The Homeland Security Department continues to examine technology being developed by cities nationwide to help first responders in times of crisis as part of the department's Regional Technology Integration Initiative. The department has chosen Anaheim, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Cincinnati as the first three cities to share in the initiative's $10 million funding. The initiative's purpose is to help these cities, as well as an unnamed fourth city, investigate private-sector technology that can quickly make an impact on efforts to combat terrorism and neutralize biological or chemical attacks.
Anaheim, home to Disneyland and Angel Stadium, joined the initiative in June. A month later, the city and EDS together launched the Enterprise Virtual Operations Center, or EVOC. EVOC is a portal that provides first responders and city officials with information from geographic-information-systems maps, global-positioning-system tracking applications, and live video from traffic cameras all in one place. Anaheim's next step is to create a PDA interface to EVOC.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is working on behalf of Homeland Security to assess the applicability of Anaheim's technology to other cities and in October will file its report to the department. "I like to think [Homeland Security] wanted a quick success story, a model of how homeland security on a regional level should work," says Tom Wood, Anaheim's assistant city manager.
Anaheim has since early 2003 outsourced most of its IT operations to EDS. About a year after EDS won the three-year contract, Anaheim also received a $10 million grant as part of the Urban Area Security Initiative, a program through which Homeland Security last year alone made about $4 billion available to 30 urban areas in the United States to help them protect critical infrastructure, ports, and mass transit against terrorist attacks. Anaheim and EDS used the money to help develop EVOC.
"One of the most frustrating things about government is the siloing of information," Wood says. "You can muddle along this way until there's an emergency. We wanted to enable emergency managers to see the whole situation through EVOC."
In August, Homeland Security chose shipping and distribution hub Memphis as the third site for its Regional Technology Integration Initiative. Memphis, which in 2003 received $6.1 million through the Urban Area Security Initiative, features a security technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory known as SensorNet. Oak Ridge is the Department of Energy's largest science and energy laboratory. SensorNet is a sensor integration architecture for a national warning alert network designed to expedite detection of biological, chemical, or radiological releases and relay critical data to first responders within minutes.
Homeland Security kicked off its Regional Technology Integration Initiative in June by choosing Cincinnati, which was already home to the National Homeland Security Research Center. The center was created in late 2002 to coordinate different research efforts, including the development of ways to clean contaminated buildings, protect drinking water supplies, and improve risk-assessment techniques.
Cincinnati is planning to invest $1 million to renovate a building in its Knob Hill neighborhood that will serve as a command center in the event of terrorist attack. The emergency operations center could also be tied in with IT enhancements already under way, such as the rollout of ruggedized laptop PCs to firefighters and other responders for the purpose of disseminating emergency information uniformly and in real time over an 800-MHz communications backbone. Information sent to these mobile data systems will be encrypted so data can't be intercepted and altered.