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How GPS Tracking Aids Post 9/11 Homeland Security

Oct 11, 2007
It's now been a few years since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and many of us get complacent thinking that no more attacks on US soil will ever happen. But what has been reported by Washington is that there are now 10,000 foreigners from states that sponsor terrorism living in the US and they have obtained permanent residency in the the United States in the past 7 years. So the risk of yet even more powerful attacks on US soil is only a matter of time. We must not get lulled into thinking it won't happen again.

This article explores the ways in which GPS Tracking technology is being used in conjunction of an application called the Mobile Tactical Collaboration System. It's and example of the Mobile Command Post of the Future to effectively help coordinate missions to thwart another major terrorist attack.

First we preset details of an exercise performed during the Southwestern Pennsylvania Operation Steel Hammer; a harbor security counterterrorism exercise in the City of Pittsburgh.

At approximately 0900 hours this morning, Pittsburgh River Rescue police officers observed a small boat moored along the water entrance of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Two occupants were spotted and as they were questioned, one of the officers observed a suspicious package. Additional searches of the boat revealed the existence of schedules and photographs of Gateway Clipper Fleet vessels, suggesting an attempt may be underway to commandeer one of the vessels and ram it onto a bridge support and/or detonate a hazardous device.

This was confirmed by an emergency call from Fleet offices that one of their boats, the Liberty Belle, had been commandeered by unknown assailants.

A multi-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary task force was mobilized which included Pittsburgh River Rescue Unit, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Pittsburgh Police Special Deployment Division (aka SWAT), Pittsburgh Fire Bureau, EMS Divers, Pennsylvania State Police SERT, Intelligence Unit, and Office of Emergency Management, to identify, assess, interdict, board the Liberty Belle and neutralize the threat.

Thus began the Pittsburgh portion of Operation Steel Hammer, a 13-county Southwestern Pennsylvania regional (Region 13) counterterrorism exercise under the auspices of the US Department of Homeland Security.

Following the exercise, the quotes from Steel Hammer participants about the benefits they gained from using MTCS and AdvanTraq GPS were punctuated by 'awesome'. They included: MTCS workspaces and common operating picture enabled operators to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate visually, effectively, and in real time.

Until the introduction of the Mobile Tactical Collaboration System, first responders had to rely exclusively on radio handsets for tactical communication. Although radios are trusted and reliable, responders experience difficulty describing complex situations and strategies using verbal communication alone.

The integrated tracking device allows commanders and operators enhanced situational awareness by overlaying actual unit positions dynamically on top of the operations plans. Our operators were pleased with the robustness, ease-of-use, fast training, and intuitive look and feel of this new technology which allowed them to focus their attention more on sharpening their tactical skills using the tool rather than being frustrated by its complexity.

From campus security to port security, from critical infrastructure protection to border patrol, from major sporting event security management to VIP transportation, from man-made to environmental disaster response, the challenges faced by public safety officials and first responders in the post 9/11 world are as complex as they are numerous.

About Mobile Tactical Collaboration System:

Developed using industry standard Web 2.0-based technologies, MTCS represents the next generation of intuitive, easy-to-use browser-based collaborative command and control solutions for public safety. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, MTCS enhances public safety officers ability to communicate and collaborate visually and in real-time using tactical graphics, digital maps, and shared workspaces. It facilitates the rapid design of multiple scenarios, one or more of which can be executed based on real-time contingencies and at the discretion of tactical commanders.

The MTCS platform addresses the 5Cs of Interoperability for tactical operators and first responders - Communication, Collaboration, Coordination, Command and Control. This level of interoperability is a must for critical incidents requiring multi-jurisdictional and multidisciplinary response, and for the related exercises necessary to sharpen the tactical proficiencies of operators.

MTCS is accessible by authorized personnel in the field using mobile data terminals or ultra mobile PCs via secure wireless broadband, or at the operation center using desktop PCs and LAN lines. Microsoft Virtual Earth is the standard mapping imagery delivered by MTCS, however other customer imagery can be incorporated.

AdvanTraq GPS and MTCS provide commanders and other senior leadership an unprecedented level of real-time situational awareness of an executing operation and its operators, significantly increasing operator accountability and safety. The versatility of the MTCS platform enables it to be used by law enforcement, fire/EMS, search and rescue, and EOC personnel in a variety of command and control scenarios. These include perimeter and border security, SWAT operations, major sporting event security management, disaster security response, multi-alarm fire suppression, preparedness training and exercises, post-incident analysis, and day-to-day public safety activities.
About the Author
Glenn Frieboth, owner of GLC Enterprises, Inc., based in Illinois. Find more information about how Mobile Tactical Collaboration System is using GPS Tracking and Virtual Earth for Advanced Mobile Security Here.
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