Mayor Lee & Department of Emergency Management Announce Creation of Joint Powers Authority for Interoperable Communications
Also Highlight Citywide Accomplishments in Emergency Preparedness and Response on the Eve of 9/11Ten- Year Anniversary
9/7/11—As the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) today announced the creation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to govern a Bay Area-wide public safety communications system. The JPA, known as the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System (BayRICS) authority, will oversee regional voice and data communications networks for first responders throughout the Bay Area.
“When a major earthquake or disaster strikes next in the Bay Area, a regional, secure and dedicated communications network for our first responders will save lives, reduce damage and protect public health and safety,” said Mayor Lee. “I am proud that by working with other cities and public safety and law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay Area, we will be one of the nation’s first regions to deploy this innovative, emergency broadband communications network.”
“The establishment of the JPA represents a major step forward for the Bay Area, in regards to both interoperable communications and regional collaboration,” said DEM Executive Director Anne Kronenberg. “By building robust relationships within the region now, we will be in a stronger position in the event of a disaster. Because we all know that disasters don’t recognize the boundaries of any city or county.”
BayRICS was launched in 2007 by the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. It includes both a voice component and a wireless broadband data component that allows first responders to share multi-media applications such as text, graphics, and video. It will significantly enhance the capabilities of first responders, both during a major disaster and on a day-to-day basis. The system will also offer the reliability of a hardened, dedicated network that is less vulnerable to failing during a disaster.
The creation of the JPA marks the first time the Bay Area region has come together to govern the highly complex issue of interoperable communications. The JPA’s functions include the ability to authorize funding, set policy, and contract with vendors to construct the BayRICS project.
To date, the JPA consists of a Board of Directors from 13 jurisdictions: Alameda County, Marin County, Contra Costa County, City of Oakland, San Francisco County, San Francisco City, City of San Jose, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Sonoma County, South Bay Hub, East Bay Hub and the State of California. The South Bay and East Bay hubs are a conglomeration of smaller cities and unincorporated areas.
The JPA will have 19 members. San Francisco has two members on the JPA: a city representative appointed by the Mayor (DEM Director Anne Kronenberg) and a county representative appointed by the Board of Supervisors (San Francisco Police Department Chief Greg Suhr).
“The safety of those who live, work, and visit San Francisco remains our highest priority,” said SFPD Chief Suhr. “We firmly believe the security of our community is a shared responsibility and communication plays an important role. By enhancing our interoperability with local, state and federal public safety agencies, the San Francisco Police Department is able to effectively plan, prepare, and train to ensure our city remains safe against evolving threats, whether man-made or natural disasters.”
“As we reflect on the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we will never forget the lives of nearly 3,000 men and women who perished,” said San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White. “One of the most important ways to honor the memory of those innocent victims is to ensure preparedness and resiliency in our communities. Over the last decade, the City has collectively taken measures to be stronger in our preparedness, response and recovery efforts related to terrorist attacks or other disasters. SFFD continues to educate its citizens with the free Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) Program. In addition, SFFD has benefited greatly from specialized equipment acquired through Homeland Security Grant funding and has participated in Department of Emergency Management training and exercises, which has led to more streamlined operations between agencies and ultimately to the public we serve.”
San Francisco Makes Major Advances in Emergency Preparedness, Response over Past Decade
Mayor Lee also highlighted San Francisco’s major progress in the area of emergency response and preparedness during the past decade since 9/11.
Since 2004, the City has conducted approximately 100 disaster exercises with DEM leading these efforts. Additionally, approximately 250 discussion-based trainings and workshops citywide have been conducted with first responders and other key City agencies. Many of these trainings and exercises have been held in conjunction with non-governmental, faith-based and community-based organizations, businesses, and schools.
The City’s Outdoor Public Warning Siren system was revamped using homeland security funding. Today, there are 109 sirens with voice and tone capability located throughout the City. As part of the regular Tuesday noon test, recorded announcements in English are followed by announcements in Spanish or Cantonese on selected sirens.
DEM established AlertSF, a text-based message system that delivers emergency information to cell phones, PDA’s and other text-enabled devices, as well as email accounts. To date, approximately 16,500 people have signed up for AlertSF.
The City’s award-winning website, www.72hours.org, provides information on making family emergency plans, building disaster kits, and getting involved in training before a disaster occurs or volunteering to help out afterwards. The information is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese. In addition, DEM’s website www.quakequizsf.org tests knowledge of what to do if an earthquake strikes while at home, driving, on public transit, at the beach or at work. DEM also engages with the public via social media, at www.facebook.com/sfdem and www.twitter.com/sf_emergency.
San Francisco has enhanced preparedness throughout City departments, using homeland security grants to conduct planning, training and exercises as well as to purchase equipment. Since 2003, San Francisco and the Bay Area region have received approximately $322 million in homeland security grants.
Other major accomplishments in emergency management include:
· Renovating the City’s Emergency Operations Center, adding state-of-the-art technology and equipment.
· Reviving the Disaster Council and expanding it to include emergency management partners from the nonprofit community, labor, and business.
· Purchasing major emergency response equipment using homeland security grants, including field care clinics and care and shelter trailers.
· Earning the National Weather Service designations StormReady and TsunamiReady.