THE INTERNET AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
SECOND IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES
This is the second article in a series about how the Internet has become so vital to both crisis and consequence management in the
field of emergency management.
“Success knows many fathers, but failure is a orphan” is a saying that rings true when recalling the events of September 11th, 2001. The Internet has been lionized and damned by various segments of our global society. I will try to show just how this much-maligned information highway saved the City of New York from much more horrific consequences.
On September 11th and in the hours after the attack on the World Trade Center here in New York City, the command center of the Office of Emergency Management of the City of New York was destroyed when 7
World Trade Center collapsed into a pile of smoldering rubble.
When both Towers imploded causing the enormous dust cloud that enshrouded lower Manhattan, even One Police Plaza lost its communications. Cellular phone service in Manhattan and other areas of the city were also disrupted. The media had learned from the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 not to totally depend on the Twin Towers for television service. With redundant transmitting towers available, television service was maintained. Millions of viewers witnessed the attack and its aftermath on their TV sets. This proved to be of vital importance because Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was continually on the air being interviewed in real time. Members of the media and press stayed by his side as thousands fled from the destruction. His conduct and behavior under the most trying circumstances were recorded for history. His leadership in such catastrophic events is recognized by the citizens of New York City and the world.
Perhaps of equal importance, was the fact that his administration had contracted to purchase a software system for emergency management and had planned to place that system online during the month of
The software that the Giuliani Administration planned to use had been supplied with all the vital data on the City of New York. Information such as street mapping, GPS coordinates, and other data enabled the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to establish a new command center from scratch on Pier 92, Hudson River within hours of the attack!
The software was originally designed for the military for battlefield coordination. The software is designed by a company named E-Team, Incorporated http://www.eteam.com The following article was
written a few months after September 11th:
By Michelle Delio
2:00 a.m. Nov. 2, 2001 PST
NEW YORK --
"For the first two days after the attack, we coordinated everything on paper or by e-mail," said a
spokesman from Mayor Rudy Giuliani's office. "Our emergency management computer systems were crushed when the towers went down. Cell phone service was mostly nonexistent.... It became
apparent that we needed very sophisticated technology to effectively handle the crisis."
The city had purchased E Team emergency management software in August.
The system was set to launch on Sept. 17. But even if it had gone live a week earlier, it wouldn't have helped. The software had been installed on computers in the city's emergency command center
on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center (WTC). Seven WTC became unstable and was evacuated soon after the Twin Towers collapsed. Then, at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, 7 WTC also collapsed.
E Team chief executive Matt Walton said he'll never forget the call he got at around 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 from John Hughes, an E Team vice president.
Hughes, a former NYC fire captain, told Walton what had just happened in New York. Walton immediately attempted to call NYC's emergency management office, was unable to connect by
phone, but finally contacted someone by e-mail.
"We knew that Tower Number 7 was probably not going to make it," Walton said. "We contacted
the mayor's office and told them we would put up the New York databases on our own servers. In less than 12 hours, we had the system online and operational. The city wasn't able to connect until
Friday, but when they did, they connected with a T3 line joined to 200 workstations. They tied into our servers and they've been running off of them ever since."
The E Team system also allows rescuers to connect wirelessly. The Fire Department was the first to use the wireless application to coordinate delivery of supplies and equipment they needed on the
scene, said E Team's Hughes.
Hughes, a retired fire captain and former executive in the city's Office of Emergency Management, said he lost more than 200 friends who were firefighters on Sept. 11.
"So my work here is a personal as well as a professional issue," he said. "It's been so satisfying to be
part of the technology team at the largest rescue and recovery mission our nation has ever seen."
E Team's software was originally engineered for the military to use in battlefield coordination.
Walton said he realized the application could have commercial use after experiencing the Northridge earthquake in 1994.
"I had this big epiphany," Walton said. "I realized that this technology which had
been created to manage battles could also be used to handle natural disasters because battles are
simply man-made disasters."
Reprinted from Wired News, http://www.wired.com. Copyright (c) 2001 Wired Digital Inc., Lycos Network site. All rights reserved.
I contacted executives at E Team and was invited to a virtual demonstration of their product. Barry Adams, Manager of Tele-business, E Team, Inc. arranged for the demo via web conferencing via
Placeware Web Conferencing. Mr. Barry and Troy Armstrong conducted a professional demonstration of their product.
Visit the web site for more information: http://www.eteam.com
During the demonstration, the fact that the software is Incident Command System compliant made it obvious that the software is state of the art in emergency management. Any public entity whether at
the federal, state, or local level would be well advised to employ this system in their emergency management program. The private sector also has the opportunity to use E Team in the corporate version.
I conduct seminars at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the subject of Combating Workplace Violence.
In addition to all forms of threatening and violent behavior, terrorism and hostage taking are key areas that are discussed. The tragedy that occurred at Columbine provided us with the worst-case scenario
when there is an absence of coordination and control with effective communications and intelligence. E Team software can provide a valuable instrument for command, control, communications and
intelligence in crisis management. The corporate version of the software provides private safety and security in the private sector with similar databases of their corporate facilities. This data can
provide first responders and emergency service personnel with the critical information needed in on-going incidents.
One of the great advantages of E Team is the ability to use wireless laptops or hand held PCs for communication in real time by police and fire commanders. The software also has the capacity deal
with multiple incidents. The Incident Commander can maintain command and control in incidents covering extensive geographical areas.
The Office of Emergency Management of the City of New York uses E Team software. It is time that every high-rise building in the City of New York obtain this software for the safety and security
of those who work and play in those buildings.
Copyright © 2003 Edward D. Reuss
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