Boston Dashboard to Help Coordinate Large-Scale Events

Though the operations monitoring dashboard's soft launch took place the morning of the marathon, emergency personnel and law enforcement couldn't access the system.

by / April 22, 2013

According to Information Week, Boston's Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events was testing a new IBM operations dashboard last Monday, April 15 -- the day of the Boston Marathon.

From the Boston call center, CIO Bill Oates and staff members were gathered, keeping an eye on the marathon route and a two-block perimeter. Oates told Information Week the morning of the marathon that they were on hand to get a feel for the dashboard system's capabilities in order to evaluate its potential for event coordination.

On marathon day, the dashboard was not available to law enforcement and emergency response personnel in their trailers near the event finish line, the site of the two explosions that killed three and injured more than 100. Boston officials do plan on adding 911 data and possibly video surveillance feeds to the dashboard in the future, however.

In the wake of the bombings, the post-event evaluation of the dashboard system will likely become even more important. City officials have not yet commented on whether the system supplied any information directly relevant to the investigation.

In 2010, the Boston Police Department opened a crime center that receives dozens of surveillance video feeds from cameras positioned throughout the city. Despite persistent concerns about privacy, the Information Week Government's Future Cities Survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of municipal-level IT professionals believe that cameras, motion sensors and other public safety devices have significant potential "for improving city operations and performance."

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