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


Communication among Agencies

In preparation for the NSSE, a detailed communications plan was developed.  It was available during the event so that all staff knew the chain of command and protocols for contacting partners, including flow charts for communication along the entire chain.  A multi-agency dispatch ensured that event resources, including personnel and equipment, were in place as needed.

The event used a variety of communications tools, including radios, cell phones, and landlines.  Other jurisdictions helped out with radio technical support personnel and equipment, although part of the communications plan included ensuring the interoperability of equipment.  As previously mentioned, the TMC’s CCTV video feeds were shared throughout the agencies with other centers and the USSS.  The USSS had access to control the TMC’s video cameras at their request.  When this occurred, the cameras operated under their rules.  A video conferencing initiative was initially explored to improve the communication among agencies, but agencies found implementation too complex and time consuming for their staff.  Ultimately, resources were moved to higher priority concerns before full implementation was achieved.  During the event, agencies’ staff agreed that they did not miss the video conferencing.

Communication to the Public

In anticipation of the NSSE, the City of Denver conducted community outreach through a number of public meetings.  The mayor envisioned community-wide participation to share information about the impact of the NSSE on the public. 

The magnitude of the NSSE required the closure of some roads.  In preparation, the city published expected road closures as part of the NSSE.  The city held open forums in anticipation of the NSSE to offer the public a chance to voice opinions regarding which roads were closed.  Publicity for road closures usually started as speculation within the press, which the city then later confirmed and publicized.  The city strove to be open with the public regarding potential closures.  Citizens were told to expect closures and delays at certain times and places.  As the start of the 2008 DNC neared, some road closures began a few days before the actual NSSE, although most were only closed on an as-needed basis.  Months of public outreach ensured efficient diversion of traffic, including diverting large trucks to roads on the outskirts of the city and local traffic to arterial roadways.  Constant updates to media outlets ensured that information reached customers quickly.

A number of protest groups planned to hold demonstrations during the NSSE.  To allow the groups to exercise their civil liberties safely without jeopardizing the security of the NSSE, the City of Denver held a series of conversations with the groups to coordinate protest event locations and routes.  Police and the USSS, through dedicated liaison officers, facilitated this process, including conducting outreach and issuing permits.  The process worked well for both the city and the protestors.  The protestors were able to ensure that they could efficiently and peacefully get their message out.  Very quickly, police were able to separate these peaceful protestors from those who might want to incite violence.  During the NSSE, police and the DPW responded quickly to update protest routes when necessary, clear the route, ensure the safety of the participants, and maintain security.

Use of ITS Equipment/Advanced Technology

ITS equipment was used to support the NSSE.  As a major metropolitan area, the City of Denver has already deployed a fair amount of ITS equipment to the region:

  • CCTV – The Denver metropolitan region has hundreds of cameras.  Both the Denver and CDOT TMC install and own cameras independently, but share their use so that operators can seamlessly use both systems.  The TMCs operate these cameras, but other agencies including the Denver police and emergency operations can view video feeds.  Throughout the NSSE, very few roadway incidents occurred that were not viewable in real time with a video feed.
  • DMS – Signs were used to convey driving information to the traveling public, including road closures and detours.  Two types of DMS were used:
    • Permanent signs exist on major highways and roadways.  The CDOT TMC controls the messages on signs on the interstates; the Denver TMC controls the messages on signs on arterials.  However, other agencies including emergency management personnel are encouraged to recommend relevant messages.
    • Portable DMS were deployed as needed to all areas.  Field staff programmed messages.
  • Traffic Signal Timing – The City of Denver’s traffic engineers updated the signal timings as needed, especially on detour roads and event routes.
  • Traffic Count Data – Traffic count data was used before and after the NSSE to improve signal timings and plan for detours.

Coordination and Decision Making

Various agencies and organizations were responsible for organizing the entire NSSE.  Federal, state, and local agencies responsible for ensuring security and coordinating transportation worked closely with the host committee as needed.  Overall, there was good communication and a spirit of collaboration among agencies of all levels of government.  While the USSS was the lead on anything security related, they were open to discussion on most aspects of the security operation.

During the planning process, the various committees and agencies collaborated as needed.  Members of the transportation committee participated in other committees.  This gave the group the opportunity to weigh in on other issues.  All of the committees leveraged their existing relationships with other members to facilitate the coordination of events.  Figure 4-3 shows the organizational structure of the Emergency Operations team.  Transportation and traffic issues were encompassed by “Public Works,” since the DPW has primary responsibility in this area.

Figure 4-3: Emergency Operations Organizational Structure

Organization Chart

The executive steering committee, in which the host committee was represented, made final decisions regarding the event including the decision to move the location of the event’s final speech to the much bigger INVESCO Field.  Political officials conducted much of the high-level planning.  Nonetheless, these officials encouraged an open dialogue.

After-Action Report

The Denver Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security developed an after-action report.  The report contains information on planning and operations activities, the individuals involved, communications and information sharing, and coordination among agencies.  A section of the report includes details regarding the DPW’s transportation activities, including strengths and areas for improvement.


May 2011
Publication #FHWA-HOP-11-012