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Wireless GIS Solution Aids WTC Rescue Efforts

Sending for Reinforcements

Throughout the setup and testing of the six mobile systems, we were also providing training and support to the entire EOC. By Monday afternoon, September 17, it had become quite clear that Troy, John, and I could not keep up with ever-growing EOC staff and training requirements. We agreed to bring in additional people from Osceola County and the E Team head office. Emergency management specialist Georgianne Cherry and emergency management director Matt Meyers, both of Osceola County, joined the New York City rescue efforts the next morning. E Team sent Dave Fletcher, a Lotus Domino administrator.

I had also received an additional shipment of six laptops that would be used as mobile units and felt confident that Verizon could provide the required infrastructure. I continued configuring the mobile units for deployment while providing technical and training support to the OEM staff.

It took most of Tuesday, September 18, to complete configuration of the mobile units, meet with the new arrivals, and get everything squared away. Matt would provide additional training and operational support while we set up a training area for Georgianne. Using the five computers set up in the training area, she began providing training to the EOC staff every half hour-around the clock. Dave and I continued to plan, configure, and deploy the mobile units. Once we finished preparing the mobile units, things started to come together.

Even in the EOC, where signal strength had been low, we had excellent coverage. That evening Matt and I deployed the units to the staging area, provided training, and tested the wireless infrastructure at the command posts located at ground zero. The staging areas were being staffed by Air and Army National Guard, and training for those personnel was completed quickly. All the wireless components were now working.

Up and Running

The last step was to retest the wireless connectivity in the zone. Just as Verizon's staff had promised, the zone was now saturated. All areas on and around ground zero were covered so the mobile units would work as first planned. By the end of the week, the commanders at ground zero were saving time by using TOUGHBooks for requesting equipment directly from the staging area and, because the laptops were running E Team software, those in the field could view the same maps as those staffing the EOC.

Maps showing damaged buildings and hazardous zones; click to see enlargement
The Emergency Mapping Center supplied maps that showed current conditions including destroyed and damaged buildings, no power zones, and hazardous areas.

In the early hours of Wednesday, September 19, the team closed the loop. Most, if not all, of the EOC staff were utilizing the system. The field units could participate and coordinate with EOC operations. Requests for resources went directly to staging personnel who could fulfill them or forward them on to logistics. The EOC staff could monitor critical equipment and resource requests for the more than 200 agencies involved and generate situation reports.


This project could not have been completed without a team effort. I found it refreshing to see so many different agencies working toward a common goal. The personnel involved in all aspects of the operation should be commended. Without their commitment, expertise, and dedication, this effort could never have succeeded. As a native of Coney Island, Brooklyn, I felt it was a privilege and an honor to be able to assist in this effort.

About the Author

Eric Kant, currently an emergency management specialist for Osceola County, Florida, has also worked as a firefighter paramedic and paramedic supervisor, emergency medical technician, and public safety manager. He holds a degree in network administration from Florida Metropolitan University and multiple certifications in Microsoft (MCSE, MCP+1, MOUS), Lotus (CLS), and Novel (CNA) technologies. His company, EHK Consulting Inc., provides consulting, system architecture, evaluation, and customized data reporting specifically for the emergency management and public safety sector.

For more information, contact Eric Kant at

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