February 17, 2011 By Jim McKay
Joe Bruno can talk about emergency management and technology until the next meal. But don’t let the talk fool you, Bruno is a “doer.”
Since being named commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM), he has built up substantially the city’s ability to respond to and manage emergencies.
Soon after being appointed, Bruno launched the Citywide Incident Management System, a solution that gives city agencies a game plan to follow during emergencies and ensures interoperability. The system yields a unified command in a single location. “We get a lot more interaction between the command structure so that, in our view, we get much more interactive capability and much less of ‘this is my job, this is your job,’” Bruno said.
Bruno was the backbone of several programs that directly affect citizens stricken by disaster. The Family Assistance Center arose after Hurricane Katrina and provided aid to those who migrated to New York City after the devastation. Bruno also oversaw a revision of the city’s Coastal Storm Plan to ensure that the city is prepared for the worst-case scenario. As a result, New York is prepared to shelter more than 600,000 residents in the case of a catastrophe.
Notify NYC is another program driven by Bruno’s leadership. The emergency notification system alerts New York City residents via text messages, e-mail and pre-recorded phone messages. Another is Ready New York, an emergency preparedness campaign in the form of 11 guides in 23 languages that reaches more than 6.5 million residents.
Bruno also is proud of the city’s relationships with private-sector entities, many of which share the Emergency Operations Center with Bruno and his staff. “We have a thing called CorpNet, which is a paging system that we put out from OEM to the private sector,” he said. “We provide them day-to-day situational awareness of what’s happening in New York City. Everything I get, they get.”
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.