CRANSTON, RI – When a major winter storm or hurricane is approaching or disaster strikes, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s (RIEMA) state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cranston is activated to serve as a centralized headquarters for emergency operations.  The current EOC, located on New London Avenue, has space limitations and can benefit from new technology upgrades. 

These capital improvements will soon be addressed, thanks to new federal funding secured by U.S. Senator Jack Reed and a state matching contribution for the estimated $1.1 million project.

RIEMA is the state’s lead agency for emergencies and is responsible for collaborative communications with all federal, state, and local partners, and provides real-time situational awareness and public updates.

Today, Senator Reed met with RIEMA Director Marc Pappas and RIEMA officials, toured the EOC, and announced a new $525,000 federal earmark that Reed secured in the fiscal year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations law.  Reed’s earmark will help enhance public safety by supporting renovations and integrated technology upgrades to the facility.

Improvements to Rhode Island’s EOC will include infrastructure and technology upgrades, allowing RIEMA to maximize space and efficiency while responding to a major event.  This includes enhanced phone systems, computer networks, radio access, satellite communications and teleconferencing capability, GIS mapping, video boards, sound systems, lighting and sound proofing of walls.

A new, separate space will be dedicated for a Joint Information Center (JIC), which shares official news with the media during emergencies.  This dedicated area will provide work space for reporters, who can plug in their equipment as they work to get emergency-related information and updates out to the public.

It will also fund interior facility improvements, including sound proofing, lighting, and other upgrades designed to streamline and enhance the functionality, connectivity, and security of the facility.

“This is about enhancing public safety, improving our emergency response capabilities, and ensuring RIEMA has the tools it needs to effectively respond in emergencies and assist with recovery efforts.  These new funds will be used to renovate the building, enhance RIEMA’s integrated technology and communications equipment, and create a dedicated Joint Information Center so members of the media can do their part to disseminate critical information when Rhode Islanders need it most,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.  “I salute Director Pappas and his outstanding team.  This is a smart investment that gives RIEMA the opportunity to create the flexible, adaptive, and resilient EOC it needs, with sufficient space and advanced technology and equipment.  Ultimately, it will protect the public by ensuring emergency response teams can get information sooner, solve problems quicker, and dispatch critical resources to needed areas at a faster rate.”

“We are grateful to Senator Reed for securing this federal earmark and for his ongoing support,” said RIEMA Director Marc Pappas.  “Rhode Island’s Emergency Operations Center is the heart of the state’s emergency management system. It is a crucial link among State, Local, and Federal partners, serving as a location for decision makers, various elected and appointed officials, as well as first responders, to collaborate and execute plans around a disaster.  These upgrades enhance the functionality, connectivity and security of the EOC, ultimately ensuring the safety of all Rhode Islanders.”

The current facility opened in 2006 and the last time it was significantly renovated was 2010.

In addition to the EOC, RIEMA coordinates closely with Local Emergency Operations Centers and provides immediate support and coordination to the on-scene command. When requested by local centers, the Rhode Island EOC is able to provide additional resources, expertise, and support by centralizing data and operations, creating strategy, and providing administrative support.

Renovation work on the project is expected to begin this spring and RIEMA estimates the facility updates can be concluded within a year of the start date.