PORT MANATEE - The Department of Homeland Security will pay more than $95,000 in the next month to bring Port Manatee's telephone system into the modern era.
While the Port isn't still working in the age of rotary phones, it needs the upgrade as it starts a $681,000 integrated security and mass notification system. The system is an outgrowth of a Homeland Security grant program aimed at beefing up security at the nation's ports.
David St. Pierre, Port Manatee's deputy director of seaport security, said that once the phones are installed and integrated with a $125,000 mass notification system, the Port will be able to instantly send out critical and emergency information to a lists of recipients. That information could include a change to a scheduled public meeting, a change in the MARSEC security level, or a hurricane-related evacuation notice.
In the event of some sort of disaster at the Port, the phone system's functions are portable. It will run on the state's voice-over-internet protocol.
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"We can run it from anywhere," St. Pierre said.
In all, the Port will be setting up 77 new phones.
Alerts and other notifications sent on the system will reach Port employees anywhere in the world. For example, Port Executive Director Carlos Buqueras -- who has travelled to Europe and South America on Port business -- will be able to access those notifications and the Port's phone system when he is out of the country, St. Pierre said.
The phone system will be part of the state's priority telecommunications network, St. Pierre said. The system was previously with a commercial contractor.
The phone installation will be finished sometime in Feb
ruary. Sometime after that, the system will be integrated with a $250,000 network of container yard cameras, and with a $181,000 tenant cargo integration system.
When finished, the system will be able to automatically confirm that cargo shipped into the port has authorization to leave on trucks through Port gates.
The integration is expected to be finished by July, St. Pierre said.
Once finished, it will be an "integrated command and control" system.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.com.