August 24, 2005
With the prospect of a large scale terrorist attacks in the United States, government planners have been taking a close look at how the response would actually work. The biggest problem appears to be coordinating the many local, state and federal agencies available to help out. The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has focused on the basic problem of communication. After evaluating over a hundred different technologies they decided that ICRI (Incident Commander's Radio Interface devices) would enable organizations, using different equipment and frequencies, to communicate with each other via an Internet based system. Everyone sends their audio feed into ICRI, and everyone with ICRI and access, can hear that feed. MI2 (Multi-level-secure Information Infrastructure middleware software) did the same thing for passing data back and forth. But the system that most impressed DHS was WMD COP (Weapons of Mass Destruction Common Operational Picture), which took all sorts of data about a rapidly developing, and chaotic terrorist situation, and enabled users to quickly sort it all out.
Unfortunately, this stuff is expensive. The cheapest of the three, ICRI, costs $10,000 per unit. There are thousands of local, state and federal organizations that could use this equipment, but getting it paid for and distributed will likely only happen in a piecemeal fashion. For those who have it, when there is a major terrorist attack, it will make a difference. For those without these tools, their job will be a lot more time-consuming and difficult.