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10/31/2003 - Terabyte Triangle Welcomes CTA

"Five minutes before the flood is not the time to learn to swim" is CTA, Inc. security specialist, David Geer's motto. Geer is a certified building inspector and his beat is facility security planning. In this digital age, many are concerned with keeping the company's data safe, but Geer and CTA are concerned with keeping people, buildings, and inventory secure.

Professional security analysts have identified fifty-seven different possible incidents that have possible disaster components. These fifty-seven incidents include both natural and man-made disasters --- from fire, flood, and earthquakes to terrorist attacks, arson, and industrial accidents --- from avalanches to volcanoes. "Security is no longer an option," says Geer, "now it's considered just a matter of time before some plan is needed." "Security is a huge subject," Geer continues, "and there are few experts." The society of security professionals is so small that they all know each other. This means they help and train each other in their various specialties. Then the security professionals go out and train others --- fire fighters, health agencies, and police. "Fortune favors the prepared," is another CTA Motto.

CTA, Inc. is a large architecture and engineering firm that was founded in 1938 by Ralph Cushing, a structural engineer, and Everett Terrell, an architect. The firm, whose home office is in Billings, Montana, has grown into a large organization with offices all over the Northwest. The CTA Terabyte Triangle office is in the Fernwell Executive Suites at 505 W. Riverside. Geer is the only CTA security specialist, and travels to wherever his expertise is needed.

When Geer does a security assessment he addresses the three R's --- readiness, response and recovery. A readiness assessment identifies what needs protecting. This includes taking an inventory of the assets, and understanding the potential threats to those assets. When assets are known, Geer either creates a response plan or assesses any plan that is already in place. This plan takes into account all fifty-seven of the disaster possibilities, and identifies the best tools for dealing with them. Then he helps create the recovery plan specifying how to overcome the disaster and get back into business. Again, Geer will create a plan, or he will assess and evaluate plans drawn up by others.

Geer's work has covered business buildings, utilities, schools, water systems, dams and national monuments. His initial background was in the design and building of schools --- especially as the design pertained to safety and security --- and he has worked with school districts, colleges, and universities. The State of Washington has mandated that every school in the state have a disaster plan. Unfortunately, no funds were allotted for creation of this plan. "However," Geer says, "there are some Homeland Security funds to help with this, and there are all kinds of materials available, training exercises, and equipment identified that will help expedite planning when funds become available." Geer constantly stresses "being prepared."

CTA and Geer are part of Montana based Community Security Alliance (CSA). This alliance was formed to identify security issues, determine problems, and find solutions to those problems. Some of the problems are the inability to communicate across responding agencies, limited systems integration, a multitude of service providers, and disparate and legacy systems. This leads to inefficiency and duplication of efforts by emergency response teams such as fire and police. Other needed agencies like health districts and disaster relief agencies may be slow to respond just because they haven't received any information.

The CSA solution is to build an integrated communications system that links all public safety entities --- city, county, state, and federal. CSA plans to facilitate an integrated, turn-key, end-to-end communications system that will accomplish this link. The pilot project for this system is the Missoula Project which is intended to illustrate how communities can integrate the communication systems of all responders, as well as with the private sector. This project is intended to lay the groundwork for testing advanced technology and telecommunications integrated systems, and to provide a model for other communities. The Missoula Project --- just underway--- is a five-year project and is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $25 million.

For more information about CTA, Inc., go to:

Billie Moreland
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