Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

2.2 Statistics, Locations, Jurisdictions

Each type of center manages a distinctive footprint in terms of size, geographic area, population served, and physical characteristics. This section defines the census and geographic distribution of each center and categorizes the types and jurisdictions of the various centers.

2.2.1 TMCs

TMCs are regional information management centers that gather and maintain transportation-related data. Across the United States, over 100 TMCs currently leverage their ITS resources to monitor, inform, and control drivers in a localized region. Each center has unique applications, resources, size, and functionality. State departments of transportation (DOTs), county and city governments, or other municipalities, often collaborating with other agencies and each center, can fund and operate such centers.

The TMC footprint can be categorized primarily by urban or rural geographies. A variety of sources identified at least 85 TMCS as operating in metropolitan areas. In 2004, there were 50 additional TMCs providing a range of transportation-related services in statewide/rural capacity.[11] Table 2-4 defines the distinctions in these types of TMCs. It is also important to note that TMCs can be virtual in nature.

Table 2-4: Urban vs. Rural TMCs
Urban Urban TMCs often focus on freeways and traffic signal management and possibly transit operations integration, with their key function revolving around the detection, response, and management of traffic incidents to keep traffic moving. They are frequently larger in size and more developed because of their substantial resources and funding. Because they have been operating longer, they have had the opportunity to establish working relationships with other agencies, including taking advantage of co-located facilities. Staff and management at urban TMCs often have specific job categories and responsibilities. Many TMCs in larger urban areas are integrating CAD and liaisons with local law enforcement to become immediately aware of police dispatches to an incident scene on a highway.
Rural Rural TMCs are often much smaller and have fewer resources accessible to them, even though they are often responsible for a wider geographic area. Without an expansive ITS infrastructure, they focus on emergency services and rural transit service. Their smaller size results in a smaller, less-specialized staff and managers.

As each region faces different transportation issues, TMCs’ mission and goals correlate to the needs of a local region. TMCs do not typically exist in more rural areas or on tribal lands due to the lack of traffic congestion and a lack of technology resources such as fiber optic networks by which to share data and information. Some states, such as New Mexico, coordinate with tribal lands on ITS projects. TMCs may serve larger geographic boundaries including cities and metropolitan areas, regions, municipalities, or States. Appendix B provides a listing of major TMCs.

2.2.2 EOCs

EOCs are the “front line” of incident response. By necessity, their reach must extend sufficiently to provide an immediate response to the affected areas within their jurisdictions. At least one EOC covers a jurisdiction, with smaller jurisdictions most likely sharing an EOC and larger jurisdictions having multiple EOCs. Tribal lands may also have EOCs that are eligible for funding through the DHS. In the case of a small or sparsely populated State, the State EOC may cover every jurisdiction (cities, counties, or other jurisdictional entities) within that State. In contrast, a densely populated State with densely populated cities may have other EOCs in addition to the State EOC.

Every jurisdiction is covered by an EOC (or a combination of EOCs) that addresses the full array of functional disciplines. For example, a small city may not have its own EOC; however, it may have a fire station that fulfills the EOC function for response to a limited type of incident (e.g., fires and similar emergencies within the jurisdiction), with other functional disciplines being covered by a shared EOC (e.g., a county, State, or regional EOC that responds to hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes across the broader jurisdiction). Table 2-5 illustrates the various types and numbers of governmental jurisdictions across the United States and its territories, commonwealths, and possessions.

Table 2-5: Governmental Jurisdictions[12]
Type Number
States 50
U.S. Territories (3), Commonwealths (2), and Possessions (6)[13] 11
Counties or County Equivalents[14] 3,141
Cities (population 25,000 or more)[15] 1,248
Other[16] (incorporated places with populations less than 25,000) 18,161
Total 22,611

EOCs fall into three general geographic footprints, as presented in Table 2-6.

Table 2-6: EOC Categories
Jurisdiction Characteristics
Local Community EOC
  • Continuously staffed and ready to respond to routine incidents affecting a limited jurisdiction (e.g., medical emergencies, fires)
  • Resources typically funded and controlled by the jurisdiction
  • Becomes a virtual component of EOCs with more extensive geographical jurisdictions when the impact of an incident extends beyond the local community (e.g., a hurricane)
State/Metropolitan EOCs
  • May be minimally staffed (e.g., a single watch officer on duty 24/7), with a surge capability when an incident warrants response
  • May directly own/control minimal resources but response involves coordinating resources typically funded and controlled by local community EOCs and/or other Federal or State entities
  • Jurisdiction is broader than that of a local community EOC, covering a densely populated or extensive geographic area
Federal EOCs
  • Watch function may be more robustly staffed than State/metropolitan EOCs, but surge capability is triggered by incidents that may impact:
    • An extensive geographic area where response requirements exceed the response capability of local community and State/metropolitan EOCs and the State provides a request for Federal resources; or
    • National emergency, including security threats or incidents
  • Funded by Federal sources, but also coordinates resources funded and controlled by local community or State/metropolitan EOCs
  • May focus on a single functional area (e.g., response tailored to nuclear incidents or to incidents causing widespread, high-impact telecommunications service outages, such as the National Communications System’s National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications within the Department of Homeland Security)
  • Jurisdiction covers the entire United States, its territories, and tribal nations

In addition to these State and local EOCs, there are also EOCs at the Federal level including the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to the National Response Framework (NRF), the NRCC is a multi-agency center that provides overall Federal response coordination for Incidents of National Significance and emergency management program implementation. In addition, the NRF envisions Federal-level EOCs being established when a large-scale incident requires the establishment of such a temporary EOC to manage the response activities.

2.2.3 FCs

Research suggests that there are significant differences among FCs and that, heretofore, there was no “one-size-fits-all” model, despite the issuance of the FC guidelines in January 2008 by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers document released in September 2008 provides supplemental guidance to the centers on standardized capabilities. As of July 2009, DHS and DOJ recognize 72 FCs nationwide, and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has deployed over 36 intelligence operations specialists to the FCs to facilitate the two-way sharing of information and intelligence and to bridge the gap in information sharing among Federal, State, local, territorial, and tribal levels of government.[17] In September 2009, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced a realignment of I&A to create a new Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office (JFC-PMO) to strengthen DHS cooperation with FCs.[18] Appendix B provides a partial list of these centers and the functions they support.

The level of Federal, State, and local participation varies from FC to FC. The jurisdiction of an FC is limited only by the State or region that it serves. Jurisdictional cooperation between State FCs or between State FCs and Regional Intelligence Centers (RICs) provides an opportunity for information sharing to a level only imagined a decade ago. RICs are defined as “multi-jurisdictional centers cooperatively developed within a logical geographical area that coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement information with other information sources to track and assess criminal and terrorist threats that are operating in or interacting with the region”.[19] Statistically, law enforcement agencies lead the day-to-day operations of most FCs. Of those law enforcement entities involved in FC operations, State police are often cited as the main organization spearheading their efforts. However, since FCs vary in location and mission, the lines that determine a lead agency are not as clear as the desire for participating agencies to be partners in their mission.   

[11] U.S. Department of Transportation, ITS Deployment Statistics, 2004, accessed 2010.

[12] U.S. Census Bureau, County and City Data Book, 2007, accessed 2010.

[13] R.G. Price, “Territories, Possessions, and Influenced Areas of the United States of America,” 2003.

[14] The primary political divisions of most States are termed “counties.” In Louisiana, these divisions are known as “parishes.” In Alaska, which has no counties, the county equivalents are the organized “boroughs” and the “census areas” that are delineated for statistical purposes by the State of Alaska and the U.S. Census Bureau. In four States (Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia), there are one or more cities that are independent of any county organization and, thus, constitute primary divisions of their States. These cities are known as “independent cities” and are treated as equivalent to counties for statistical purposes. The District of Columbia has no primary divisions, and the entire area is considered equivalent to a county for statistical purposes [County and City Data Book, 2007].

[15] The term “city” refers to incorporated places with a 2000 population of 25,000 or more [County and City Data Book, 2007]. The number of cities was obtained from the 2002 Census of Governments, Volume 1, Number 1, Government Organization, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, as provided by the National League of Cities.

[16] The number of incorporated places with a 2000 population of under 25,000 was obtained from the 2002 Census of Governments, Volume 1, Number 1, Government Organization, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, as provided by the National League of Cities, accessed 2010.

[17] See U.S. Department of Homeland Security, State and Local Fusion Centers, accessed 2010.

[18] See Testimony of Secretary Napolitano before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, "Eight Years after 9/11: Confronting the Terrorist Threat to the Homeland" (Written Testimony), September 2009, accessed 2010.

[19] Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers, September 2008.

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June 2010
Publication #FHWA-HOP-09-003