Intelligent Public Safety in Action

Simulated Terror Situation Drives Home Importance of Communication

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I’m here at the Guardian Center. This full-scale training facility, located in Perry, GA, is where Public Safety goes to test new technologies and their operational impact on real-world scenarios.

I watch from my secure vantage point in the Joint Operations Center (JOC), watching as police and SWAT officers reset their positions. In this simulated city, the smoke is clearing from the previous exercise run, actors playing the role of citizens are returning to  their positions at a simulated street festival, and several drones, helicopters, and even a camera-equipped remote control blimp are all hovering above providing stunning HD video to onlookers over 4/5G connections. It’s prep time for the next run of this week’s Operation Convergent Response (OCR) event, held annually and hosted by Verizon and Nokia.

Next Era of Emergency Communications In Action

This year, the Avaya Public Safety Team, along with solution partner 911inform, is helping simulate a complex terrorist attack and response as part of a public safety/emergency response demonstration. The event isn’t real, but does an incredible job at simulating the real-world, and helps underscore the dire implications of unplanned emergency response and the need for not only the right technology, but the appropriate use cases that first responders require when training for these dire scenarios.

In this simulation, a group of terrorists have targeted a street festival. After attacking the crowd, and exchanging gunfire with police, they make their way toward the Guardian Center Inn, a nearby mock hotel, where they begin to take hostages on several floors.

Avaya’s Threat Management Solution, powered by 911inform, has been built into the hotel and stands ready to coordinate with the police response that will come from both the ground and air. Once the terrorists enter the hotel, a front desk worker presses a “panic” button. This immediately triggers a workflow that puts the building into lockdown, securing external doors on the property, sends an automatic notification to guests and staff with instructions on what to do next, and establishes an IP communications link with Public Safety officials allowing situational awareness to flow both ways.

In the Public Safety Operations Center, access to door controls and video cameras is put in the hands of the responding agency, and building staff is dynamically updated with the status of the response through a small desktop display, called a POD. This allows Public Safety to keep staff informed as the situation progresses.

When responding SWAT officers arrive on site, they are now ready to breach the property. But flashing blue strobe lights indicate the building is in lockdown, and a red light on the lobby doors indicate they are locked. The SWAT Team Leader then radios in that they are ready to enter, and The Tactical Operations Command Center remotely releases the door locks through a unique and secure connection that has been made with the property, enabled by the Avaya Threat Management Solution powered by 911inform.

In addition to the strobe lights and door lock status lights, an IP-based paging horn is used since the crowd of spectators would be unable to ‘see’ a door locked or open.

The simulation is scheduled to run three times during each day of the event, with approximately 40 attendees per run. These people are key decision-makers across enterprises, police departments, school campuses and municipalities (IT Directors, CIOs, Compliance Officers, Directors of Operations/Facilities). This also includes foreign dignitaries who are looking to improve federal civilian government and/or defense and military.

Empowering Citizens and Emergency Staff

Since 2009, at least 177 of America’s schools experienced a shooting. In a 10-year period between 2001 and 2011, the United States experienced over 200 terrorist attacks. We can’t just keep saying we need better public safety. We need to do something about it with faster and more effective emergency response. Having a detailed action plan and effective equipment in place is key to limiting damage and saving lives, and in just a few short months this will be federally mandated in the United States with Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act.

Starting Feb. 16, 2020, Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act will require that every communications platform in the United States have a default configuration that enables users to dial 9-1-1 without a prefix. The law also requires on-site notification of a 9-1-1 call that includes a detailed “dispatchable location” to decrease response time.

Businesses that fail to comply risk heavy fines, in addition to the potentially devastating civil liabilities should an emergency occur.  

The Avaya Threat Management Solution developed by 911inform utilizes the world’s first next-generation 911 (NG911) additional data repository (ADR) network by RapidSOS. This NENA i3 compliant connection provides Public Safety officials with situational awareness and data directly from the field.

Personally, I am honored to be part of the team that participates and contributes to events like OCR. With essential partners like 911inform, Avaya has brought life to this technology, and confirmed the relevance of the solution in a real-world scenario.

It’s simply not enough to just say, “We need a better solution.” We need to provide leadership and actually be the solution. We couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done on this end.

If you didn’t get to attend OCR in person this year and talk to us, you can visit our website to learn more about Avaya’s Public Safety solutions.

Download this white paper to learn how NG911 is fundamentally changing emergency calling, including revolutionary capability for enterprise phone systems. For the first time ever, real-time multimedia and location information can be delivered directly to public safety answering points and first responders.

mark avaya

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP, is Avaya's Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions. With a telecommunications career spanning three decades, Fletch defines the strategic roadmap for Avaya's Next-Generation Emergency Services solutions while providing thought leadership to the industry. He represents Avaya on the NENA Institute Board, and was recently appointed to the FCC Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture and the FCC Disabilities Advisory Committee, where new ideas and innovations for urgent response and community engagement are brought together to deliver a smarter and safer environment.

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