Dallas Area Wired to Fight Disaster

By: Artgib
Disaster agencies in the Dallas area are getting high-tech with their network solutions. The city's police and fire departments are able to share information about disasters when they occur to coordinate efforts. The shared network will also connect to the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration, U.S. Customer and Border Protection and Southwest Airlines Co. Dallas disaster recovery sources can communicate with all of the local emergency teams. The new system, called Emergency Response Network (ERN), was the first of its kind launched by a major metropolitan city.

The network system was put together by a private vendor that was employed by the city through a bid system. One of the unique systems that were placed was a universal frequency that is sent from the network that travels as an AM radio signal. This is one of the routes that the new network uses as a pathway to keep all teams in check.

A little while ago the Downtown Emergency Response Team (DERT) put this new network emergency plan to use. A recent windstorm knocked down portions of a water tower on top of a downtown building in the business district. In fear of the whole tower collapsing, the Dallas disaster recovery system sent out AM radio announcements through an AM radio signal that all facilities can pick up. The details were also relayed through the systems network and sent via email to emergency worker pagers, PDAs, cell phone text and the like.

With that alert system, police were able to stop traffic flow to two downtown Dallas thoroughfares. And due to the effectiveness of the new communication systems the transportation district could route traffic through alternate streets and walkways. The details were not only relayed to folks in the public sector, but private Dallas managed services, engineers and business owners alike were given the details of the interference blow by blow.

9/11 and Better Emergency Communication

So in the wake of the terrorism and large scale natural disasters, the feds have put a lot of stock in emergency preparedness. With a nod to the Dallas area's choice of tying in their communication systems, they were given nearly a million dollar grant from the department of homeland security. The subject or better preparedness in the wake of large-scale disaster became paramount after emergency agencies in New York tried to get their city response logistics in order but came upon a huge cluster of overwhelming problems after the trade centers were struck.

The actions taken by Dallas officials were praised by State Representative and Dallas native, Rep. Pete Sessions, claiming that this was a positive solution for one of the biggest problems the U.S. has in terms of emergency response. With the praise and money given the city and its network vendor still had to make due with preexisting hardware.
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