Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOCSM)

Concept Overview

The BEOC is a Private Sector organized, managed, and staffed emergency coordination/operations center focused on all-hazards disaster prevention, preparation, response, and recovery. Its goal is to make the Private Sector self-reliant and self-sufficient during emergencies and disasters through information sharing and shared situational awareness. The BEOC is being jointly developed through a collaborative effort between academia, led by the NJ Institute of Technology (NJIT), business, as represented by the New Jersey Business Force (NJBF.), and the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) Picatinny Arsenal. The NJ Business Force as of April 1, 2009 has transitioned from BENS to regional sponsorship under the NJ Institute of Technology. The BEOC provides a set of unique services described below.

BEOC development is consistent with the basic guidance provided by President Bush's October 2007 National Strategy for Information Sharing www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/infosharing/sectionV.html as well as the January 2008 National Response Framework www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nrf/nrf-core.pdf

This BEOC effort places the NY/NJ Region in the forefront of visibility at the both the Federal level and among several Department of Defense (DOD) agencies. Furthermore the BEOC is evolving into a national collaborative model for private sector information sharing and is being further developed as an information sharing exchange between the private sector and public sector during emergency management scenarios.

BEOC Roles and Functions

  1. Business-to-Business Collaboration and Communications. The organization and design of the BEOC will facilitate 360 degree communications between private sector participating organizations. It will establish both a physical and technologically enabled virtual hub to connect individual company emergency operations centers (EOCs) on a real-time basis. This will provide for effective cross-industry support during a crisis as well as form the basis of and Information Sharing Environment (ISE) vital for intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination.
  2. Interface with Public Sector Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs.) The BEOC will be independently activated in parallel with Public Sector agencies at multiple levels of government (city, county, state, regional, national) such as the Hudson County EOC. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with Hudson County as the initial Public Sector partner. Other Public Sector entities have contacted us regarding the expansion of this partnership initiative. Our objective is to provide a timely communication conduit with different levels of Public Sector agencies starting with New Jersey and those in New Jersey as the epicenter. This role is intended to be an additional level of support to the Public Sector and not to intrude upon the incident management responsibilities at play during response scenarios at the municipal, county, state, federal, and DOD levels. The key for the private sector is "anticipation". Communication with government allows the private sector to engage in anticipatory processes both for their own survivability and to assist government response activities.
  3. Business to Non-Government Organization (NGO) Collaboration. The BEOC will provide an important interface and collaboration function with NGOs like the American Red Cross and Salvation Army that are involved in community preparedness and response initiatives. This may include the mobilization of needed supplies and volunteers during an emergency.
  4. Asset and Volunteer Mobilization. One of the ancillary functions of the BEOC will be to solicit, both on a pre-arranged and spontaneous basis, supplies and volunteers as needed by the Public Sector EOC partners and member NGOs. The NJBF developed Business Response Network (BRN) is available now and is populated with thousands of items available on a pro bono basis. See www.businessresponsenetwork.org for further information.
Operations
  1. Staffing. The BEOC will be staffed by pre-identified, pre-trained, and pre-equipped individuals from the business community who have been empowered by their organizations to participate in BEOC drills and emergency operations. Initial member participation will likely include monthly sessions for planning, training, and exercising.
  2. Physical, Virtual, Mobile Components. The BEOC will select a primary and back-up physical facility to be activated for meetings, drills and emergency events. More significantly, technologies are currently being assembled that will enable effective participation on a virtual basis. This virtual capability is critical for both the initial minutes following an event and in cases where travel restrictions are imposed. A mobile component is being investigated with Monmouth University based on their DOD-funded work on advanced mobile command centers.
  3. Volunteer Registry, Training, Deployment, and Management. An MOU has been signed with The World Cares Center (WCC) in New York City to administer the volunteer component of the BEOC. WCC is a non-profit organization specializing in the training, management, and effective use of spontaneous volunteers. See www.worldcares.org .
  4. DoD Participation. The NJBF uses the ARDEC EOC technology test facility as the primary BEOC physical and virtual hub location. Picatinny has been designated as the New Jersey Center for Homeland Defense Technologies and Security Readiness. See www.pica.army.mil/HLD/ .
Technologies

NJIT is heading the BEOC Technology Committee effort as a function of their role as the State of New Jersey Homeland Security Technology Center. Committee membership includes Apex Innovations, NC4, Verizon Communications, New Jersey Public Television (NJN), Picatinny Arsenal, and Monmouth University. NJIT's strategy for the BEOC is to integrate existing technologies into an effective platform for use in an emergency operations environment – especially as it relates to virtual participation. The following is a list of NJIT BEOC technology research thrust areas for 2009 and 2010:

  1. Notifications/Alerts
    • Integration of the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination (NC4) system alerts with other technologies, as well as potential access to NC4's E-Team product.
    • Utilization of NJN's DigitalSecure private channel datacasting capabilities.
    • Deployment of ham radio technologies to augment traditional means of communications through collaborations with RACES and MARS.
  2. Collaboration
    • Integrated Platform. Desktop video conferencing with enhanced capabilities (i.e. integrated cell phone communications.) hosted by Verizon.
    • Physical Collaboration. The use of the Picatinny Arsenal's EOC facilities as a test bed to build exercise simulations, exercise diverse technologies, and develop protocols for the physical BEOC.
    • Mobile Collaboration. An informal partnership has been established with Monmouth University to integrate their Rapid Response Center's mobile technology with the developing BEOC operational protocols.
  3. Communication
    • Use of Video conferencing technology hosted by Verizon in NJ. This allows for rapid video bridging required for sit reps during emergency response and recovery
    • Communications capabilities embedded in the NJBF Private Channel within the NC4 ESA system
    • Apex Innovations i-INFO system capabilities
  4. Incident Management Support: Continued deployment and enhancement of the Apex Innovations' i-INFO supported BRN asset and volunteer registry database for resource sharing and inventory control. This aligns itself with the concept of resource response.
  5. Modeling and Simulation (M&S): The BEOC will develop M&S systems and technologies to be used primarily by the private sector for exercise simulation activities. We will explore the use of L3 communication M&S technologies as well as ARDEC M&S technologies and test their use during Tier 1 through Tier 4 exercises. We will seek to integrate with DHS simulation and modeling activities.
  6. Total Integration. This capability is provided by the NC4 Cyber-cop portal. This allows the BEOC to function virtually and to share information securely with private sector EOCs during the prevention/mitigation, response, and recovery dimensions of emergency management. The NJBF/ BEOC is beginning to develop a private sector Information Sharing Environment (ISE) and a private sector SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) process with SEERN (Southeast Emergency Response Network) that integrates the BEOC with SEERN and other regional partners using the single sign-on feature of NC4's Cybercop portal. Currently the following organizations are on the BEOC NC4 Cybercop portal:
    • ADP
    • American Association of Railroads (AAR)
    • ARDEC (Picatinny Arsenal)
    • Boeing
    • Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership
    • Dun and Bradstreet
    • Georgia Business Force
    • Hackensack University Medical Center
    • Honeywell
    • Humanitarian International Service Group
    • L3 Communication
    • MEDCO
    • NC4
    • NJ Resources
    • NORAD/Northcom Interagency Support Group
    • Novartis
    • Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER)
    • Pfizer
    • Prudential
    • PSE&G
    • Safeguard Iowa
    • Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) - NJ Post
    • Southeast Emergency Response Network (SEERN)
    • The Alaska Partnership for Infrastructure Protection (APIP)
    • The CIT Group
    • United Water
    • Verizon
    • Wal-Mart (Bentonville)
Governance
A Governance Committee of senior level management from NJ Business Force organizations has been established to oversee BEOC policy, interface with top-level Public Sector partners (i.e. Federal and FEMA private sector offices, NORAD/NORTHCOM Interagency Support Group, governmental agencies and departments), and to recruit the participation of senior executives of other companies and organizations. The Governance Committee will meet semi-annually as a minimum.

Participation
The BEOC is a NJBF, NJIT, and ARDEC initiated and supported center but does not require NJBF membership for virtual Cybercop portal participation. NJBF membership, however, will be encouraged over time for those organizations deriving internal benefits from their BEOC involvement.

NJBF and its member organizations, associations, and consortiums, also seek the active support and participation of associations to include but not be limited to NJ State Chamber of Commerce, NJ Business & Industry Association, ASIS, and other trade and professional organizations and associations that may be interested in the BEOC concepts and operations.

The BEOC will continue to seek partnerships with city, county, state, regional, and national Public Sector health and emergency management agencies.

Picture of the Physical ARDEC test EOC that is being used for BEOC exercises and technology testing. Picture of the
Physical ARDEC test EOC that is being used for BEOC exercises and technology
testing.

Questions regarding the BEOC should be directed to:
Col. Hank Straub (USAF) (ret.) NJBF Director of Programs
(609) 777-3999 beoc@njit.edu
or
Dr. Michael Chumer Research Professor - NJ Institute of Technology
(973) 596-5484 chumer@njit.edu

Footnote:
BEOCSM represents a "service" marked entity that identifies a unique set of services as described herein.