Upgraded Computer Network

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-09-06 Print this article Print

Other technological changes since Sept. 11, 2001, include the Broadband Modem VPN Project. This project upgraded the fire department's citywide computer network (from dial-up lines) by providing 565 fire and EMS locations with high-speed access to the FDNY computer network via broadband modem services from Time Warner, Verizon and Cable-vision. These locations now benefit from higher data transmission speeds systemwide, more flexible site deployment options, greater fault tolerance and improved performance of applications.

The FDNY's Bureau of Technology Development and Systems (BTDS) has implemented a distributed Network Operations Center (NOC) to monitor, model and manage the IT infrastructure departmentwide. This system discovers, collects data and reports on the "health" and trends of IT devices, networks, servers and applications. This permits the staff to proactively intercept problems and diagnose incidents.

Also implemented since 9/11 is the Electronic Firefighter Accountability System (EFAS), an application used to register mayday calls from distressed firefighters.

Once a distressed member depresses the emergency alert button on the handheld walkie-talkie, the EFAS displays the firefighter's name and assigned radio information, notifying those on the scene that a fellow firefighter needs assistance.

This application currently resides on the Division and Battalion Chiefs' Mobile Data Terminals (MDTs) located within their respective vehicles. However, portable EFAS units are in the process of being implemented.

The FDNY also implemented a BlackBerry Service Distribution project, which supplies mobile devices to key agency staff,
providing them with remote access to emails, files, notifications and the Internet. After deployment and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server was stabilized, the issuance of the physical devices was turned over to the Bureau of Communications, since it provides cellular device issuance. The BTDS continues the administration and support of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

In addition, the FDNY upgraded its intranet and Internet capabilities. The iterative design and development of the FDNY intranet allow its members to access safety and training materials, forms, and other critical information more effectively and with greater ease.

The site has evolved to accommodate the merger of fire and EMS services into a single unified department by streamlining the previous separate intranet "sites" within a single unified design paradigm utilizing "communities."

Along with the redesign, many new intranet communities were added. These include the Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness (CTDP) and the Security Awareness and Bureau of Training, which gives employees current information about training and safety protocols.

Additionally, many new Web-based applications were designed and engineered to better promote safety and disaster preparedness, according to Gribbon. These include an Events Calendar, Spare Handie-Talkie Tracking and Near Miss, to name a few.

The FDNY also made enhancements to its public Internet Website in order to provide New York City residents and businesses with content pertaining to fire safety education, disaster preparedness, news and events.

As Deputy Commissioner Gribbon stated earlier, the FDNY is "light-years away from where we were 10 years ago."

eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft can be reached at darryl.taft@eweek.com.


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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