05:47 PM

Cincinnati Gets Nod As Homeland Security's Regional Tech Center

Cincinnati and three to-be-named cities will get $10 million to invest in emergency preparedness and public-safety concepts.

In the years since 9/11, the federal government has encouraged local communities to serve as its eyes and ears in an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks. The Homeland Security Department on Monday kicked off its latest plan to support the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency responders by designating Cincinnati as the initial site for its Regional Technology Integration program.

As part of the program, Cincinnati and three other yet-to-be-named cities will receive $10 million to invest in what Homeland Security calls "advanced and innovative" concepts for emergency preparedness and public safety.

The purpose of the funding is to help these cities investigate private-sector technology that can quickly make an impact on efforts to combat terrorism and neutralize biological or chemical attacks, says a Homeland Security Department spokesman. "The goal here is not for the cities to develop the technologies themselves but to look to technology already being developed by industry," he says. Researchers and scientists will then conduct internal research regarding the effectiveness of technology available and issue reports that can be disseminated to other cities for their own homeland security programs.

Cincinnati will invest $500,000 to renovate a building in its Knob Hill neighborhood that will serve as a command center in the event of terrorist attack, according to a report Monday in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Homeland Security chose Cincinnati as the initial pilot site for the program for several reasons. The city already participates in the department's Urban Area Security Initiative, a program through which Homeland Security last year alone made about $4 billion available to 30 urban areas in the United States to help them protect critical infrastructure, ports, and mass transit against terrorist attacks. Cincinnati, which in fiscal 2003 received nearly $8 million through the Urban Area Security Initiative, is already home to the National Homeland Security Research Center. The center was created in late 2002 to coordinate different research efforts, including the development of ways to clean contaminated buildings, protect drinking water supplies, and improve risk-assessment techniques.

The department's goal in choosing Cincinnati and the other three Regional Technology Integration pilot sites is to create prototype technology that can be used in other cities with similar characteristics.

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