SPRINGFIELD – Two new public-private initiatives announced today by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will strengthen coordination between the state and the private sector before, during and after disasters. A new Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) will enhance communications between the private sector and state emergency management personnel to improve response and recovery efforts for major disasters. In addition, a rail security agreement with CSX will provide the state with access to critical real-time information about rail operations to aid in law enforcement and homeland security efforts.
“These collaborations with the private sector will enable us to more effectively respond to emergencies and protect the citizens of Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “The Business Emergency Operations Center will help us tap into the situational awareness, communications capabilities and other valuable resources of the private sector to help communities recover from the impact of an event more quickly. And the CSX partnership is a model for a collaborative public-private security initiative that we hope to replicate with other industries to better serve our communities.”
Representatives from 50 companies and associations in Illinois were on hand for the formal unveiling of the Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) Wednesday at the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield. The BEOC will offer a physical location where representatives from 15 sectors of the private sector can report following a major disaster.
The site, located in the SEOC in Springfield, will be just steps away from the State Incident Response Center (SIRC), where IEMA coordinates response to disasters with representatives from state and federal agencies and other key organizations.
Monken said the purpose of the BEOC is not for obtaining goods and services, but rather for harnessing information available through the private sector and coordinating it with response and recovery actions developed in the SEOC.
“During emergencies, the public and private sectors need to rely on each other, and the Business Emergency Operations Center will provide the opportunity for us to grow those important relationships,” said Mike Marx, managing supervisor, distribution operating support for Ameren Illinois. “Now when a disaster happens, these relationships will already be established and, as a result, the overall response will be even better.”
Sectors that will be represented in the BEOC include: agriculture and food; retail; energy; information technology; postal and shipping; bank and finance; communications, transportation systems; chemical; manufacturing; healthcare and public health, water; security; small business; and service industry.
The BEOC will be activated for the first time during the state’s earthquake exercise Nov. 15-17.
The partnership between CSX and IEMA, known as SecureNOW, provides security officials with access to CSX’s Network Operations Workstation (NOW) system. This secure online system, developed and used by CSX, allows security and law enforcement officials to independently track the location of CSX trains and the contents of rail cars in a nearly real-time environment.
In addition to providing access to the NOW system, CSX works with law enforcement officials on joint rail security training and preparedness exercises, and provides around-the-clock access to CSX rail security professionals.
“This partnership allows CSX and state officials to effectively and seamlessly share information and work side by side to safeguard the communities and customers that we serve,” said Skip Elliott, CSX Vice President of Public Safety and Environment.
CSX has SecureNOW partnerships with several other states it serves.