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City Poises High Tech Storm Technology

November 26th, 2014 · 3 Comments · News and Events

From city Communications Director Brett Broesder:

A new “virtual” Emergency Operations system, iPads and GoPro technology are in place as the city prepares for the season’s first snowfall.

The Public Facilities department and Emergency Operations Center have been preparing all summer for this winter–adding new technology that will improve communication and coordination to help clear streets more efficiently when it snows–and during any weather-related event.

“We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “Our Emergency Operations Center is tracking the forecast closely. We have a plan in place to keep kids and families safe in the case of inclement weather conditions. But my hope is this will be just a trial run.”

The season’s first snowfall is expected tomorrow. The EOC is closely tracking forecasts to predict potential accumulation.

Crews from Public Facilities have been on the road testing new equipment added to the fleet, including GPS technology, iPads in supervisor vehicles to better coordinate with the EOC, and GoPro technology that allows command staff in the Emergency Operation Center to have real-time images of conditions in the field.

“We have 32 pieces of equipment ready to go if needed,” said Jorge Garcia, the city’s director of Public Facilities. The city also will have seven payloaders on standby with foremen ready to operate them if needed.

This year, the City invested in new technology to improve communication and services to the community during any weather event.

The City, along with 13 other towns in Fairfield County, went on-line with the Veoci system, a software program that enables users to track resources and log incidents quickly and in real-time so that they put up the most effective response possible.

“This is a virtual EOC system,” said Scott Appleby, the head of Emergency Operations and Homeland Security. “It creates a seamless communication stream between people in the Emergency Operations Center and employees in the field, providing real-time information that will improve our efficiency plowing streets during snowstorms or clearing streets during any weather event.”

Click here for pictures and video: /bit.ly/1th8VZZ

Here is an example: The EOC might receive an alert through bConnected about an impassible street during a storm. Staff at the EOC could use one of more than 2,000 private and public cameras located around the city to verify the conditions.

Then, staff in the EOC would be able to identify the nearest Public Facilities plow using new GPS equipment in the trucks and deploy the plow through Veoci via a text message sent to the driver over an iPad or phone.

The city installed GoPro cameras in several of the plows, allowing the EOC to monitor progress in the field.

“This is about information sharing and improved accountability. It’s another tool in our tool box,” said Garcia. “At any given time, we know where all of our resources are and that helps us respond more efficiently for our residents. That’s going to be a real game changer.”

Veoci was most recently used during the visit by President Barack Obama earlier this month and was invaluable to help coordinate security at the Gathering of the Vibes.

Emergency Operations continues to recruit addition people interested in becoming a Community Emergency Response Team member. CERT members are volunteers who finish 20 hours of training and respond during emergencies to help their neighbors and community “when and if Mother Nature delivers us a blow,” said Mayor Finch.

“These are volunteers who help keep safe our kids and families during emergencies, and they have my deepest gratitude.”

People interested in participating can contact the EOC at 203-579-3829.

Mayor Finch also urged residents to download the free bConnected app on their Smartphone that helps people report concerns directly to the right city department, whether it is unplowed streets or graffiti.

Residents can use the City’s bConnected app on their mobile device or online at www.bridgeportct.gov/bconnected.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Tom White

    Earth calling the Minister of Public Enlightenment:
    Yesterday, a release was posted on the city website regarding loose leaf pickups, advising leaves be “prepared” at the curb line. Does this mean they should be in paper bags or simply piled in the street?

    Most of my neighbors bagged leaves which have been picked up. So what is the official policy? Clarification please.

    By the way, there are now leaves piled in the street, blocking the storm drains.

    Hold on, I will download an app.

  • Wingnut

    Cameras in trucks now. GPS, iPods, laptops! If they hired competent employees instead of this one’s nephew, cousin, brother in-law, best man, etc., they would not need to keep tabs on all the employees! I guess when half your department is clueless you need this fancy technology to keep track of them. As far as foreman running heavy equipment, two out of seven have received some type of formal instruction. The others, none. What’s the liability to the city when they have an accident? No wonder my taxes keep going up!!!

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