New York Safety Officials Collaborate to Secure Large-Scale Events

New York Safety Officials Collaborate to Secure Large-Scale Events

Safety officials from the Oswego area are collaborating to increase security for large-scale events

Public safety officials are collaborating to increase security infrastructure at large public events in Oswego, N.Y.

According to police and fire officials, the Harborfest in July will feature increased security measures for the tens of thousands of attendees.

Oswego Fire Department Chief Randy Griffin and Deputy Chief Justin Norfleet said they’re working to implement strategies learned from an on-site collaboration with Chicago emergency operatives preparing for the city’s annual marathon last October. Emergency officials in Chicago recruited members of the emergency management communities of Oswego and Houston, Texas, to help them with planning and response.

“There are things we can learn from a large-scale event like the Chicago Marathon to things we’re doing here locally,” Norfleet said.

Griffin said the experience with Chicago was “invaluable.”

“I approached [Norfleet] late last summer and said a colleague of mine, who is the deputy director for emergency management for the city of Chicago, offered us an opportunity to come and help with the planning process for the Chicago Marathon,” Griffin said. “I thought it would be a good idea to see how other cities manage incidents and large events.”

Norfleet was able to get an inside look at the security infrastructure protecting the 45,000 participants and 1.7 million spectators at the marathon, including the aid stations and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC housed a team of health and safety professionals responding to calls.

According to Norfleet, one crucial point he took away was how Oswego events could benefit from similar operating centers using existing equipment, if the public safety and municipal staff could collaborate.

“Here’s one of the takeaways — it doesn’t have to be fancy. [The EOC] is a tent with table, phones and masking tape,” Norfleet said.

The police and fire departments already share communication, but an EOC would provide a single operating station for their crew members during an event.

“Does an operations center for an event have to be super fancy and high tech? No,” Norfleet said. “There are things you need. You need phones, you need some kind of data connection and a TV.”

Norfleet said public safety officers will set up markers around Oswego, allowing anyone calling emergency responders to identify their exact location using an alphanumeric labeling system.

A police and operations center staffed by fire police and law enforcement would oversee the event using surveillance technology, including camera monitors with GPS tracking abilities.

“It’s people in chairs with laptops communication devices,” Norfleet said. “It’s problem solving with people all in the room.”

According to Griffin, the fire department is working with the Oswego County Department of Planning and Community Development to create a Geospatial Information System (GIS), a digital topographical map allowing the user to interact with their environment in real time.

“The idea would be i can take a map of the city of Oswego...and I would be able to see where all the chemicals are stored in the city. If the wind is blowing in this direction, who would be affected by that? Instead of reading that in a narrative format, I’m actually seeing it geospatially,” Griffin said.

GIS would let public safety officials access public and private surveillance cameras if they use digital technology, Griffin said, though it’s not clear when they would be able to implement this, he added.

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