A cruise ship pier may seem an unlikely spot to serve as the ad hoc nerve center of emergency command and control. But New York chose just such a site and for a number of reasons.
The city moved its Office of Emergency Management to Pier 92 and its Family Assistance Center to the adjacent Pier 94 on Manhattans West Side within days of the World Trade Center catastrophe of Sept. 11. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, meanwhile, set up shop on nearby Pier 90.
But why the piers? For starters, theyre easy to isolate for security purposes. There is little pedestrian traffic along 12th Avenue, and no stores or businesses are adjacent. Since half the buildings face the water, armed police patrol boats can cruise along the Hudson River for extra protection.
Such additional security options also make it easier to welcome dignitaries and celebrities, according to David Shatzkes, vice president of delivery for government services with Computer Horizons Corp., in New York. Computer Horizons handles IT infrastructure for the OEM and set up the network at the piers.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, French President Jacques Chirac, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have all paid visits to the OEM since it was moved to Pier 92. Actress Candice Bergen, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets have also been to the pier, Shatzkes said.
The fact that the piers are sometimes used to host trade shows is another plus. They are well-served by a plethora of electrical outlets, and theres carpeting in storage that can be laid down for the emergency staff. In fact, the bundle of cables that snake their way through the rafters of the facility look like nothing so much as the show network at the NetWorld+Interop trade show.