Alert system lets local officials track array of emergencies and threats

Wed, 2014-05-28 06:00 -- Doug Cooley

Let’s say a caustic gas leak occurs in an office building when a contractor inadvertently cuts the wrong pipe in the ventilation system.  A 911 call is placed and the city’s first responders quickly show up on the scene.

But how can the city ensure that the principal at a nearby elementary school is immediately notified of the problem? Or the emergency room personnel at the local hospital?

Swan Island Networks is providing one answer with its Trusted Information Exchange Service (TIES) for Microsoft CityNext, the smart city platform developed by SCC Global Partner Microsoft. To help city and regional governments better share emergency data, the cloud-based service gathers and consolidates the latest information about severe weather, road closures, health threats, electricity outages and even cyber attacks, according to a recent GCN piece. 

The TIES for Microsoft CityNext dashboard can be configured to support various city functions.

Initially created for intelligence sharing in the federal government, TIES examines real-time data from social media, 911 centers, weather service bulletins, GPS locators and other sources. The various types of data are then filtered according to the user’s preferences and displayed on a dashboard. The system can also send out alerts via email, texts or phone calls.

The TIES system, for example, might be used to notify a school principal about the location and activities of gang members near the school.  Or a city transportation officials about the approach of a severe storm.

TIES relies on the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), a digital format that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses for exchanging emergency alerts in a variety of forms over a variety of pubic warning systems. TIES lets users customize CAP attribute settings so they can monitor only the messages they want to receive.