©1999 - 2012
Edward D. Reuss
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The horror of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech University http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Tech_shooting has faded from the headlines and the attention of the media has moved on to other newsworthy incidents.   Since there won’t be a public trial of the mass murderer of innocent faculty members and students on the campus of a great American institution of learning,  we will not have our attention riveted on every legal move made on behalf of the killer.  Our legal eagles won’t get the opportunity to have their faces on the evening news broadcasts ad nauseamVirginia Tech will take its place on the list of others such as the Columbine High School Massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre and the Beltway Sniper Attacks of 2002. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltway_sniper_attacks  

Just what has been done since the Virginia Tech University killings? It would seem that the main emphasis has been placed on the availability of firearms.  The anti-gun advocates would have us believe that if only we could rid our society of firarms would we then stop these incidents from occurring.   I wonder what the police in Glasgow, Scotland would have to say about that theory?   If only we could rid ourselves of those propane tanks that we use in our backyard parties? 


What can we do to prevent a repetition of these types of mass killings?  Would it have helped if we had a communications tool in place to quickly notify those who may be victims of such attacks? The sad answer is that we do.  We have had such a tool available for quite some time.  Technology exists that would enable those in emergency management and law enforcement to notify those who reside or work in an area that may be effected by the threat of fire, in -progress criminal actions, lost or missing persons, and yes, terrorist activity.    The same technology can be used to mobilize those who are needed to cope with emergencies, or to advise the population of threats to their health and welfare. These notifications would be made in real time.  The uses of this technology is only limited by the imagination of those who are charged with our public safety.  This technology has been developed by a number of private firms.  One of the most successful of these firms is Sigma Communications of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Their software and technology is called Reverse 911. www.reverse911.com  

In our workplaces and homes, we have the tools at our fingertips that enables us to communicate in real time with our fellow citizens.  Cell phones, pagers, and our personal computers with email and instant messaging, is the information highway that can provide us with the key element required to deal with terrorism.   The technology that Sigma Communicatons has developed enables emergency managers and police to create a database with the cell phone, landline phone, pagers, and IM messaging as well as emails of those who are located in geographic areas. The system is GIS enabled and has the capacity to send out mass calls to any database that would be effected by an emergency or incident involving mass casualties or mass effect. 

The ramifications ot this technology has far-reaching potential in dealing with terrorism and pubic safety.  Imagine if this technology had been in place during the Virginia Tech killings. If every student and teacher had their cell phone, pager, and PC in the database of a system such as Reverse 911,  the police who responded to the first shooting incident in West Ambler Johnson Hall shortly after 7 AM would have been able to activate an immediate warning and notification to the entire campus of the threat of a killer who had shot and killed two students and had not been apprehended on their campus.

Two hours elapsed before the killer, Seung Hui-Cho, was able to chain doors in Norris Hall, and proceeded to kill faculty members and students in that building.   Thirty more people were killed in that building as well as many more wounded.  The explanations given by the University and law enforcement officials relative to that two hour period remains a sore point to those who have lost their loved ones.

Reverse 911 has the capability of making such timely notifications. A visit to their website reveals examples of how those in emergency management and law enforcement have used Reverse 911 in their communities. Visit  WWW.REVERSE911.COM to read about this technology. There is no time to delay in implementing systems such as Reverse 911 in our cities.   

The events in Great Britain has illustrated the need for CCTV in our public places as well. I have written a piece about the need for this technology here in America.  The NYPD in New York City has been active in this area also.   We must not allow well meaning civil libertarians to delay in the use of CCTV in our cities.  The use of Reverse 911 is just a modern version of a call to arms.    

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has led the way in these areas.  CCTV has been expanded here in NYC. The newly formed Retiree Mobilization Plan (RMP) is an example of his leadership.  Those NYPD retirees have been receiving training in the Incident Command System and NIMS.  Their names and experience on the NYPD has been entered into a database which is used to rapidly mobilize them for duty in connection with any large scale Incident of Mass Casualties or Terrorism.    Rapid Mobilization of those volunteers and notifications to citizens effected by any large scale incident is a crucial element.   Reverse911 is an outstanding example of the technology that is available now. Perhaps the City of New York will adopt this cutting edge technology?





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