Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Bill Cabage (cabagewh@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


Atlanta police will have ORNL-developed computerized command and control system for '96 Summer Olympic Games

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Jan. 17, 1996 — Next July 19, Atlanta, will host athletes from all over the world for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Throngs of spectators are expected to jam the two-week event.

The Atlanta police, who must maintain order through it all, are receiving some high-tech assistance from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Center for Applied Science and Technology for Law Enforcement (CASTLE) Program, which is part of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems' National Security Program Office. Researchers are currently devising a personal computer-based command, control, and scheduling system to replace the Atlanta Police Department's largely pen-and-paper system of putting forces where they are most needed.

Bob Hunter of ORNL's Computational Physics and Engineering Division (CPED) has studied the potential problems of Atlanta's Olympic venues. "Most of the events will be concentrated in a three-mile circle," he said. "There could be phenomenal congestion problems in this 'Olympic ring,' and it is a situation ripe for crime and terrorism. Even though the Atlanta police are bringing on reserves, volunteers, and police from other cities, they still will be stretched thin.

"They have a mountain of information needs: They need to be able to keep track of where their resources are - their people, cars, and special equipment - and where they are needed the least and the most. And, they need to know what's going on in real time: is a Willie Nelson concert letting out at the Olympic Park at the same time as a major gymnastics event at the stadium next door?" .

Hunter and his colleagues in the Integrated Computing Applications section of CPED face a tight deadline in getting their command and control system ready. The Atlanta PD came to Hunter because no one else would do it. "They were turned down because of the high risk of attempting to build such a complex system critical to the security of the Olympics in anything less than three years. The reason we can do it is that we're adapting technology and concepts from other command and control systems we've built for the military and we're doing it on the PC platform, which has better tools for rapid application development," Hunter said.

Hunter made good on their commitment: In less than three months he delivered the first phase of the project to the Atlanta PD - a set of tools to assist Atlanta in planning Olympic security and a prototype program to illustrate the key command and control concepts he's working to implement. The officers are assessing the system and making suggestions on what will work and what will need to be customized further.

"This interaction is crucial," Hunter said. "Because time is so tight, we can't keep trying to get it right through trial and error. The participation of the end users - the policemen - in the design process is a cornerstone in this project's success."

"The operation and maintenance of this system will be fairly simple because it's PC based," Hunter said. "This was important too because, like most police departments, Atlanta PD has little money for automation. Most of a police department's money resources go for new cars and better equipment. CASTLE recognized this and saw ORNL as a source of affordable technology for law enforcement."

Another plus for this project: Hunter's team specializes in squeezing workstation-type performance out of low-cost PC systems. To do this, "we take problems that are traditionally solved with a processing-intensive mathematical approach and redefine them as a data-base solution. This allows us to apply advanced data-base technologies for the personal computer."

Once in place, the system's architecture will have two primary facets: a field manager and a central manager. The field manager systems will be used by the Olympic venue commanders and other key sites to communicate key management data with the central manager systems at police headquarters. The central manager systems will be used by the chief of police to monitor the status of resources and to make critical police deployment decisions.

"The focal point of the system is the central manager. This is where all of the data such as crime around the city, Olympic event status, and current traffic problems come together, are analyzed, and are turned into decision support information," Hunter said. In addition to providing continuous analysis of data, the central manager has a scheduling program that optimizes the use of police resources. Should something occur that requires additional police to manage the situation, the central manager will automatically identify the most available police to call in and reschedule the remainder of the Olympics police support to accommodate this new requirement.

The Atlanta PD is using the system now, however, to plan for the Olympics. "One of the planning features allows the central manager to run simulations of events beforehand," Hunter explained. "They can look at the interaction between Olympic and cultural events, anticipated traffic jams, road closures, and peak subway loads and plan accordingly."

The other key system being developed by Hunter is the field manager. This is the system used by the police at the Olympic venues to communicate with other venues and the central manager. Venue commanders will use the field manager to track and assign vehicles and report who and what is where and when. There are many variables: someone gets sick, a squad car breaks down, a certain portal becomes a hot spot for demonstrations.

The Atlanta system, funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, could form the baseline for high-end crime analysis, which is a design parameter for the ORNL group. "We're designing this system to make an easy transition from command and control to police work," Hunter said. "Officials will be able to use this system to do complex analysis of patterns of crime from tens of thousands of pieces of information. Our sponsors want this system to be available for full-blown crime analysis and to be readily transferable to other events, such as a California earthquake, that could shatter existing infrastructures."

"There is no precedent for this software in police work," Hunter said. "It was estimated that it would take three years and $3 million to do this system, but the Olympics won't wait. We'll get it done in a year for less than $1 million."

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram research laboratories, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems manages the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant and the Oak Ridge K-25 Site for DOE.