Government Technology

Emergency Management Bulletin: New York City Emergency Responders Go Wireless, Tornado Knowledge Aids Early Warning

July 24, 2009 By News Staff

New York City Emergency Responders Go Wireless

New York City first responders have high-speed wireless connectivity anywhere across more than 300 square miles, thanks to the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN) deployed in May. The price tag was $500 million, paid to Northrop Grumman for building the network, and maintaining and operating it over the next five years. The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) initiated the project with the vendor in 2006.

NYCWiN allows responders to transmit large files, including fingerprints, mug shots, city maps, automatic vehicle location and full-motion streaming video. As a fully interoperable, IP-based network, NYCWiN links the various responder disciplines to that information. This means the fire department and the Office of Emergency Management could utilize video being shot by the police department, according to Nicholas Sbordone, director of external affairs for the DoITT. Officials commanding the responders can do so from remote sites using the real-time data and video feeds. -- Andy Opsahl, Staff Writer


Tornado Knowledge Aids Early Warning

To learn how to better forecast tornadoes and provide more accurate and earlier warnings, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration contributed more than $10 million toward the creation of VORTEX2 -- a.k.a. the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2. Nearly 100 scientists and students from 16 research institutes and universities tracked tornadoes in Oklahoma and surrounding states from May 10 to June 13.

According to the VORTEX2 Web site, it was the "largest and most ambitious effort ever made to understand tornadoes."

Researchers tried to locate supercells -- thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds and tornadoes -- and track them with a bevy of instruments to develop a 3-D view of how they form and evolve, according to CNN. The research will continue May 1, 2010, to June 15, 2010.


Creating an Emergency Preparedness Culture

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina in disaster responsiveness, but the nation has a long way to go to improve preparedness, said retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, former commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, at the May 2009 Homeland Security S&T Stakeholders Conference in Washington, D.C.

Honoré said the public should be educated about the importance of completing a risk assessment before constructing homes and buildings. This includes how to build and the best locations to build at.

"I believe for every dollar you spend on preparedness, you save $9 in response," he said.


Stimulus Funds Boost Airport Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $50 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund explosive detection systems and advanced X-ray units. The new equipment will streamline baggage screening and enhance security capabilities at airports nationwide, according to a DHS statement. This was the first award from the $1 billion the Transportation Security Agency received from the stimulus bill.

The DHS will purchase 123 explosive detection systems from Reveal Imaging Technologies for approximately $47 million and 44 advanced technology X-ray units from Rapiscan Systems for approximately $3 million.

The new X-ray units can be reprogrammed, allowing the machines to adapt to evolving threats. Approximately 770 X-ray units are currently deployed at U.S. airports.


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