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Chicago increases safety through partnerships, federal grants

FEMA officials tour the Chicago Office of Emergency Communications.

Chicago, IL, January 25, 2011 -- Assistant Administrator William Carwile (left), Region IX Administrator, Nancy Ward (center), Region V Administrator, Andrew Velasquez III (back), FEMA Deputy Administrator, Richard Serino, and FEMA Director of Regional Operations, Patty Kalla (right), tour Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Last week, before the snow started to fall, I had the opportunity to tour Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) with FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, Assistant Administrator William Carwile, FEMA Region IV Administrator Major Phillip May, and Region IX Administrator Nancy Ward.

Our tour gave us a first-hand look at Homeland Security grant dollars in action. To date, the city has received over $281 million in grants, investing in state of the art technologies to better prepare the city and those that live here. Chicago has been working with federal, state, and local partners to leverage the grant awards for maximum impact in the community.

During the visit, we had a chance to see the city’s integrated camera network, one of the largest of its kind in the nation. The city has not only installed thousands of cameras, but they have also integrated existing surveillance cameras from several city departments, as well as those from the private sector. This collaboration between the public and private sectors provides first responders, as well as state and federal emergency management officials, with critical situational awareness during emergency situations.

The city also showed us their investments in geospatial information systems (GIS) technologies. They’ve incorporated critical infrastructure information and other data layers into their GIS systems, which provides the city and its partners with a platform for more efficient and effective emergency planning.

Overall, our group of FEMA officials were impressed with the OEMC’s emphasis on bringing together multiple public safety disciplines and partner agencies to achieve the common goal of better protecting the city. Chicago is a great example of leveraging grant dollars and partnerships to strengthen its emergency response capabilities.

Chicago's OEMC is one example of federal grant dollars making a difference at the local level. Leave a comment and let us know your ideas on using federal grants to make an impact on our nation’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

- Andrew

Last Updated: 
06/19/2012 - 18:40

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