Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 26 November 2010 00:00
On Friday, Nov. 12 the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security held a commissioning ceremony for its Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage. It is the first and only privately owned homeland security center in the nation that serves emergency first responders (fire, police, transportation, etc.) and other security services. The building also supports companies on the leading edge of homeland security technology development and academia resources.
“There have been enough examples over the past 12 to 18 months so that everybody very well understands that national security, homeland security, emergency preparedness and response, and law enforcement at all levels are linked together,” said Chairman of the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security Paul Schneider. He is the immediate former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge gave the keynote address. Senator Dean Skelos, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, and the Commissioner of Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management James Callahan were also in attendance and spoke to the crowd of over 200 people.
“This is ultimately the best of the public-private partnership,” said Ridge. “This organization provides a glide-path, you take the intellectual firepower of universities or the scientists, or small companies located here and combine it with the other assets that you are building here, build the glide-path, help them create to become a larger company or integrate with another company and away you go.”
Mangano said, “On behalf of Nassau County, I am just honored that we are able to relocate our Office of Emergency Management from the basement of a jail to this state-of-the-art center that brings together government, academia, the private sector, defense industry leaders like Northrop Grumman, to come together to make our county a safer place to live, work and raise a family, and most importantly to be at the ready.”
The Morrelly Homeland Security Center is a three floor, 90,000 square foot C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence) facility that was established with a $25 million grant from New York State. It has a wide-array of command and control capabilities. It is also home to Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management. With 17 fire departments, and 18 police departments just within Nassau County alone, having all emergency service communications and monitoring within one building ensures shared critical information and instant communication; no single agency will have access to only its own set of information on a shared incident.
“Like a ship ready for active duty, the Morrelly Homeland Security Center will stand sentinel over our country in the event of a man-made or natural disaster,” said Frank Otto, who is president of the foundation. “This blend of cooperation and operations is what makes it a first of its kind for developing and delivering key solutions for the communities we serve,” Otto said. “We will work with our member companies, such as V.C.O.R.E. [Virtual Command Operations & Response Environments Solutions, LLC.], to increase the commercialization and availability of needed first responder technologies.”
The vision for the center has become a reality due to the contributions of the late C. Kenneth Morrelly, Phil Teel, Senator Dean Skelos, Congressman Steve Israel and Congressman Peter King.
“The more you spoke with Ken [Morrelly], the more you understood that this was an investment, an investment that would pay off in many ways; it would pay off in terms of protecting those of us who live on the Island, protect those of us in New York State, which is always a target,” said Senator Skelos. “Those who want to kill us can make mistakes; those who are there to protect us cannot make mistakes, so the homeland security center is being commissioned today as part of that continuum protecting all of us in this county, especially through innovation.”
Members of the Bethpage Volunteer Fire Department served as color guard for the commissioning ceremony, in honor of the 343 members of FDNY lost in the rescue mission at the World Trade Towers.
The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to help protect the United States from man-made and natural disasters by: (1) bringing together the public and private sectors and academia to develop and commercialize resilient and sustainable homeland security products and services; (2) providing a state-of-art command and control center for government entities; and, (3) offering the most up-to-date training and exercise programs for first responders and other homeland security end-users. For more information visit www.asfhs.org.