SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today opened Illinois’ new State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), a state-of-the art facility that will help the state better protect Illinois residents by bringing key terrorism prevention and emergency response assets together in one location. The center will enable decision makers from several state agencies to receive timely, disaster related information that will help them make better decisions to respond to emergencies and to help protect the public in the event of an act of terrorism or a natural disaster.
The new 50,000 square foot SEOC will house the State of Illinois Response Center (SIRC), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) 24-hour communications center, the Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC) and the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center (REAC) which until now operated in separate locations.
“As the nation witnessed in the response to Hurricane Katrina, the ability to make coordinated decisions under the most stressful conditions is critical,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “By putting the right decision makers around the same table and enabling them to share the same real-time information in a state-of-the-art emergency management environment like this facility, we improve our ability to make the best possible decisions to respond to emergency situations and better protect Illinois residents.”
SIRC is the nerve center for the state’s coordination of response efforts to disaster anywhere in the state. REAC monitors the state’s 11 nuclear power reactors 24/7, and during an emergency reactor and environmental analysts use that data to determine the need for protective actions for the public. STIC is the state’s round-the-clock intelligence fusion center, with analysts reviewing and sharing information between local, state and federal entities. All notifications concerning non-law enforcement emergencies and disasters in Illinois are handled through IEMA’s 24-hour telecommunications centers.
In addition to opening the new building, the Governor also recognized the valiant efforts of over 2,500 Illinoisans who volunteered to assist in the response and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.
The Governor presented plaques to representatives of a dozen organizations that assisted following the hurricane, including: the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS); the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS); the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT), the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA); the Illinois National Guard; Illinois State Police (ISP); Secretary of State Police; Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH); Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA); Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS); Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR); and IEMA.
The total cost for the new SEOC and technology to be used in the facility is $19 million. In September 2003, Illinois received a $9.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to build the new facility. That represented the second largest grant awarded in the nation under that program. With the facility now open, Illinois becomes the first state in the nation that received an SEOC grant to complete construction of a new facility.
In addition to the federal grant, the state provided a $3.1 million match in construction bond money and $20,000 from IEMA. Funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Terrorism Task Force totaling $6 million was provided for state-of-the-art technology in the new facility. Exelon, which operates six nuclear power stations in Illinois, also contributed $800,000 for the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center and technology used to monitor conditions in and around nuclear power stations. Land for the facility was provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The heart of the new 50,000 square foot SEOC is the State of Illinois Response Center (SIRC), where more than 75 decision makers from state agencies and other response organizations will gather during emergencies to coordinate resources for response efforts. Two 12-foot by 18-foot video walls in the SIRC will enable decision makers to simultaneously view a variety of disaster-related information, including live footage from disaster sites, weather tracking, mapping, status tracking of mission response and live news coverage of the disaster. In addition, breakout rooms adjacent to the SIRC will allow up to 120 additional people to meet and work on tasks in support of the response effort.
Standing members of the SIRC include: IEMA, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, the State Fire Marshal’s office, IEMA’s Division of Nuclear Safety, the Illinois Department of Transportation Highways and Aviation, the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Illinois Department of Corrections, the American Red Cross, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Secretary of State Police. Other state agencies are involved in the SIRC depending on the type of disaster.
The new SIRC replaces the existing facility at 110 W. Adams. That facility will become the alternate SIRC and alternate telecommunications center.
The Governor thanked the General Assembly for approving the single prime bid legislation that enabled the facility to be built on time and on budget. That legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) and state Rep. Willie Delgado (D-Chicago).