SEMS is essentially a management structure. LARCOPP can provide information to all levels of that structure and from each incident site, thereby giving command staff the "ground truth" from each location. Each bit of information gathered by LARCOPP thus becomes a piece of the puzzle that, when put together, becomes the common operating picture.Technology in action
The idea for LARCOPP had been germinating among the region's fire and law enforcement professionals for several months when the Metrolink incident mentioned earlier made clear the need for such a technology. "As we watched the scene unfold, we talked about wouldn't it be nice if we had something like LARCOPP," Edey describes. "It would have been a great tool to help coordinate this kind of incident ... giving us the big picture."
Edey notes that LARCOPP would have indicated where all the resources from the multiple disciplines and agencies were and what they were doing. It also would have taken a load off the incident commander by reducing the number of requests for constant updates.
"Everyone would have had the same information and the same, real-time picture of the scene without the distortion that can happen when you're transmitting information verbally," he says
To fill the needs of NIMS, SEMS and basic incident command, the LARCOPP technology has three integrated programs:
The LARCOPP Portal is easily the most innovative technology and the one that will provide real-time situational awareness and a common operating picture. It is a secure, Web-based platform that can transmit real-time video of an incident via deployable wireless broadband digital cameras, through a video uplink from a news agency camera or from footage shot by a public safety agency's helicopter.
It allows for the transmission of perimeter information, street maps, aerial views of the site, traffic routes, emergency vehicle access and a host of GIS data. It lets commanders locate, track, and move manpower and equipment resources.
The system works in real time, sending the same information to other responding agencies, off-site EOCs, or if needed, to the state EOC or the DHS National Operations Center in Washington, D.C.
The technology, known as AntaresX, has been installed in agency SUVs or mobile command posts. Attached to the top of the vehicle is a 1.2-meter dish that sends information via satellite. The satellite component makes the AntaresX technology extraordinarily robust because it uses a system powerful enough to transmit through rain, smoke or heavy cloud cover.
- The LARCOPP Alert and Notification System facilitates the simultaneous emergency notification of public safety agencies, government officials and key decision-makers that an incident has occurred, and advises them to log onto the LARCOPP Portal for additional information. This component uses commercial technology that alternately pages, e-mails, or sends a voice or text message to recipients' homes, cell phones, PDAs, pagers or offices. It continues to contact the recipients' various numbers until the person logs in and acknowledges the alert. When necessary, the recipient also can log in his response time to the incident scene. That information is relayed to one of the area EOCs to track who has been notified and who is responding to the scene.
- The LARCOPP Event Network is modeled after the National Event Network (NEN) currently in use by DHS and the military. The NEN creates a virtual command team in the event of a fast-developing situation. It allows key decision-makers to quickly collaborate via a secure conference call. The system is activated when the LARCOPP Alert and Notification System notifies a specific roster of personnel that an event is occurring and automatically connects them to a secure conference call. The benefit of this element of the system is its ability to bring together those who are responsible for and trained to deal with the unfolding incident.
In its first phase the LARCOPP suite of hardware and software has been installed in eight California law enforcement and fire agency vehicles (either SUVs or mobile command posts) and two operations centers. There are plans to add 19 vehicles in the next two years and to add the technology to other area operations centers.