Connecting state and local government leaders

Republican National Convention Security Taps Into the ‘Internet of Things’

Signs are passed out to delegates during the evening session of the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday.

Signs are passed out to delegates during the evening session of the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday. Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

State and local agencies are sharing geospatial and video information from sensors to keep the public safe during a tense convention.

A committee of government and private sector partners is for the first time coordinating geospatial information to ensure public safety during the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland.

Redlands, California-based geographic information system company Esri’s ArcGIS platform is facilitating map and data sharing by all agencies and stakeholders involved on the ground: Cleveland Water, Cuyahoga County, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Energy labs, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response among them.

Live feeds from weather, resources and sensors, as well as 911 calls, are being consumed on the platform for real-time situational awareness of convention participants, spectators, demonstrators and support groups.

“Large scale, high-security events like the [Republican National Convention] and [Democratic National Convention] are just one incident away from a major disaster,” Chris McIntosh, Esri public safety director, wrote Route Fifty in an email. “Esri’s ArcGIS Platform for Public Safety supports: Resource Planning, Live Resource Tracking and Data Sharing. Together they all provide dynamic situational awareness that enhances community safety.”

Given the recent mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the officer-involved shootings of two black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, and the subsequent shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, both the RNC and DNC in Philadelphia next week are expected to be tense affairs.

About 50,000 people are projected to attend this year’s RNC, including more than 5,000 delegates and their alternates. Since November, Esri has been working with the county on DHS’s Geographic Information Infrastructure sharing system for the convention.

Parade routes, road closures, parks reserved for demonstrators and the speakers’ platform status can all be updated on the fly.

“It’s been exciting to really leverage the power of GIS across a number of disciplines, agencies, and platforms,” Daniel Meaney, GISP manager of information and research at the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, said in the announcement.

Cleveland, itself, has also beefed up security with Vidsys, a video security platform that takes info from cameras and sensors around the city to prepare for and alert law enforcement to emergencies during large events. Heavily trafficked pedestrian areas, public transportation hubs and major intersections are the highest priorities.

The Vienna, Virginia-based video conferencing service platform was already used to secure Houston during the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament.

Cleveland’s Department of Public Utilities and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority were platform customers and recommended City Hall adopt it specifically for the RNC.

Hundreds of video feeds around downtown and the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held, will be integrated and shared among agencies via a unified interface.

“Vidsys is excited to partner with the City of Cleveland with securing the Republican National Convention,” James Chong, Vidsys CEO, said in a statement. “While the RNC may be a logistical challenge requiring integration from disparate systems from multiple government entities, the lessons learned and the technology employed can provide long-term benefits for the City of Cleveland beyond the event.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based out of Washington D.C.

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