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Chicago’s Big Security Shoulders

As the third most populous city in the United States, the city of Chicago is home to 2.7 million residents and hosts more than 45 million visitors annually. All of these people look to law enforcement and private security for protection. As ASIS members travel to the Windy City for the ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits, Security Management takes a look at three examples of how public-private partnerships are keeping the people of Chicago and their businesses safe.

Chicago O’Hare Airport

More than 77 million passengers pass through Chicago O’Hare Airport each year. The airport covers more than 7,000 acres across two counties and directly employs around 50,000 people. The world’s 5th busiest airport, O’Hare has four terminals, 189 gates, and six runways that facilitate one million flights each year. The scope of these numbers is not lost on Richard Edgeworth, chief safety and security officer for the Chicago Department of Aviation and a former member of the Chicago Fire Department who served as assistant deputy fire commissioner before coming to O’Hare.

Edgeworth’s department is responsible for protecting the airport and the people who use it. This means maintaining robust public-private partnerships not only with other airport stakeholders such as the airlines but also with numerous external parties, including police, fire, and federal officials. And that’s especially critical when it comes to emergency response.

Mike Dacey, who works for the emergency management section of the Chicago Department of Aviation, is another key player who helps bring together these various stakeholders for numerous disaster scenarios that he devises each year. These scenarios cover a wide range of possible threats, including hostage situations, active-shooter incidents, and health events,such as a bird flu outbreak. 

Each major scenario is broken up into two sections, which Dacey refers to as discussion-based and operations-based. The discussion-based portion occurs first, with the operations-based exercise following shortly after. Keeping the two parts of the exercise separate allows the group to take time to talk through the issue thoroughly and uncover planning problems. The second exercise then serves to highlight operational challenges.

Dozens of agencies participate, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs, airlines, the fire department, first responders from all local jurisdictions, and various law enforcement organizations. During the exercises, Dacey and his team are on hand to provide strategic guidance but do not take over tactical duties. Participants must make decisions and take action themselves.

The exercises take place in the Chicago Department of Aviation’s Incident Management Center (IMC). The IMC receives video from the 3,000 cameras operated by O’Hare and nearby Chicago Midway International Airport. With video and voice conferencing to all major stakeholders, the team can deal with emergency scenarios completely from the IMC, which holds 50 people. Seats are numbered and correspond to certain disciplines. “This allows us to cluster similar functions together,” says Dacey.

The IMC is also in communication with the airport’s Joint Information Center, where public information officers are located, and with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which handles emergency dispatch between the public and first responders.

Seven exercises were planned for 2013, with some already having been carried out at press time. For example, a disaster scenario involving a crashed airplane was conducted in May. Dacey explains that the airport conducts training involving an airline every three years. This helps the airlines but also assists the Chicago Fire Department, which is required to periodically conduct a full-scale exercise where the airline is the victim. In the May scenario, an incoming flight by Iberia Airlines was said to have crashed landed on a roadway as it was coming in to O’Hare; it broke into pieces. “It’s a response effort for us and an airline crash for them,” explains Dacey.

Dacey tries to alter the type of incident when he does scenarios involving airlines so that there are new lessons each time. For example, the last such scenario was with British Airways and involved an explosion at the terminal gate. “We try to mix it up so it’s not predictable,” says Dacey.

After the British Airways scenario, Iberia Airlines requested that Dacey conduct an exercise with them. Because the airline has a small presence at O’Hare and is headquartered in Spain, local airline personnel wanted to be prepared should an emergency occur. The exercise involved 69 people from 34 organizations. The focus was on testing about eight of the 37 core capabilities FEMA has identified as important for stakeholders to have during an emergency. Among the issues focused on were alert and dispatch. “This involves how we get the word that there is an accident,” he says. “The notification can come from anywhere. Maybe the communications center receives word and dispatches first responders.”

Other core capabilities that were tested were on-site incident management and tactical operations. The issues involved everything from how to contact the NTSB to how to deal with grieving relatives and give guidance to first responders.

Another issue was public information. During the chaos, Iberia personnel who were on the scene had to have a process for contacting public information personnel at headquarters and making sure that everyone involved with talking to the media was putting out a unified message about the incident.

Given the nature of the scenario, there were injuries. This meant working with a hospital coordinator to conduct emergency triage and to obtain hospital transport. “If there are mass injuries, the hospital coordinator sends victims to various hospitals to balance the load,” says Dacey. “Someone needs to be in contact with hospitals to make sure they are ready.”

Because there were casualties assumed to have occurred in this scenario, the medical examiner was also invited to participate.

While stakeholders were conducting the exercise, Dacey was working to make it as realistic and, therefore, as stressful as possible. To this end, Dacey created a list of activities that were going on around the airport before, during, and after the mishap. For example, he told participants that the fire department was not readily available because it was responding to an incident elsewhere, and police were responding to a man with a knife at the terminal, explains Dacey.

He also turned the telephone ringers to the highest level and added flashing lights around the room. “The noise and lights create the havoc that would be present in a real emergency,” he says. “People must still focus on what they have to do.”
These extra distractions also give all members of the team something to do. For example, an unrelated water-main break might mean that maintenance personnel have to split their crew and provide fewer people for the disaster. This puts pressure on the police and fire officials to do more with less. “This is what you want,” says Dacey, “to learn how people work together under stress.”

Altering the scenario also helps test different functionality. For example, in past exercises, the ability of the video system to capture images from long distances was tested. Other exercises require the presence of the fire department helicopter, which helps the department test its pilots and their video system.

Iberia took away several lessons from the exercise, including the need to accommodate family members of accident victims, work with the fire department on specifics of the aircraft, and increase training opportunities between airline personnel and first responders.

The most critical lesson learned was that the airline must accommodate the friends and family of the victims. The NTSB requires each airline to have an accommodation plan in place, and most airlines around the country default to using an airport hotel. “But we only have one hotel at the airport, and it’s right in the middle of the airport,” says Dacey. “This means that the hotel might overlook the accident scene.”

Since the exercise, Iberia has entered into an agreement with several off-site hotels to put up friends and family. Iberia also contracted out with a third-party to work with the various hotels on the specific needs that they might have to address during an emergency.

The airline also learned that it needed to have an aircraft expert on call at all times. In the case of an accident, the fire department requires that the airline provide someone to brief them on the aircraft. A U.S. airline would teleconference the fire department official with someone from the parent organization. But, in this case, the expert was in Spain. The time difference and distance became a major issue.

The exercise also revealed that the airline needed to conduct follow-up training with first responders. Because the airport is a restricted area, even first responders must be escorted. This means that “staging areas must be set up and motor escorts provided,” according to Dacey. The airline found that it needed more resources, drawn from other airlines, to meet this need.

These training exercises often look at emergency response in light of regulations and compliance protocols set out by the federal government or state agencies. But, Dacey notes, the lesson is to go above and beyond the basic requirements. “We always ask: ‘Are we [just] compliant or are we competent?’”

City of Chicago

The office of emergency management (OEM) is the central hub for communications in the city of Chicago. The OEM serves as the city’s operations center for emergencies. In that capacity, it provides public assistance during emergencies and serves as the city’s contact with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Illinois Office of Emergency Management, and other federal and state emergency management agencies. It also disseminates emergency planning and disaster recovery materials.
The massive amount of information gathered by the OEM is used to meet the immediate needs of the populace, to help coordinate security efforts for large events, and to facilitate high-tech crime solving.

911 calls. The OEM also houses a newly renovated 911 dispatch center, which handles about 5.2 million emergency calls annually. At each of the center’s 127 workstations assigned to handle 911 calls, a dispatcher interacts with information on several separate screens. Each call that comes in pulls up a map of the location on one screen, then another screen indicates to the dispatcher the number of available police cars, and a third screen allows the employee to record information gathered during or related to the call, such as the type of emergency reported and the number of vehicles dispatched to the scene.

Each station has a light mounted on a pole that can be used to notify a supervisor of the status of the call. A green light means that the employee is on a routine call, and there’s no need for help; a blue light means that assistance is required for a high-priority call; and a red light indicates an emergency situation. Supervisors monitor all calls for patterns. A large lighted board is also mounted on one wall of the room in order to indicate how many calls are pending and the status of each.

Partnerships. The OEM coordinates public-private partnerships. Because it takes the lead in coordinating among federal and state agencies, the OEM hosts all stakeholders when planning for large events, many of which involve more than 1 million people. For example, public and private organizations met at the OEM when planning for the NATO summit held in Chicago in May 2012.

Data analysis. In another part of the OEM facility, employees monitor other information sources to maintain situational awareness. The OEM has access to more than 22,000 cameras throughout the city. The camera feeds come from both public and private sources and include traffic cameras. Visual verification can also be obtained on all city transit vehicles via GPS data.
Much of the information collected at the OEM—including video from camera feeds and audio from 911 calls—is merged with police data to create the Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) system. CLEAR also uses real-time information from the city’s 280 police beats, including case reports, gun registrations, mug shots, probation data, criminal histories, and arrest records. Other information is pulled in as well, such as data from license plate readers detailing more than 1,000 stolen vehicles. The system compiles arrest information from 120 police departments in Cook County, where Chicago is located, and from 450 state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Using the information, the police can create a visual map linking criminals with their haunts and known associates. For example, CLEAR can link those who perpetrate crime with the other people they were arrested with, the locations they were arrested in, and their gang factions. This helps the police build a better picture of criminal enterprises. It is especially helpful in tracking violent gangs. The system has mapped 59 gangs and 625 gang conflicts. All of this data can be accessed by one of the 3,000 computers located in police cruisers. Information, such as cease and desist orders and warrants, can be pushed out to police cars via the system. “We can get information instantaneously in seconds that previously took days,” says Jonathan Lewin, director of IT for the Chicago Police Department.

Via CLEAR, the police can identify “troubled buildings,” which are ranked according to arrests, incidents, and gang activity. Local high schools are also ranked this way.

Approximately 3,200 members of the public access the system through a portal. The public can view crime mapping statistics and incidents according to location as well as identify where sex offenders and gun offenders reside. Members of the public may supply anonymous tips through it as well. The system receives thousands of tips and community concerns each year.

CLEAR has become an integral part of policing in Chicago, according to Lewin. For example, police found a lottery ticket at the scene of a murder and wondered whether the numbers on the ticket might be relevant. Running the numbers through CLEAR, officers found the address of a known criminal, whose DNA matched that collected at the scene.

In addition to tracking crime, the system tracks the performance of officers, keeping data on use-of-force, complaints, arrests, and injuries. Each officer’s data is compared to other officers on similar beats. This data is analyzed for patterns that might indicate a problem. For example, the system tracks the ratio of complaints to arrests. “This can indicate overuse of force,” explains Lewin.

The first version of CLEAR was launched citywide in 1996, and a state version and a regional version have been unveiled since then. Also, the system is being updated as technological innovations make greater analysis possible. For example, the city is now rolling out a video analytics feature that will allow surveillance cameras to be used to help the police identify instances of loitering. A facial matching program is also near completion. It will grab still frames from video to compare against the city’s mug shot database.

Another new program is WindyGrid. Launched in May 2012, that system is designed to enhance situational awareness by gathering all spatially enabled data sources, from tweets to surveillance cameras to building permit violations to weather information. The program, which gathers data from all city departments, is designed to identify when several different incidents will collide to create a problem, such as potential crowd management issues.

Also in the works is a predictive policing program. The police began developing the program in January 2013 under a three-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Justice.

That program will use all of the currently collected data and merge it with potentially related information to predict crime. Information such as jail release dates and school holidays will be included. “The idea is to include any variable, including weather, seasonality, time of day, day of week, to identify what variables can inform crime conditions,” says Lewin. “For example, requests for city services, such as for a broken street light, might have predictive capabilities.”

Museum of Science and Industry

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was always destined for great things. It was originally constructed as the Palace of Fine Arts for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The building was part of the famed “White City,” so named because of the pale stucco exteriors and the widespread use of electric lights, which allowed patrons to visit at night. Because it was built of stronger stuff than the other buildings, it survived time and neglect.

In 1926, determined to establish a science museum in Chicago, Julius Rosenwald, chairman of Sears and Roebuck, put up $3 million to restore the building to its former glory. After a $5 million bond was issued to help with the restoration, the museum opened its doors in 1933. As the museum moves into the 21st century, it brings an attitude of civic pride and a commitment to cooperation between public and private organizations.

The largest science center in the western hemisphere, the museum now houses 35,000 artifacts, including an actual U-505 submarine from WWII. The museum has more than 14 acres of exhibits as well as theaters, restaurants, gift shops, classroom space, an auditorium, and learning labs. More than 175 million people have toured the museum since it opened, and 1.4 million visited in 2012. Of those visitors, 450,000 were students.

The museum has a total staff of 450, with 32 of those dedicated to security. Edward J. McDonald, director of facilities and operations, says that protecting the people in the building—both patrons and employees—is a key part of security’s job.

Eight contract security officers provided by AlliedBarton bolster the in-house staff’s capabilities. The officers work in three shifts with some stationed at static posts, such as entrances, while others patrol the building. An officer is assigned to oversee buses, ensuring that students get safely in and out of the facility.

Security technology is put to work as well. For example, 370 pan-tilt-zoom cameras help security watch over the building and parking areas. A small number of cameras are continuously monitored, but most footage is recorded and stored for use as needed in investigations. Cameras are monitored at an on-site command center. A duplicate, off-site command center provides redundancy. In addition, access controls protect doors; staff are issued RFID access control ID cards.

Strong public-private partnerships with local authorities further strengthen the museum’s overall security, according to McDonald. Conducting scenario training with public-sector partners helps the museum, law enforcement, and first responders prepare for any emerging threats and ensure that existing plans are still working.

Training is especially important to security programs in museum environments because museums are open to all. “[We] have such a broad spectrum of guests that come in over the year. On 52 days each year, anyone from anywhere in the state can come in for free,” says McDonald. “Also we have patrons who need special attention, from young children to the mentally challenged.”

Along with local agencies, the museum trains to meet specific threats, to comport with its emergency action plan, and to be sure that it will know how to evacuate the building. “Involving the local authorities in our training efforts helps us to become more like a neighborhood,” McDonald explains. “If you need a tool, you can borrow it from your neighbor. Also, you can determine what you need to do to be prepared. We then become an active participant in our safety and the safety of our guests.”

For example, in May the museum held a training session on recognizing and responding to a bomb in the building. An FBI special agent from the Chicago office who specializes in bombs visited the museum to train officers on recognizing and responding to suspicious packages. Before the training, the agent provided background on how such bombs work and shared information on some of the bombs he had encountered.

As a follow-up to that session, the Chicago Police Bomb Squad sent representatives to the museum in June to train security officers on how to determine whether a package is suspicious and what the police will do when called about a bomb threat. The training especially focused on backpacks because of the recent Boston bombing and because backpacks are frequently carried into the museum by visitors.

With this information in hand, security personnel then trained nonsecurity employees. It is especially critical for nonsecurity staff to know how to respond to a suspicious package before security arrives, according to McDonald. For example, staff should immediately turn off cell phones to prevent accidental detonation if it is a bomb. Staff should also be on the lookout for everyday items used in an unusual way. “The FBI agent told us that he was able to make a 25-pound bomb for training purposes and purchased all the materials from a national sporting goods store without being questioned,” explains McDonald.

The museum conducts an incident-related exercise at least once a month. The exercise changes based on threats or even weather conditions. “We go through various parts of our emergency action plan,” explains McDonald. Issues include how and when to shelter in place, what numbers employees should call for different emergencies, and the procedure for calling school groups to notify them that the museum is closed.

In addition, there are frequent evacuation drills in conjunction with first responders such as the police and fire departments. Different types of drills are conducted to simulate smoke, fire, and water emergencies.

The various drills help reinforce the museum’s evacuation plan and procedures. Floor wardens, who have been chosen and trained in advance, are responsible for evacuating staff and visitors, while security verifies that everyone has been evacuated. “There are more than 45 ways of egressing this building,” says McDonald. “We want to make sure that everyone knows the quickest way to get out.”

The floor wardens also help the disabled, using the emergency chair lifts in each of the stairwells. Floor wardens ensure that students exit the museum and gather near the bus area, where they can be rejoined with their group. In early June, security added a wrinkle by moving the buses out of the area and then evacuating the building. Even with that complication, the exercise still went smoothly. The students easily found their group. “During the drill, we had 1,600 people in the building. We evacuated the building in less than seven minutes,” says McDonald. “You can only get there if you practice.”