Urban Shield

Results and Benefits

  • Improves Business Continuity
  • Improves workflow
  • Enhances Communication

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Urban Shield Suits Up with Polycom RealPresence Solutions

Preparing for an emergency is important in today’s busy world. Nature’s large-scale storms and local security concerns are inevitable. What’s often not clear is the best way to convey information during catastrophes. What are the best communication solutions? How can your team correspond quickly and effectively when chaos arrives?

In Dublin, California, Sheriff Greg Ahern of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is working to ensure the world has a plan. In 2007, the same year he took his title, Sheriff Ahern founded community readiness program Urban Shield. Urban Shield trains first responders to protect communities from natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Emergencies like oil spills, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and 1991 Oakland firestorm have threatened the security of the Bay Area. Sheriff Ahern knew proper training and adequate solutions were needed to set the global standard for emergency response.

The plan included a number of Polycom RealPresence solutions, which Urban Shield used to communicate with participating response teams during the event. The event needed coordination between five different counties in the Bay Area, and included a tactical team at the Alameda office as well as stationary and on-site medical teams. It was a large-scale event that required a reliable secure way to relay information. “Video conferencing to pass on information is one of the most important ways of getting everybody to remain on the same page, sharing that same information,” said Sheriff Ahern.

The command teams and medical teams each used Polycom solutions to relay information in real time. Polycom EagleEye Director streamed activity at the Command Center, where leaders and participants saw live feeds of 35 individual events across 10 operational Area Commands. Area commanders checked in using tablets every three hours during the 72-hour event. Simultaneously, four different doctors were constantly on call to give medical advice over mobile collaboration solutions.

The Urban Shield exercises exemplified business continuity in emergency response, and always staying one step ahead. It’s always better to be over prepared, and cloud services can help by providing a reliable, survivable off-site solution to data access and security and communications continuity.

In a disaster, quick correspondence is important. Emergency Response teams need intuitive, easy-to-use video technology to communicate information immediately. “It’s very important to have equipment that doesn’t take a great deal of training so that we can pass it on to whoever is responsible for that assignment,” said Sheriff Ahern. “With Polycom it was very simple: push a button, and be able to talk. Push a button, and you’re on mute. And you can pass on that training in a matter of seconds.”

The San Francisco Bay Area and global Urban Shield participants are now better prepared to respond to any type of natural disaster or catastrophic event. It is important that other areas throughout the world consider how they can utilize Polycom technology like RealPresence solutions to prepare for major disasters, whether for planning, training, exercise or response.

“Polycom was very effective in giving us the type of tools we needed. It was simple to use, and it was very easy to connect, and those are very important in any type of emergency situation,” said Sheriff Ahern. “The technology is reliable, and dependable. “