Expanding public health capacity with a DIY tool for state and local officials

By Ian Patterson & Dan Lips


As discussed in a previous article, there are many surplus federal properties in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 that we believe could be quickly utilized for field hospitals, homeless housing, and other needs. Lincoln has issued a grant proposal to develop software that helps state and local officials find and request use of these properties. Due to the time-sensitivity of some needs we’re now providing DIY tools for state and local officials to use in the meantime.

How to Use These Tools

Imagine you’re in the mayor’s office in a region that is expecting, or already has, significant facility needs due to COVID-19. With homeless housing in mind, for example, you could use our Google Map of surplus federal properties to look at just properties over 15,000 square feet in your area. Clicking on a property reveals details like type (hospital, office, warehouse, family housing, etc), construction year, address, current use (if any), utilization, and more. More data is available in the spreadsheets below than can fit in Google Maps, so check there as well.

How to Request Use of a Property

If a property is a potential match for the need, you can contact the state governor’s office and reference the Federal Real Property Unique ID. The state can request use of this property from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via the WebEOC emergency request system, a source in FEMA told Lincoln. FEMA will then work with other federal agencies, including the General Services Administration, to initiate a transfer process.


Google Map Showing Surplus Federal Properties

This map has three layers for surplus properties of different size:

What Properties Are Included?

The tool is based on publicly available data for federal properties as of FY2018. Our team made an effort to filter out properties that are unlikely to be useful or readily available (including only “underutilized” and “unutilized” properties). 

  • Managing agencies excluded:
    • Dept of Homeland Security
    • Dept of Justice 
    • Battlefield Commission 
    • Smithsonian 
  • Real Property Use excluded:
    • Railroad 
    • Monument
    • Harbors
    • Ports
    • Comfort station / restroom 
    • Flood control 
    • Roads and bridges 
    • Navigation and traffic aids
    • Prisons and detention centers
    • Memorials

We further limited results to United States properties of 2500 square ft or more. Because of how we did our initial prototype in New York City, the downloadable spreadsheets exclude NY state properties. Instead, the map includes several layers for properties in the NYC area broken out by potential interest.

Questions or Feedback

Contact Dan Lips or Ian Patterson with your feedback and questions.

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Dan Lips
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Zach Graves
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Marshall Kosloff
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