Cities Start Web-Based Homeland Security System

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A coalition of city governments will start an Internet-based homeland security initiative in Kansas City to help emergency workers better respond to terrorism or natural disasters. The computer system, operated by the Mid-American Regional Council (MARC) of governments, will connect more than 100 government agencies across eight counties and two states in the Kansas City metropolitan area, reports

The system, expected to launch early next year, will allow emergency personnel from different cities in Kansas and Missouri to share information and coordinate efforts during a disaster. Officials believe Kansas City's Metropolitan Emergency Information System (MEIS) to be the first of its kind in the United States. If the system works as planned, its designers hope to license it in other areas and plan to set aside a percentage of the revenues to a local victims' relief fund.

Improving communication across jurisdictional and state lines has been a priority for state and local governments since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The federal government has given states nearly $4 billion for homeland security, 80 percent of which has been directed to local governments to better equip emergency first responders and to improve communication and information sharing.

The system will connect government agencies such as fire departments, law enforcement agencies and emergency management offices and will be administered by MARC. Private institutions such as hospitals, ambulance services and relief organizations will be offered access. After a terrorist attack, emergency responders in different areas would look at the same emergency response plan. The system would track emergency responders as they go in and out of a scene using a bar code and scanner system that is currently being developed. Elected officials, hospitals, and federal agencies could monitor the situation or direct emergency workers.

The system is expected to be up and running at a total cost of nearly $1 million. Once it's operational, the cost of joining the network is expected to be less than $200 per organization.


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