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RIEDC Awarded $1.4 million to Expand Narragansett Bay Port Security Network

U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant supports new security sensors

The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) has received a $1,402,549 Port Security Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to support expansion of the state's Port Security Communications Network in and around Narragansett Bay.

RIEDC spearheaded the grant application, in partnership with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Law Enforcement Division, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and the Providence Emergency Management Agency.

"Expanding this important communications network allows state and local leaders to better prepare for and respond to natural or manmade disasters in Narragansett Bay's busy ports, terminals and shipping routes," said J. Michael Saul, interim executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. "We're gratified that Homeland Security agreed to fully fund our request to support Rhode Island's port security."

The grant will fund the addition of new sensors, including cameras, motion detectors and radar, on the Newport and Mount Hope bridges, in the ports of Galilee and Davisville, and near the federal anchorages north of the Newport Bridge and west of Goat Island. The new sensors will help officials better monitor ship traffic and assess potential security threats.

"This grant will allow Rhode Island to cover as much of Narragansett Bay as possible to improve security and coordinate multi-agency response to any event in the area," said RIEMA Executive Director J. David Smith.

The grant funds will also pay for a training program – tentatively called "Bay Boundaries" – that will explore methodologies to integrate local, state and federal security programs and technology for rapid, coordinated responses to any natural or manmade disaster in Narragansett Bay. This investment will allow agencies to rehearse and assess how they can maximize existing facilities, equipments and processes to more efficiently respond to any maritime disaster in Narragansett Bay.

The state designed and installed the seamless, secure and wireless Port Security Communications Network (PSCN) in 2006 with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness. The network monitors vessel traffic in Narragansett Bay in real-time and allows emergency responders, state officials, local leaders, harbormasters and law enforcement officers to share and distribute data and streaming video via a secured web portal hosted by DHS's Homeland Security Information Network.

Also in 2006, Narragansett Bay was chosen by the DHS as the host for a port-security communications network pilot program because of the state's compact size and its ability to coordinate amongst various agencies. The network is serving as a model of effective port-security communications for the rest of the United States.

The city of Providence recently secured federal funding to replicate portions of the Port Security Communications Network in the capital city's port and integrate with the balance of the network.

Also awarded Port Security Grants were: city of East Providence Fire Department ($75,000); Rhode Island State Police ($24,980), Sprague Energy Corp. ($22,500); and the city of Warwick ($45,000).

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