same business processes and philosophies was not easy. "We have union and nonunion folks, different work ethics, different work rules, etc. We really had to massage them to form a cohesive team," said Freeman.

Today, the new operations center is nearly complete. The EOC is finishing its transition between the old facility and the new one, and is currently about 80 percent done. Freeman said it will probably take another year or so to master all the new technology and complete technology training for all the county's disaster specialists.

But Freeman believes that the next time Montgomery County responds to an emergency, the technology he and his team have at their fingertips will allow them to respond in a faster, more efficient and more effective manner.

"This system is about providing knowledge," said Microsoft's Byrne. "Knowledge is a powerful tool, and it allows you to be much safer and more effective. Not only do you save lives, but you also save scarce government resources and wear and tear on the responders themselves because you are able to make better decisions."

Justine Brown  |  Contributing Writer