Protecting the Perimeter

Innovative funding ideas keep metro Atlanta protected and prepared

Atlanta is also headquarters to some of the world's biggest corporations such as Coca Cola, Bank of America, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Delta Airlines and Turner Broadcasting, including the CNN World Center.

Law enforcement works on a "daily basis to ensure needs are being evaluated and being met," Davis adds.

The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, commonly known as MARTA, also receives approximately $2 million annually for new security initiatives and maintenance.

Davis says the first rounds of UASI funding also assisted in setting up the special airport unit of the Atlanta Police Department and the installation of security cameras and perimeter fencing enhancements.

Surveillance subsidies

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) and the Atlanta Police Department originally hoped to obtain homeland security funding for a surveillance initiative to provide significant infrastructure for a video signal integration project.

However, the project did not meet the original scope guidelines. Instead, they started a program with intentions of obtaining funds to enhance the integration and video components of the surrounding area.

Currently, they are adding more privately funded cameras to the existing 14 base cameras. The goal is to link the surveillance monitoring with MidTown Alliance, MidTown Blue and Buckhead, a police-monitored surveillance system already in operation in two other major population- and commerce-dense areas.

Downtown and MidTown, both part of the Zone 5 Police Precinct, have dedicated off-duty improvement and district-funded mobile police response to surveillance sightings.

The next objective is to synchronize police efforts and incident response to link the surveillance systems of the Atlanta Police Department and ADID systems with seven other jurisdictional law enforcement agencies in downtown.

These agencies include MARTA Police, Georgia State Patrol, Federal Protective Service, GWCC Police, Georgia State University Police, Georgia-Tech Police, and National Park Service.

Additionally, common area cameras will be added in and around special events venues such as the Georgia Dome, GWCC, Philips Arena, Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola, along with other key properties in the downtown area.

With funding, this program will later expand to encompass other major regional venues, such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Turner Field, the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and the Arena at Gwinnett Center, with the largest concentration of cameras in downtown Atlanta.

Communications initiatives

The ADID is working on a related initiative with the Atlanta Police Department and the Police Foundation to upgrade to the COMNET radio communications system, currently used primarily in the downtown area. The Atlanta City Worksite, for example, is an Internet-based information sharing component which will revolutionize communications downtown for daily and emergency operations.

An information sharing program such as this is extremely low-cost, and will provide a multitude of new features to incorporate video from current and future camera systems. These programs are now packaged city-wide as part of Operation Shield, sponsored by the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Security Council, and will have a tremendous impact on their daily public safety and emergency preparedness posture.

"We are a very fortunate city to enjoy the public-private partnerships between the business communities, the city administration and police, and our other partnering law enforcement agencies, which enables us to share long-term visions and goals," states David Wardell, vice president, operations and public safety for Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

Maj. Stan Savage, commander of the Atlanta 911 Communications Section, is always concerned about radio interoperability.

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