Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Gwinnett Police Share Information Over Web

Gwinnett County is joining a web-based information sharing system with other government agencies in the metropolitan Atlanta region. The Public Information Emergency Reporting (PIER) system is already being used by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) to coordinate drought responses by various agencies in the state.

In the past, emergency response plans have called for setting up a temporary information center where affected agencies share information and coordinate public information news releases, recommendations and evacuation orders. Now, the PIER system allows information sharing from any computer connected to the Internet.

Maj. Alan Doss, Gwinnett’s Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Gwinnett Communications Director Joe Sorenson served on a multi-jurisdictional committee to make PIER a regional system for the metro area last year. PIER will now be accessible to public information officers throughout Gwinnett’s various agencies, and it can be used to develop regional messages in times of disaster.

Doss said, “Funding for the program has come from federal grants so far, but Gwinnett commissioners on Tuesday approved a Memorandum of Understanding that details payment plans in case grant funding becomes unavailable.” Each jurisdiction could owe a payment of $4,625 in 2010 based on the current number of users. Those payments would cover web hosting, upgrades and technical support if grants are not extended.

“This system eliminates the time and expense of people having to travel during an emergency in order to coordinate public information,” said Police Chief Charles Walters.

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