By Stan Welch
The recent decision by the Anderson County Council to purchase Ipads for those of its members who want them has been questioned by some, but the wireless electronic devices are clearly the wave of the future.
The approximate $8000 cost for the devices, which will allow those who prefer their information in a digital form to receive it that way, will be covered by a grant from Duke Energy, a circumstance that gives a very strong endorsement of the devices’ capabilities. While the Council members will be able to receive pertinent County information as well as e-mails on the device, its real value lies in the fact that Ipads are becoming the industry standard for emergency management applications.
This past August, a federal level exercise was conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to test a new mapping and modeling software called the Standard Unified Modeling Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT).
Its purpose and function is to allow first responders to input information about a given area affected by a disaster and be able to project what conditions and circumstances they are likely to encounter before they enter the area.
Also, once on the ground, SUMMIT would allow the first responders to send back visual and other details about the conditions on the ground to those in command centers elsewhere, to be used in coordinating and planning further responses.
An expert in such emergency management technology, who consults with various agencies and government organizations, including Anderson County, told The Journal “That is why Duke Energy is footing the bill, not so Council members can get their e-mails. That’s just icing on the cake. While the Council members aren’t directly involved in emergency management, thank heavens, doesn’t it make sense to be able to share information with them quickly and accurately, at a time when every minute counts?”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added, “Oconee and Pickens counties would be immediately affected if a problem arose at the Oconee Nuclear Station. But Anderson and Greenville Counties are host counties, which means that is where tens of thousands of people would be sent during evacuations. They need to be closely and immediately linked into the emergency management grid. These Ipads would accomplish that.”
Figures compiled in the 2010 census reflected a growth rate of seventy four percent in the population within the ten mile radius of Oconee Power Station since the reactors were opened. In addition, Clemson University would also be affected, with tens of thousands of students potentially at risk and having to be relocated in a short time.
Ipads have proven themselves both in the command center and in the field. Internet reports show that Marine helicopter pilots began using the devices on their own several months ago to streamline the fire support process that Marines on the ground had to go through to call in air support.
They linked their personal Ipads to ground troops and cut an average of fifteen minutes from their response times. Marine brass has since purchased $20,000 worth of the devices to study their potential uses in combat.