NYPD builds fail-safe communication network
By Murray Weiss and David Seifman
The New York Post
NEW YORK — The NYPD is spending millions of dollars on a fail-safe satellite communication network in the event land line and cellular services are knocked out by a disaster.
And officials aren't talking about a terrorist attack - but fallout from a crippling natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina.
The backup system, which includes antennas on the rooftop of every station house and hard-wiring facilities for global communication, is included in emergency plans to cope with storm surges of 25 feet, 120-mph winds and hundreds of casualties.
The NYPD has embarked on a $5 million project to install the electronic infrastructure at all its 76 precincts and dozens of other housing, transit and special operations structures with the two-foot high antennas to be in place by the end of May and the service available by July.
In addition, the department has already purchased about 150 satellite phones - each costing about $1,000 a piece - that are in the hands of supervisors all over the Big Apple should the need arise for hand-held connectivity.
And the NYPD is seeking to buy another 120 phones to further expand the global hookup to ensure cops can communicate during any situation.
"Whatever the emergency, even if there is a localized blackout from telephone lines and service being cut, we would still have commanders in affected areas with communication abilities even in isolated, catastrophic conditions," an NYPD spokesman said.
During the attack on the World Trade Center, cellular phone and land line service were severely disrupted.
But predictions about the impact of a natural calamity could dwarf the difficulties that arose on 9/11, especially when it comes to communications and keeping the city running. In recent years, meteorologists have warned that climate in the Northeast was creating a scenario for a massive cycle of storms, pressure systems and high water temperatures in the Atlantic, which could produce killer hurricanes.
Copyright 2008 The New York Post