The city unveiled a permanent home for its emergency command center yesterday, five years after it was destroyed in the World Trade Center attacks.
The $50 million, four-story building in downtown Brooklyn represents a major technological upgrade for the city and comes months after the city unveiled a new high-tech Fire Department command center.
The 65,000-square-foot space can house up to 130 agencies and utilities. In the event of a power outage, terrorist attack, or some other disaster, they would be able to communicate with each other more easily.
"Even when times are good, it's the planning that goes on in a building like this that lets us respond in the most efficient way and the best way," Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday before touring the facility. "The Office of Emergency Management is one of those agencies that you hope they don't have a lot to do, but you're awfully glad that they work very hard getting ready in case they do."
On September 11, 2001, the city's emergency bunker was destroyed when the twin towers collapsed and took down the neighboring building 7 World Trade Center, which housed the city's command center. Emergency operations have since bounced from Pier 92 on Manhattan's West Side to a temporary space in Brooklyn.
The new facility is equipped with flat screen monitors, full audio and video recording capabilities, a 15-foot video wall, and access to local dispatches for the police and fire departments. As Mr. Bloomberg toured the site with the police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, and fire commissioner, Nicholas Scoppetta, satellite images tracking everything from weather forecasts to air traffic control fed into the Watch Command.
"We're monitoring everything," the deputy director of the Watch Command, Mark Clampet, said.
The city was criticized for communication meltdowns during the response to the World Trade Center disaster. The new facility and other city upgrades are designed to ensure that coordination would be better during any future large-scale emergencies.
The building — housed in a gutted Red Cross site — is also the first environmentally "green" city headquarters and is designed to conserve energy through a host of ways, including heat-reflecting roof tiles and water conservation.
It is expected to earn a silver designation for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council. It is one of about 20 buildings the city is trying to get LEEDS certified.
Mr. Bloomberg, who slept at OEM's temporary headquarters during the transit strike last December, said the new facility has cots if he and others have to spend the night again. The city has a backup emergency center in an undisclosed location.