Facing Tempests in Today's World: Preparing for Disasters Large and Small

 Preparing for Disasters Large and Small

Public safety is listed as FCC National Broadband Plan’s National Need #7 www.broadband.gov ?

In creating “safe and healthy” communities, Federal, state, and local public safety and human service agencies, local congregations, service organizations and social networks get stronger, more intelligent, and more accurate in communications each time they plan together, drill together, and respond together to small disasters, such as fires, or wider emergencies requiring major community rebuilding investments..

The Illinois Broadband Deployment Council and public safety agencies are thinking about how Illinois will build public-private drill-ready networks for today’s public safety communication needs.  BDC members cited local municipal and county needs for (1) interoperable communications among all landline and wireless public safety responders, public and private, to reach everyone via  landlines, cell phones, and the internet, and for (2) integrated communications and utility plans to be ready for the investment of Federal FCC Spectrum sale proceeds that are proposed to be used for public safety wireless networks. 

Who are the Players in public safety networks?

1. As we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency)  launched its Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management for 2011 – 2014, an initiative involving public-private planning, including cooperation in community drills and outreach to strengthen responsiveness both to smaller neighborhood or family disasters and to larger community wide emergencies.  FEMA is relying on human and electronic social networks to respond in flexible ways in its Strategic Plan.   http://www.fema.gov/about/2011_14_strategic_plan_faq.shtm#2

2. Illinois public safety agency and human service communications players such as Illinois Emergency Management Administration, Illinois Department of Human Services, and private sector community response agencies have worked for several years building ready-to-go networks.   IEMA has developed extensive statewide communication interoperability plans and tactical programs, many of which include state public safety agencies and county level programs.   http://www.state.il.us/iema/SCIP.asp

For instance, Coles County Regional Planning and Development Commission – CCRP&DC was contracted to prepare a Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan (TICP or “Tick-P”) to assess all Coles County emergency radio frequencies with the objective of preparing a plan to get them on the same frequency and the same “approach used” when man-made or natural disasters strikes.  This FEMA/IEMA grant came in part because Eastern Illinois University is in Coles County and is considered a terrorist target.

3. For public and private human services agencies, health and public safety come together in a combined safe and healthy communities approach.  Illinois is planning a new and integrated health and human services system designed to improve efficiencies and outcomes of seven state agencies that deliver health and human services.  During summer 2011, the project implementers are seeking stakeholder involvement through a series of Town Hall Conversations to help shape and inform the new information system service recipients and service providers. http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=46673 ).  See  also Illinois Framework - Stakeholder Engagement Project - Illinois Framework Stakeholder Engagement Project


For the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council and the work of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, the state interagency framework provides coordinated Digital Government opportunities for consumer-centric initiatives, such as broadband outreach to vulnerable populations, workers and businesses, community anchor institutions, and in local and regional eTeam planning.  Such efforts include cooperation with IDHS, IEMA and FEMA consumer-friendly public awareness campaigns similar to Illinois statewide and local Broadband Awareness Programs.

In Illinois, regional initiatives include a three-state team for metropolitan Chicago in counties in Southeast Wisconsin, Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana.  In spring 2011, Illinois state and local agencies participated in a multi-state FEMA-linked Earthquake Drill for the basin linked with the New Madrid fault and worked on flooding and levee management in southern Illinois, Missouri, and adjoining areas.

4. Improving Performance: Building a safety culture based on data on how players and populations respond.  A May 2011 Chicago roundtable convened by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign focused on Safety Culture and Safety Informatics for 21st Century Organizations.   The roundtable provided insights and strategies for grappling with safety issues across and within organizations, and shared research in cultural and information dimensions of safety, measuring and assessing safety culture and safety informatics, new industry and regulatory standards, and cross-industry and cross organizational benchmarking of safety performances. 

By looking at safety in the news today – aviation safety, nuclear safety, drilling safety, food safety, school safety, medical safety, product safety, workplace safety – we can look at cultures and team efforts which can effectively use information – communicated personally and electronically by trusted and capable parties – to have an impact on lives.  Regular  and speedy delivery of understandable data to local human service and public safety offices, to local public officials, and to community improvement stakeholders enables all players to have the same information as decisions are made as to how to respond to community needs, whether there’s an emergency or not.


The future of public safety communication in Illinois 2011-2012

In remembering September 11, 2001 and other disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Illinois public safety, human services and university-community college extension communities remember how all Illinois regions can pull together.  After Katrina hit, many Illinois university and community “wireless” volunteers helped set up wireless communication in several Gulf Coast communities, and state and local human service agencies assisted several thousand refugees coming into Illinois temporarily and in many cases permanently.   As we plan for 2011-2012, Illinois public safety agencies and community service-focused universities, community colleges and health facilities will be building local networks together in many ways. Included will be events and celebrations surrounding the 150th Anniversary of Morrill Land Grant College Act of July 2, 1862 which laid the basis for University of Illinois research, teaching and community extension programs, and the first community college in the nation Joliet Junior College in 1902.   

During this coming year, it is expected that a good deal of community-by-community, road-by-road and parcel-by-parcel public safety network data will be integrated into university research-developed virtual infrastructure (and services) software.  Local Application performance tools for public and private agencies and local public officials will include Constituent Dashboard daily summaries of 911, 311, 211 and digital government data, along the lines of New York City analysis of 311 data. See What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York | Wired Magazine | November 2010 http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/ff_311_new_york/

 LAYTON E. OLSON is of counsel to the law firm of Howe & Hutton, Ltd.  He has over 35 years of experience in representation of charitable groups and businesses and consulting firms which work with charities. He also has a general law practice. Layton facilitates legislative and regulatory initiatives in education, health care, transportation, and community technologies in Washington, D.C., Springfield, and Chicago. He is a recognized and published leader in start up and regulation of nonprofit institutions in Illinois. He served as Chair of the Trade and Professional Associations Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association and was a founder of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the CBA. He graduated from Pomona College, University of California, Berkeley Law School (Boalt Hall), and is licensed in Illinois and California. Layton is also a manager with over 15 years of experience as chief executive of nonprofit organizations and project manager with a focus on public-private for urban and community revitalization. He has managed initiatives for the improvement of economically distressed areas of Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana, including in brownfield revitalization and telecommunication infrastructure, and has led resource development for Illinois state wide consortium for digital, literary and technology access.

Tags: Blog, Digital Government, FEMA, IDHS, IEMA, Partnership for a Connected Illinois, public safety

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Partnership for a Connected Illinois 1337 Wabash Ave. Springfield, IL 62704 Phone: (217) 886-4228 Fax: (217) 718-4546 info@broadbandillinois.org