The following were posted on the Electronic National Dialogue on Transportation Operations.

Re: QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Security - The New 'Buzzword' Or Legitimate Diversion Of Operations Resources?

Date: Friday, 12 October 2001, at 9:24 a.m.

As a practical matter, a system that is familiar to responders and emergency support personnel and is used by them every day to handle relatively mundane tasks such as congestion management and minor incident clearance will, under extreme conditions, be second-nature to them when it counts. ITS that reliably and effectively provides information and cross-agency communication during normal rush hours, planned construction, parades and sporting events, as well as major accidents, can also be used to assist in security, evacuation and other war-time conditions.

It is extremely important that agencies not trash their ITS deployments to concentrate solely on a security-only approach. Instead, ensure that ITS deployment includes disaster recovery planning, failure analysis (of equipment and communications), and cross-agency cooperation. Detection and prevention of threats is a large field all its own, one which certified security professionals should assist in. But as anyone can see, if a threat has not been prevented, the aftermath of the following minutes, hours, days and weeks must be handled as efficiently as possible. And an impact in someone else's jurisdiction will have impacts on your own. ITS will help.

Date: Tuesday, 16 October 2001, at 3:42 p.m.

Sure, I remember all of that Y2K behavior. It was run out of the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management bunker at 7 World Trade Center - you know, the place that had to be evacuated immediately and eventually collapsed.

At our agency, Y2K was run out of an Interim Operations Center on Randall's Island, which we just happened to have improved about a month before September 11. Sure has come in useful the last few weeks. We're going to be working really hard on upgrading it even further.

Just came from a presentation by Al Leidner and others in charge of all the GIS mapping needs relating to September 11. Seems they were located one block north of the disaster and lost all of their infrastructure. Eventually they were set up on Pier 92, with powerful servers and workstations donated by Compaq and plotters donated by HP and NYC Base Map files from Hunter and 100 GIS volunteers working around the clock from every city agency imaginable (Parks, EPA, you name it) and FEMA and GIS vendors like ESRI and Plangraphics, putting out street maps for out-of-town rescuers, processing that LIDAR data, showing where power and telephone and other outages were, where traffic was being restricted, potential sites for morgues, you name it - all built up from literarily nothing. No one had ever imagined having to deal with a disaster area this large and complicated, and everyone is coming together to help tackle the problems.

Al made a statement (I don't have perfect recall, but I'm pretty close) that we all should heed. He said, "Eveything you do in peacetime, becomes essential in an emergency situation. And everything we didn't do [meaning, we knew it had to be done but we hadn't gotten around to it yet], cost us dearly." So, for example, they hadn't gotten around to reconciling the building identification numbers (BIN) to the building outlines from the orthophotography yet. Then they had six agencies inspecting buildings using different street addresses as identifiers, and had to struggle with whether they were inspecting the same building. You know, little things like that!

By all means, dust off your Y2K contingency plans, your evacuation procedures, your disaster recovery plans, everything you have - and think about whether there's more you should take into consideration. When it's time to act, you may not have a second chance to calmly consider your options. And cleaning up your data is not something you want to be doing while firefighters are screaming for accurate info.

Link back to My Personal September 11 Page.

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Last Updated: September 12, 2007