, collaboration, education, and training among stakeholders charged with protecting and defending the nation's critical infrastructures.

Innovative collaboration portals to enable the secure exchange of information

The Problem

The food and agriculture infrastructure is vast and spread with interdependencies across multiple federal, state, and local government agencies, academia, and industry. A centralized platform to unite those was required to coordinate across different organizations, sectors, and physical locations.

The Beginning

In 2005, FoodSHIELD was initiated with a USDA CREES grant. Its initial and continuing mission is to facilitate collaboration among the federal regulatory agencies, laboratories, state and local government entities, military branches, and academics involved in protecting and defending the global food supply.


With over 10,000 active users, CoreSHIELD is now the preferred gateway for communication, collaboration, education, and training amongst the nation’s critical infrastructure stakeholders. The system continues to evolve with a new user interface and major update released in 2014 and new features, updates, and customizations added regularly.

The Portals

Today, CoreSHIELD serves as the underlying framework for FoodSHIELD and several additional portals and applications within the FPDI portfolio of Information Sharing Environments (ISEs). 

The Features

Fundamental to CoreSHIELD is the Common Organizational Registry Environment (CORE), which provides role-based contact information and capabilities such as document management, workgroups, online meetings, e-learning, calendaring, secure-send, user authentication, and single sign-on, all of which can be shared and leveraged by the portals and applications residing on CoreSHIELD.

Optional Services  

Portals residing on the CORE have the ability to be customized to meet use functionality and visual requirements including navigation via basic or custom public-facing websites. Public-facing websites provide a customizable web presence for agencies or organizations. The basic public-facing website, if contracted, includes purchase of site (DNS) name, creation, and hosting. Up to three page designs will be available from which sponsor may select. Designs will include use of sponsor-provided color schemes and logo.

Other Portals

Other Portals

CoreSHIELD provides the web-based platform for the following secure portal systems. These portals house databases of current information regarding regulatory agencies, laboratories, and role-based contacts. CoreSHIELD was designed for scalability, thus, enabling it to expand and integrate additional systems when and as needed. Due to the success of CoreSHIELD and its portals, other communities have recognized its utility in connecting individuals through a web-based Information Sharing Environment.

Food Emergency Response Network

A secure online system, the FERN Portal extends outreach and operational capabilities of the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), a network of the nation's local, state, and federal food-testing laboratories. Containing member laboratory capability and contact information, as well as extensive collaboration functionality, the Portal is used for FERN-related activations, proficiency testing, and online meetings helping FERN better respond to emergencies involving biological, chemical, or radiological contamination of food. 

Homeland Security University Programs

As the homeland security community’s primary point of contact with the nation’s colleges and universities, the DHS Office of University Programs enables partners to address critical homeland security needs through access to DHS Centers of Excellence research results and education programs. The HSUP portal, developed and maintained by the Food Protection and Defense Institute, enhances the accessibility of these programs by providing a web-based information sharing system that enables close collaboration with the diverse COE community and facilitates information sharing among the COE’s numerous research partners.

Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks

The ICLN Portal was built to support the Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN), a coordinated and operational system of laboratory networks that provide timely, high quality, and interpretable results for early detection and effective consequence management of acts of terrorism and other events requiring an integrated laboratory response. Use of this portal extends the outreach and operational capabilities of the ICLN and is essential to enabling the joint response capability of ICLN member networks.

Animal Feed Network

The PETNet and LivestockNet portals were developed as collaborative effort between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state government partners, and the Food Protection and Defense Institute. The PETNet and LivestockNet portals facilitate sharing of information between Federal and State agencies to provide an early alert for pet food and animal feed related incidents, such as illness associated with the consumption of a product or product defects.  The information can be used by State and Federal regulators to determine how best to use investigative and laboratory resources to address adverse events associated with adulterated pet food or animal feed.   

Food Protection Taskforce

The state-level Food Protection Taskforces consist of government, industry, academia, and consumer groups that create an effective state-wide infrastructure for outreach, response, and information sharing. The Taskforces, uniquely positioned within states as a convener of stakeholders in food safety, can and should be an effective solution within the greater national food protection framework. This cooperation has resulted in greater awareness of potential vulnerabilities, the creation of more effective prevention programs, new surveillance systems, and the ability to respond more quickly to outbreaks of foodborne illness. 

Product Tiers

Product Tiers

FPDI established four scaled Product Tiers for CoreSHIELD access allowing stakeholders options to align their work with the right level of functionality and service.

Bronze Tier: Secure Custom Work Group

(example includes: Proficiency Testing)

The secure custom work group is an online service which provides a dedicated space for users in need of additional customization and support. Secure custom work groups are operated on the FoodSHIELD portal without a separate publicly accessible web site. Base tools and servicesplus:

  • Customized color scheme and logo
  • Access for up to 50 members and/or 500 guests
  • Availability for contracted customization and development
  • Support for up to 500 hours of meeting time
  • Service for up to 500k text messages per year 
Silver Tier: Secure Custom Collaboration Site

(examples include: Retail Food Risk Factor Study Tool)

The secure custom collaboration site combines all the features of the bronze tier with the addition of a customized website for public presence and visibility. It also includes increased meeting time and text message capacity. Base tools and servicesplus:

  • Unique web address/URL, login and landing page
  • Customized color scheme, logo and design
  • Implementation, training, and project management (onsite meetings available)
  • Availability for contracted customization and development
  • Support for up to 500 members and/or 5,000 guests
  • Support and service for up to 2,000 hours of meeting time
  • Service for up to 1 million text messages per year
  • Public site customization consultation
  • Unique pilot site access
  • Strategic implementation plan 
Gold Tier: Full Collaboration Portal

(examples include: ICLN, NAHLN, FERN)

The full collaboration portal provides all features and functions of the CoreSHIELD platform and customized public website with complete customization options for specific missions or business needs. This level includes ongoing annual project management, training and coordination services, and the ability to contract with FPDI for additional custom development modifications. Base tools and servicesplus:

  • Complete stand-alone Collaboration Portal
  • Unique web address/URL
  • Customized login, landing page, public presence, color scheme and logo
  • Customized Implementation, training, and project management
  • Dedicated application server(s) and customizable application architecture available
  • Portal wide administrative features and functions for:
    • Onboarding, Account Management, App Store, Communications, and Reporting
    • Additional custom modules such as LabDirectory
    • Support and Services for up to 6,000 hours of meeting time
    • 3 million text messages per year
    • System or Mission Specific Security Plan available
Platinum Tier: Enterprise Level Collaboration Portal

(example: FoodSHIELD)

An enterprise level collaboration portal such as FoodSHIELD offers unlimited access to all CoreSHIELD features and functions and operates in a dedicated virtual private cloud environment with dedicated hardware and infrastructure completely separate from the other CoreSHIELD portals. The Enterprise Level Collaboration Portal provides complete customization and ownership. Gold Level functionality plus:

  • Dedicated Program Manager
  • Administrative Coordinator, access management and QA
  • Dedicated virtual infrastructure, WAF and database
  • Annual stakeholder meeting.
  • Quarterly stakeholder advisory committee coordination
  • Complete product direction control
  • Custom development services for up to 1 FTE
  • Unlimited meeting time for up to 200 members
  • SMS Short code and up to 4.5 million text messages

Base Tools and Services

Base Tools and Services

FPDI works with partners to implement the best collaboration tools and service packages to fit their needs. Common to all tiers are base tools and services provided to enhance the collaboration and productivity of users on the CoreSHIELD platform.

Base Tools:
  • Custom work groups
  • Context specific applications for:
  • Collaboration: Activity Feeds, Webinars, Alerts, Discussion Boards, Blogs
  • Coordination: Projects and Tasks, Calendars, Event Management, Distribution Lists, Polls
  • Asset management: Documents, Links, Video Galleries, Photos, Data Collection, Reports
  • Education: Training module, Knowledge base
Base Services:
  • Support
  • Helpdesk, Knowledgebase, Online Training
  • Single-sign-on -- centrally managed CoreSHIELD authentication
  • Service based infrastructure
  • Security monitoring
  • Intrusion detection and prevention
  • Continuous licensing, software and contract updates
  • Full service staff of experienced IT specialists
  • Access to FoodSHIELD as a shared and managed collaboration resource

Operations and Maintenance

Operations and Maintenance

Once deployed or activated, each collaboration portal is assessed an annual Operations and Maintenance (O&M) fee. Through strategic cost sharing, O&M costs are greatly reduced as each collaboration portal shares in support of the CoreSHIELD platform.

O&M fees include:

  • Servers hosted in a FEDRAMP compliant US Government only data center with superior failover processes, uploaded file content reliability, DDOS attack prevention and monitoring
  • Domain name registration annual renewal
  • FedRAMP compliant webinar hosting and licensing which allows for online meetings hosted through the individual portals
  • Security service and licenses with multiple layers of proactive and reactive security measures to provide critical reliability and resiliency. This includes renewal licensing of software for firewalls and penetration tests.
  • Network management with a shared network administrator tasked to proactively address patch management issues within the servers
  • Help Desk Services to respond users for password resets and issues not related to software functionality. Responses are through email, phone, and live chat. Help Desk services are available from 7:00am to 7:00pm CST.
  • Outreach and support services provided by FPDI to facilitate cross-portals collaboration and knowledge management, shared services, development, and brand marketing.
  • FPDI presence at conferences and meetings determined beneficial by advisory committee members ensuring portals are consistently represented and promoted

CoreSHIELD features and functionality are constantly being expanded and re-integrated into and across all portals. As new features are developed, they will be phased into the CoreSHIELD architecture and made available for use by all portal owners and stakeholders. 


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Contact us at [email protected] for more information