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Released June 30, 2004


LONG BEACH, Miss. - Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) visited The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast campus in Long Beach Wednesday morning to recognize the substantial achievements of the Mississippi Automated System Project in implementing a pilot network to improve data communications between the state's first responders.

The ASP was initiated in June 2002 under the governance of the three coastal sheriffs who partnered with Southern Miss to hold the federal grants for the project. With $14 million secured by Cochran and Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to enhance data information sharing among all local first responders - including individuals working in law enforcement, fire fighting, and emergency medical services - the project has achieved tremendous success in a relatively short period.

"Initially, the project was to bring all three sheriff's departments, 10 police departments, 15 fire departments, and two EMS providers in the three coastal counties of Mississippi onto a single, centralized, data information sharing system," said Dr. Julian Allen, executive director for Public Safety Technology and Training Programs at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. "This would put critical, time-sensitive information in the hands of the first responders at the local level." Subsequently, the project is beginning to move out of the coastal counties into other areas of the state.

"I am proud that Southern Miss is serving as 'home base' for this critical homeland security project," said university President Shelby Thames. "We have developed a model partnership between higher education and public safety that I believe can be followed nationwide."

At the conclusion of the project, this centralized information database will contain every type of public safety information, Allen said. "Information such as arrest warrants, criminal intelligence, mug shots, hazardous materials data, and medical emergency protocols will all be available across multiple jurisdictions, enhancing the first responders' abilities to prevent and respond to incidents posing danger to the public."

The first two of three major milestones for the project have been met.

  • Implementation of a Jail Management System that supports the three coastal county jails went live Feb. 3, 2004, a first in Mississippi history.
  • Rollout of the Records Management System for fire and law enforcement and Computer Aided Dispatch for fire fighting, law enforcement, and EMS was achieved June 8, 2004, when the Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach Fire Department, and Harrison County Sheriff's Department went live on RMS and CAD.
  • Implementation of a mobile data infrastructure that will connect laptop computers in the responders' vehicles to the JMS, RMS, CAD, and other databases is anticipated in October. CAD, RMS, and Mobile Application are provided by the team of BellSouth Business Systems and InterAct Public Safety Systems.

In addition to these milestones, the project has been expanded and partnered with the Mississippi attorney general to provide software and networking for a Case Management System by Ciber for the 22 district attorney offices throughout the state.

The two centralized data centers for the network are separated by 60 miles - one in Pascagoula and another in Hattiesburg. These centers contain identical IBM eServer iSeries 825 servers that act as backup for each other through Lakeview MIMIX software. Each center also has two eServer xSeries 445 servers running Tarantella Enterprise 3 remote access software.

"This centralized information-sharing design works on the economies of scale business model that drives the recurring maintenance and support services costs down as more agencies come on board," Allen said.

Likewise, he said, the centralized approach makes end-user training and system upgrades less expensive and easier to implement. Looking to the future, Allen anticipates a system like this offering an opportunity to all local public safety agencies in Mississippi to come on board at a reasonable cost.

"Peel back the homeland security onion and you'll find this project at the center," Allen said. "This is homeland security!"

For more information about the Mississippi Automated System Project, call Dr. Julian Allen at the Southern Regional Public Safety Institute at (228) 865-4595.


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July 15, 2004 5:21 PM