New EOC to be headquartered in Huntsville, offer companies help in crisis

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A new emergency operations center is coming to Huntsville.

This one will be dedicated to helping companies stay in touch with employees during crisis events.

It's the result of a contract with the Defense Industrial Base Information Sharing and Analysis Center (DIB ISAC).

DIB ISAC was chosen for the Department of Homeland Security contract out of a field of 45 candidates. It's administered through a partnership with the National Institute of Hometown Security.

Candidates were invited to submit ideas for technologies or research that would fill a gap in "cyber or physical security, first responder needs, or other infrastructure capabilities."

For DIB ISAC Executive Director Steve Lines one gap, pertaining to business continuity plans, was obvious.

"One of the things we recognize is that we need to be able to have a way for people to let us know when they're in trouble," Lines says.

Under DIB ISAC's plan, companies will sign up for the communication service, which will rely on mobile location-based technology.

Employees will opt in, providing their address.  For privacy protection, all employee information will appear as numbers or code.

In the event of a crisis, such as a shooting or tornado outbreak, the employee will activate their smartphone app.

DIB ISAC's Emergency Operations Center will identify the employee's location and  be able to tell whether he or she is in direct danger, relaying that information to the employer. On the employer's end, the employee information will be seen as names, rather than numbers.

Through the system, DIB ISAC can also ensure the employee receives any help or direction needed.

The system will also be available to first responders, providing them critical information in the field.

There are applications for school systems, as well. Lines says a couple of school districts in other parts of the country are already using the technology for the purpose of tracking students in case of emergency.

DIB ISAC expects to have the new emergency operations center up and running within a year.