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New technologies ready for front lines of terrorism war

Command & control equipment, communications help track
state and local assets in real-time - for any emergency

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Dec. 14, 2004) - There are many affordable, currently available technologies that would allow state and local governments to be better prepared for any emergency - not just a terrorist attack, experts agreed during a think tank forum Dec. 13 at Ohio State University.

"States and cities need the same tools the military has," said Paul Helmke, former mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., and now chairman of anti-terror consultancy Sentry Points. "But most municipalities don't think they're going to be the target of terrorism - instead, they're more concerned about accidents and emergencies."

In other words, participants were told during the day-long session at OSU's Schottenstein Center, any equipment must not only be "off-the-shelf" and affordable, but also easy to integrate into current systems and available for use on a daily basis.

Too often, a vendor will come in and suggest revamping the communications system - something a city may have spent thousands of dollars on, said Dan Estrem, ex-FBI counter-terrorism agent and currently consultant for Center for Strategic Management. That won't fly and could even alienate the government against new expenditures. New technologies must fit into current configurations and leverage assets. He also said it is important to make sure the technology is easy to use by the rank and file or it will never be successfully adopted.

Among the tools presented at the forum:

· Law Enforcement Information Exchange - A system for sharing information across jurisdictions so critical information won't fall through the cracks. These systems allow police agencies to upload and share information without violating privacy concerns.

· Situation Awareness - A method of tracking state and local emergency units on the ground in real time and display them on a map at a command center using GPS technology. These assets can be contacted directly through the system for immediate deployment and can be accessed through secure external communications links. The system was originally developed for the military and a version of it is currently in use in Iraq.

· Database Fusion - Database adapters that allow for the secure, rapid linking of disparate law enforcement systems to enable more effective linking of information that could catch future terrorists before they have a chance to act.

· Smart Video Security - Real-time security monitoring system that utilizes cameras, satellite technology and sensors to keep track of approaching boats, vehicles or people into protected areas.

· Alert Notification, Event Collaboration and Remote Information Sharing - Two products from Leader Technologies, Leader2Leader and Leader Alert that help link command and control tools together. Leader2Leader allows remote access to command center maps so the information can be viewed securely by key officials from anywhere in the world. Leader Alert provides instant voice and text messaging via cellphone, radio, voicemail or email to distribute critical information, provide instructions, and to quell rumors.

· Radio/Phone Interoperability - A radio frequency router that allows old and new police, fire and EMS radios on different frequencies to talk to each other, something that failed to happen at Ground Zero, resulting in the deaths of many first responders.

· Alternative Financing - New forms of state and local financing for command and control were explored; ways that would allow agencies to get started now to protect the public interest instead of waiting for federal funds.

· Wireless Phones - The latest in GPS technology for cellphones was demonstrated. These devices will allow officials to more readily identify where their personnel and equipment are when responding to an event.

Also highlighted during the forum was The Ohio State University Program for International and Homeland Security, which identifies key policy issues, needs and obstacles affecting cross-agency command and control implementation and coordination.

"Kenneth Morckel, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and Ohio Homeland Security have a robust and well-organized program compared to other states," said Warren Parish, co-host, and Homeland Security consultant.

"The forum was a great success," said Michael McKibben, founder and chairman of Leader, host for the event. "We're already three years past the events of 9/11 and many state and local governments are still no closer to having many of the command and control tools they need in the event of major emergencies. This forum showed that those tools are affordable and available now."

For more information, contact John Frees at 614-939-1674 or Michael McKibben at 614-890-1986.

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