New Technologies Could Help in Evacuations

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It certainly doesn't feel like an exercise. Realtime information on screen detailing everything from a shortage of beds to registered sex offenders in shelters. But this is a test...only a test, but certainly one serving as a refresher course for Brazos County, and allowing any fine-tuning to be done.

"We're not talking that we need to go back to the council," said College Station Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Hilton. "They're just really simple things to make life easier within the environment here in the EOC."

As part of the drills, Brazos County is the only one in the entire state that's testing a new system called TrackEvac, which would allow the state to monitor where evacuees go to during the time of crisis, and all it takes is your drivers license. You simply swipe it at whatever location you go to, whatever shelter you enter in to, and that brings up your personal information. It basically serves as your check-in to make sure the state and family members know where you are and if you're safe.

If the state goes ahead and buys the technology, developer Jacob Smith said, "we'll be deployed statewide so that the operations centers in every county and at the city and state level can have an up-to-date, real-time analysis of the evacuees they have in their shelters."

Combine that with streaming updates from each shelter on needs and availability, and you've got a digital world of information where practice makes perfect.

"We just need to get more people trained on it," said Brazos County Emergency Management Coordinator Chuck Frazier. "It's a really good tool for getting everyone up-to-date on what everybody else is doing, and I think that's one of the big things we're going to accomplish in these four days."

Also as part of the hurricane exercise, TXDoT had personnel on major highways Wednesday practicing contraflowing those roads to direct evacuees fleeing from the south.