New York Unveils New Emergency Management Headquarters

New York has a new, $50 million, state-of-the-art headquarters for its Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph Bruno earlier this month officially opened the new center at 165 Cadman Plaza East in downtown Brooklyn. The facility - which was funded by the federal government - serves as the central point of coordination for major emergencies and special events, as well as the day-to-day workspace for OEM planning and response personnel. Staffed 24-hours a day, the 65,000-square-foot building contains a 130-agency EOC, Watch Command, general office space and training and conference rooms.

"OEM plays an important role in ensuring coordination of city agencies during an emergency," said Bloomberg. "This state-of-the-art facility will help make communication between agencies more seamless so that during an emergency, city resources are easily marshaled and dispatched to areas that need help."

Bruno noted the EOC will help his agency accomplish its mission to plan and prepare for any emergency that may strike the city. "New York City is at the forefront of emergency management planning and this new facility will continue to move us forward."

A State of the Art Facility

The upgraded, technologically advanced Watch Command contains several workstations, a citywide warning desk, full audio and video recording capabilities, a 15-foot video wall and state-of-the-art communications tools. Operating around the clock, Watch Command works with field responders and serves as the central notification point for federal, state and local agencies during emergencies. Watch Command personnel maintain direct communication with surrounding jurisdictions and the New York State Emergency Management Office, as well as monitor radio frequencies and dispatch systems for the New York City Police and Fire Departments, and 911 calls. Newscasts from cable and satellite TV are constantly monitored to stay aware of what is being reported locally, nationally and internationally. Additionally, Watch Command tracks New York City weather conditions through the National Weather Service and disseminates related hazard information to City agencies.

The OEM EOC also will be able to leverage the future benefits of the Citywide Public Safety Wireless Network, which will provide real-time links to city, state and federal agencies, bolster situational awareness and foster resource coordination in case of a large-scale disaster.

Activated during large-scale emergencies or special events, the EOC serves as a central location for senior officials from city, state and federal agencies, non-profit entities and private sector partners to coordinate response efforts and disseminate information. Past activations of the EOC include Sept. 11, 2001, the 2003 blackout, the 2004 Republican National Convention, the 2005 transit strike and the 2006 Queens power outages.

The new EOC contains workstations for 130 agencies, video conferencing capabilities, secure communications equipment, several large video displays and dedicated space for Geographical Information Systems functions. Located nearby is space for a Joint Information Center, where information is gathered from the EOC for dissemination to the public during an emergency.

The four-story building contains the most advanced technology and features available for OEM's emergency response and planning personnel. Nine conference rooms facilitate interagency training and coordination. Redundant electromechanical systems ensure continuous operation during a power outage. A fully equipped media briefing room leverages the resources of the city's Emergency Alert System and provides a venue for instantaneously transmitting emergency information to the public.

The facility will serve as a hub for implementation of the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS). The new OEM EOC will allow senior-level city officials to manage emergencies and special events utilizing the CIMS, as well as incident specific emergency plans like the recently updated Coastal Storm Plan (CSP) or Heat Contingency Plan. CIMS, in accordance with the federal Incident Command Structure, defines how citywide emergencies or multiple large-scale incidents will be managed by specifying agency roles and responsibilities. Additionally, it establishes a means of integrating regional, state, and federal agencies into an emergency response. The revised CSP is the result of more than 9 months of intense review and planning by OEM and various city, state, federal, non-profit and private sector partners. It includes a dramatic increase in the number of hurricane shelters and incorporates lessons learned from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and other 2005 storms. The Citywide Heat Contingency Plan contains measures to provide relief and ensure the continued delivery of essential services for those most at-risk during periods of extreme heat.

And It's 'Green' Too

OEM's new facility features several environmentally responsible design elements to make it the city's first "green" agency headquarters - a status for which it will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

It was built using several environmentally conscious methods focused in the areas of sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor air quality. Some of the building's green features include columns and floors reused from the previous occupant, heat-reflecting roof tiles made from recycled material, environmentally safe indoor building materials, water-saving devices and thermal-control windows, among many other features.

The building represents the first permanent home for OEM since its previous headquarters and the city's EOC were destroyed on Sept. 11. Since that time, interim space was utilized at Pier 92 on Manhattan's west side and 11 Water Street in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn.

The funding to build the facility was part of the $20 billion provided to New York City in the weeks after Sept. 11.

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