A Proposal for using "CEMP" to Implement Remote Community Alert Systems in Southern Nevada

Affiliation(s) PI Project period Funded by
DEES Hartwell, William T 10/01/2009 - 09/30/2010 DOC - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration MASC

Project Description

While the State of Nevada has been among the fastest growing states in population during much of the past decade, the growth has been concentrated in two areas---around Las Vegas in Clark County, and around the Reno-Carson City area in Washoe and Douglas Counties. In contrast, population density in most of the rural counties of Nevada is less than 2 persons per square mile, according to 2000 census data. Although cellular phone coverage is provided by a number of carriers in the two metropolitan areas, it is limited in the remainder of the state because of the low population density and the mountainous terrain which frequently interferes with signal transmission. This project proposes to make use of existing assets of the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) in several remote community sites to establish and implement several Remote Community Alert Systems in southern Nevada in support of the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act. The CEMP is a network of 29 radiation and weather monitoring stations located in Nevada, Utah, and California. Its mission is to provide stakeholders with a hands-on role in monitoring for airborne radiological releases to the offsite environment that might result from past or ongoing activities on the Nevada Test Site (NTS), and to make monitoring data as transparent and accessible to the general public as feasible. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office (NNSA/NSO), and is administered by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Many of the CEMP stations in Nevada are located in small towns and ranches, including four rural counties with population densities less than 2 persons per square mile. DRI has equipped the stations with state-of-the-art electronic data collectors and communications hardware that uses land-line, cellular, DSL and wireless internet, and satellite technologies to transmit collected data in near real-time to a public website. Data are managed through the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) in Reno, operated by DRI for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Currently, 24 of the CEMP stations are capable of two-way communications. We propose to use four CEMP sites as communications hubs for transmitting emergency messages related to weather, road conditions, EAS or EBS broadcasts such as Amber alerts, or other emergencies of local community concern. This will be accomplished by co-locating large (approximately 2' x 6') LED digital messaging signs at four CEMP station sites in remote communities and adjacent to highways serving these communities. In addition, a public web site will be developed to provide a single-site avenue for display of relevant messages, as well as to allow public registration to receive email and possibly cellular text of these messages. Collaborative partners for this effort will include the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), Nevada Department of Public Safety County Emergency Managers, the National Weather Service (NWS), and the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. In addition, local stakeholders who help maintain the CEMP stations in their towns ("Community Environmental Monitors") will assist as well. Because the CEMP was created in part to assist with public safety in the unlikely event of a radiological release from the NTS, having it contribute to the WARN is a natural extension of its mission and its use as proposed herein is supported by DOE.