Lab helps cities prep for terror

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Public Technology Inc. are partnering in an initiative to enhance local governments' ability to monitor, detect and report chemical and biological releases in the atmosphere.

The multiyear initiative called LINC — which stands for the Local Integration of the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center with Cities — will help local agencies prepare for and respond to urban terrorist attacks involving chemicals and biological weapons.

Livermore, (www.llnl.gov) an Energy Department laboratory based in California, began preparations with Seattle about four to five weeks ago in a pilot program, said Donald Ermak, the national laboratory's Atmospheric Release Assessment Programs leader.

The laboratory is assessing the capabilities of Seattle's fire department, emergency operations center, hazardous material units and mobile command centers. Based on that assessment, the laboratory will provide the city with Web-based tools and databases that map and predict the probable spread of hazardous material at multiple sites.

"We want to wed what we have with what they already have," Ermak said, adding that it will take about six months to fully implement the system in Seattle.

After this initial phase, Ermak said the national laboratory would identify regions where the system could support multiple jurisdictions. The third phase would involve incorporating the federal and state governments.

The project began about 18 months ago when representatives from Public Technology Inc. ({http://www.pti.org} www.pti.org) — the technology arm of the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the International City/County Management Association — visited Livermore to see what technologies could be used in municipalities, Ermak said.

Ermak and several other Energy officials presented LINC and other emerging technologies at PTI's annual conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week.

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