Runners and spectators from all over the world will descend on Boston for the 116th annual Boston Marathon on April 16, 2012. As the world's oldest annual marathon, the event draws more than 20,000 participants and nearly 500,000 spectators each year.
This year, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), Massachusetts National Guard, and eight localities along the marathon route, will use the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS) to help manage the event and keep everyone safe.
S&T funded the development of NICS, an online incident map that provides timely situational awareness for first responders. Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, in partnership with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), NICS aims to help first responders work together effectively during a disaster or other large-scale event. During an incident, NICS manages real-time feeds of vehicle locations, airborne images, video, weather, critical infrastructure, and terrain. These feeds are integrated as selectable layers onto a map using a geographical information system. NICS works as a virtual white board where responders can then use this information to team up, pool resources, and plot strategies. Any credentialed responder can mark up the map or type a message on the whiteboard below it.
For the Boston Marathon, NICS will display information like the marathon route, the locations of aid stations and water stations, and the GPS coordinates of the lead and trailing vehicles. Additionally, the NICS team is working with the BAA to access runner chip data along the marathon route. This information will provide a density map of runners so that first responders can better understand where the packs of runners are located and better prepare for potential incidents. NICS will also test the integration of local road opening and closing data to give neighboring towns better situational awareness of race conditions and route planning for emergency vehicles.
For more information on NICS, please view its technology profile here.