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State of Texas

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Improve mass evacuation procedures. When more than one million people evacuated fromHurricane Katrina in August 2005 and more than 2.7 million people fled from Hurricane Rita the followingmonth, evacuation routes were gridlocked, fuel supplies drained and shelters overwhelmed. Thousands of families were separated and hundreds of pets lost or left behind. The lessons learned from these catastrophic events reshaped the way the State of Texas approached mass evacuation and amplified the need to better assist and track special needs individuals throughout the process.

Texas Special Needs Evacuation Tracking System (TX SNETS).In response to the recommendations of a state appointed special task force, the Governor’s Divisionof Emergency Management (GDEM) reached out to the private sector. An AT&T-led group of technologyproviders including Motorola, Radiant RFID and Retriever Software, worked together to create an automatedevacuee tracking system. Called TX SNETS, the system integrates Motorola handheld computers with Geographic Information System (GIS) databases with status and tracking displays, tracking software, barcode wristbands and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanners, and commercial coaches and school buses equipped with mobile Global Positioning System (GPS) units.

Simple process that registers 12,000 evacuees and pets per hour. Wristbands are scanned as evacuees board GPS equipped buses and again upon arrival at the sheltering destination, updating the information at each point and sending the data wirelessly to a centralized database maintained by the University of Texas Center for Space Research. The TX SNETS solution allows the state to monitor the evacuees’ status, keep family members and pets together, and provide information to loved ones at each stage in the evacuation process.

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