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State Of Texas To Deploy Statewide Citizen-Evacuation System

AT&T Inc. has announced a new contract to deliver a custom mobility solution to the Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) for the state of Texas. The solution, the Texas Special Needs Evacuation Tracking System (SNETS), is the country's first statewide citizen-evacuation system and uses a variety of RFID, wireless and mobile data technologies to provide real-time information on evacuees, enabling the GDEM to better support the evacuees and their families during a crisis.

The GDEM is responsible for assisting cities, counties and state agencies in planning and implementing their emergency-management programs as well as carrying out a comprehensive, all-hazard emergency-management program for the state. Under the terms of the contract, AT&T will serve as the primary provider and deliver wireless RFID service to support a statewide emergency-evacuation tracking system. The tracking system, which was successfully deployed in 2006 and 2007 during state evacuation simulations, will help safely evacuate citizens in the event of any large-scale man-made or natural disaster.

In the event of an emergency evacuation, evacuees will be registered on-site and issued a bar-coded RFID wristband. An evacuee's wristband will be scanned by the GDEM with a wireless device as the evacuee boards a state-contracted vehicle, and the information will be added to the bus boarding log. Evacuee intake information and location will then be sent wirelessly to The University of Texas Center for Space Research data center. The vehicles will be equipped with GPS systems to track the location along the evacuation route. Upon reaching the destination, the system will update evacuee profiles and provide real-time information. This will enable state employees to respond to inquiries from the public about the safety of evacuated family members and to reunite families that have been separated during a large-scale disaster.

Rugged handheld computers from Motorola Inc. will be used for the enrollment and tracking of evacuees throughout the process. In addition, Motorola bar-code scanners and RFID readers will be used in the registration and final destination check-in process for evacuees.

The AT&T solution will provide the wireless network and hardware support for the emergency evacuation tracking system. The highly available and secure wireless network provides agencies with reliable, high speed network access and services, including 24/7 network monitoring of status to ensure the quality transfer of voice and data traffic.

"We wanted to enhance our existing emergency evacuation planning strategy with a new system for tracking and locating evacuees," said Jack Colley, chief of the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management. "We are confident that the statewide emergency-evacuation tracking system will not only help save lives and effectively ascertain the location of the displaced citizens, but it will also provide the state with the ability to update the families of the evacuees and effectively allocate search-and-rescue resources. The RFID solution will improve the GDEM's command and control management of large-scale disasters within the state by enabling officials to efficiently allocate valuable emergency resources."

"The statewide emergency-evacuation tracking system is an innovative new custom solution that enhances our already robust portfolio of mobility solutions," said Chris Hill, vice president of government solutions for AT&T's wireless unit. "State and local agencies will benefit from collaborative solutions such as this one, because they will provide citizens with an efficient evacuation system that effectively tracks each evacuee's location while reducing the need to conduct extensive search-and-rescue missions that risk lives."

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