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Monday, January 15, 2007
Is the Homeland Secure Enough for the 'Games'?
Below is the unedited version of an editorial I authored that was published by Crain's Chicago Business today. The edited version can be found here. The editorial came down in light of the USOC deciding that it would put forth a US bid (either LA or Chicago) to compete with Doha, Madrid, Istanbul, Rio, and Tokyo, on the international stage for the 2016 Games. The USOC's decision came just days after the Department of Homeland Security released its report of tactical interoperable communications ratings among and between American metropolitan areas. The report is interesting, both in terms of the ratings systems and the relative communications preparedness of different cities. A number of cities, including Chicago, have responded that Homeland Security gave no warning of what the findings would be and that encouragement of the efforts undertaken thus far by American cities is contrary to the written report.
Could Chicago’s Low Disaster Readiness Score Endanger the Chances for the 2016 Games?
Both the USOC and the IOC indicated that political stability to see the long preparation for an Olympic games through from bid acceptance to closing ceremony is an important criterion, and with Mayor Daley’s most serious challenger in Rep. Jackson dropping out of the next mayoral contest to enjoy the fruits of the new Democratic Congress, Chicago appears to be stronger on local government stability.
However, Homeland Security’s release of its “Tactical Interoperable Communications Scorecards Summary Report and Findings” on Wednesday may have added a new obstacle to Chicago’s bid as the USOC pits the Windy City’s bid against Los Angeles.
In light of the poor communication between first responders in the Twin Towers on 9/11 that may have led to the unnecessary death of many NYC firefighters unable to hear NYPD communications to evacuate, Homeland Security sought to assess the interoperable communications between various groups, namely police and fire. The aforementioned report grades urban/metropolitan areas on Governance, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and Usage.
As Olympic officials are very familiar with security issues, from Munich to Atlanta, tactical interoperable communications may be a factor in choosing a location. The scores in the three categories range from early to advanced implementation.
The current score for Chicago: Governance (early implementation), SOPs (intermediate implementation), and Usage (intermediate implementation).
The current score for Los Angeles: Governance (established implementation), SOPs (advanced implementation), and Usage (advanced implementation).
The USOC should keep in mind that the Chicago Urban Area includes the City, Cook County, and 128 municipalities, while the Los Angeles/Long Beach Urban Area includes only 26 municipalities and LA County. Such a disparity in the amount of independent departments that require cooperative communication between each other surely explains part of the disparity between the communications scorecards, but the message from Homeland Security is clear: do better.