IEMA announces two public-private initiatives to enhance public safety

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                      Two new public-private initiatives

                     announced today by the Illinois Emergency Management

                     Agency (IEMA) will strengthen coordination between

                     the state and the private sector before, during and

                     after disasters.  A new Business Emergency Operations

                     Center (BEOC) will enhance communications between the

                     private sector and state emergency management

                     personnel to improve response and recovery efforts

                     for major disasters.  In addition, a rail security

                     agreement with CSX will provide the state with access

                     to critical real-time information about rail

                     operations to aid in law enforcement and homeland

                     security efforts.

                     “These collaborations with the private sector will

                     enable us to more effectively respond to emergencies

                     and protect the citizens of Illinois,” said IEMA

                     Director Jonathon Monken.  “The Business Emergency

                     Operations Center will help us tap into the

                     situational awareness, communications capabilities

                     and other valuable resources of the private sector to

                     help communities recover from the impact of an event

                     more quickly.  And the CSX partnership is a model for

                     a collaborative public-private security initiative

                     that we hope to replicate with other industries to

                     better serve our communities.”

                     Representatives from 50 companies and associations in

                     Illinois were on hand for the formal unveiling of the

                     Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) Wednesday

                     at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in

                     Springfield.  The BEOC will offer a physical location

                     where representatives from 15 sectors of the private

                     sector can report following a major disaster.

                     The site, located in the SEOC in Springfield, will be

                     just steps away from the State Incident Response

                     Center (SIRC), where IEMA coordinates response to

                     disasters with representatives from state and federal

                     agencies and other key organizations.

                     Monken said the purpose of the BEOC is not for

                     obtaining goods and services, but rather for

                     harnessing information available through the private

                     sector and coordinating it with response and recovery

                     actions developed in the SEOC.

                     “During emergencies, the public and private sectors

                     need to rely on each other, and the Business

                     Emergency Operations Center will provide the

                     opportunity for us to grow those important

                     relationships,” said Mike Marx, managing supervisor,

                     distribution operating support for Ameren Illinois.

                     “Now when a disaster happens, these relationships

                     will already be established and, as a result, the

                     overall response will be even better.”

                     Sectors that will be represented in the BEOC include:

                     agriculture and food; retail; energy; information

                     technology; postal and shipping; bank and finance;

                     communications, transportation systems; chemical;

                     manufacturing; healthcare and public health, water;

                     security; small business; and service industry.

                     The BEOC will be activated for the first time during

                     the state’s earthquake exercise Nov. 15-17.

                     The partnership between CSX and IEMA, known as

                     SecureNOW, provides security officials with access to

                     CSX’s Network Operations Workstation (NOW) system.

                     This secure online system, developed and used by CSX,

                     allows security and law enforcement officials to

                     independently track the location of CSX trains and

                     the contents of rail cars in a nearly real-time

                     environment.

                     In addition to providing access to the NOW system,

                     CSX works with law enforcement officials on joint

                     rail security training and preparedness exercises,

                     and provides around-the-clock access to CSX rail

                     security professionals.

                     “This partnership allows CSX and state officials to

                     effectively and seamlessly share information and work

                     side by side to safeguard the communities and

                     customers that we serve,” said Skip Elliott, CSX Vice

                     President of Public Safety and Environment.

                     CSX has SecureNOW partnerships with several other

                     states it serves.