Emergency Managers Warned of Terror Risk

GIS technology helps Georgia city control mosquitoes.

by News Staff / December 31, 2008

U.S. Not Respectful of Terrorism Risk

Kansas City, Kan. - The U.S. has become complacent since 9/11 and lacks a healthy respect for the risk of terrorism, according to Gordon Graham, at the 56th International Association of Emergency Managers Conference on Nov. 18, 2008.

Graham, a 33-year veteran of law enforcement, an attorney and an internationally recognized authority on risk management, cited recent attempts by homegrown al Qaeda cells. One group aimed to kill members of the U.S. military at Fort Dix, N.J., by way of pizza delivery. Another group had job applications for police departments in Oakland, Calif., and Philadelphia.

"You [must] have a healthy respect for the dangers you face," Graham said. "We're not respectful of risk; we've fallen into complacency with regard to terrorism."

Graham suggested testing employees daily. He said employees should know their critical roles before a disaster. "When a disaster occurs, most don't know [their core roles] until after the fact," he said. "Training has to be constant and rigorous. Every day is a training day."

- Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor


GIS Tracks West Nile Virus

Valdosta, Ga. - Mayors and other local officials learned how to eradicate mosquitoes and track West Nile virus during a session at the 2008 Congress of Cities and Exposition in November. John Whitehead, Valdosta deputy city manager of operations, was on hand to discuss the city's Mosquito Population Control Program.

The program records data from about 35 mosquito traps within city limits. Students from Valdosta State University collect the mosquitoes each week to count, type and test them for West Nile virus. The data is then entered into a GIS tool that directs Whitehead where to spray for mosquitoes.

The entire city used to be sprayed until 2001 when a local child contracted the virus, which drove the creation of the GIS tool. Now, spraying only targeted areas saves the city roughly $70,000 annually. The GIS and spraying program currently costs $30,000 per year. Reductions in labor, overtime pay, and chemical and vehicle expenses produced the savings, said Whitehead.

- Andy Opsahl, Features Editor


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