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Back to Archives | Back to May 2007 Contents 

Advances & Applications

Command Center Keeps Things under Control in Crisis

A recent spell of icy weather could have effectively shut down Central Texas, but the coordinated efforts of dozens of agencies and thousands of businesses minimized the effects of the weather crisis. Officials at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) handled the crisis efficiently and effectively. The EOC serves as the command center for City of Austin and Travis County response and recovery operations. Coordination among all the school systems, the University of Texas, the employers, the city, the county, and the state was impressive. The EOC decided which roads should be closed and directed law enforcement to close them; helped school districts decide whether to open late or stay closed; and led sand trucks to icy roads.

From the field to the command center, mere minutes pass before the locations of trouble spots are known. Over time, the level of coordination at the EOC has improved substantially. The agencies have implemented more appropriate procedures and newer technologies, including ESi’s WebEOC. Resources are used more efficiently, resulting in fewer accidents and power outages as well as more streamlined coordination of business and school district closures. Information input into the system is sent directly to the appropriate recipient, who is then able to react quickly to that information. The EOC has worked many crises over the years, but not until this latest ice storm did it really get the chance to click.
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City of Philadelphia Chooses Keltron LS 7000

Keltron, a leading developer of life safety event management systems, is pleased to announce the deployment of its Keltron LS 7000 life safety event management system at the City of Philadelphia Public Safety Department. Replacing an older system with limited monitoring, the new system monitors life safety alarms in over 60 percent of the city’s municipal buildings.

Chosen for its ability to identify the exact location of an alarm and the nature of its environment, the network-based Keltron system receives alarm information using various transmission technologies and existing fire panels. The system displays a wide range of critical life safety information to dispatchers at the city’s central monitoring station, enabling them to respond to critical life safety events quickly and accurately. “The more detailed information our dispatchers have about the nature of an alarm, the more effectively they can determine the best response,” noted Frank Punzo, the city’s deputy commissioner of communications for the Department of Public Property, which manages the physical infrastructure that supports city government operations.

The Keltron system enabled the city to maintain its existing dialer infrastructure. Berkshire Systems Group provided the system and maintains it for the city, which plans to enhance the new system with full redundancy in the future.
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City of Los Angeles Mobile Command Vehicles Rely on MRC Microwave Technology

Microwave Radio Communications (MRC) announced that a microwave communications system has been installed by the City of Los Angeles (L.A.) for publicsafety interdepartmental communications. The system allows L.A. law enforcement and public-safety personnel to transmit video, voice, and data between mobile command vehicles and the city’s infrastructure through a fixed central site. Portable communication systems can be deployed as repeaters or in locations not readily accessible to vehicles. This communications technology enables public-safety personnel to establish necessary communications during a catastrophic event such as an earthquake or a terrorist attack. Other potential uses include security at major events including demonstrations, sporting events, concerts, and public gatherings where public safety is of critical concern.

MRC faced major challenges in customtailoring this system. The principal hurdle was enabling the city to transmit and receive video, voice, and data over the allocated 4.9-gigahertz band, in which each public-safety agency is allotted 50 megahertz of bandwidth. This limited amount of bandwidth meant that MRC had to design an efficient system that would allow video, voice, and data to be simultaneously transmitted and received while granting the user the flexibility of switching across multiple channels within the band to avoid interference.

MRC met the city’s requirements by setting up a bandwidth-efficient system that transports four T1 lines over microwave signals using only 7 megahertz of bandwidth. It also allows the city flexibility to change channels to accommodate other transmissions; for instance, live video from an airborne unit can be accommodated by moving the 7 megahertz of T1 transmission anywhere within the 50-megahertz bandwidth.

“MRC was a logical choice for us,” stated Raul Velasco, communications engineer for the City of Los Angeles. “The City has a significant investment in MRC systems, and they have proven to be very reliable. Our maintenance staff has significant experience on systems built with MRC equipment. In addition, MRC’s diverse product line gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility. This latest system was tailored to meet our communications requirements today, but the same MRC equipment can be reconfigured as needed to meet our communications requirements tomorrow.”

“The system is performing as expected and has already proved its value on several occasions,” said Velasco. “Most recently, the MRC systems were deployed to support Incident Command Posts for the 2007 L.A. Marathon and the Academy Awards.” In addition to mobile vehicles, portable transport units were also used and designed with the same capabilities as the mobile command vehicles. These portable units will allow the city the flexibility to set up communications in areas that are difficult to reach by vehicle or in some cases to expand the communications infrastructure by providing additional intercommunication services.
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From The Police Chief, vol. 74, no. 5, May 2007. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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