New Tech Used in Snowstorm Response

MEDFORD, Ore. – Representatives from nine different organizations are working together more closely than ever to keep people and infrastructure safe during the winter storm.

It’s thanks to the department’s new information hub called the Tactical Operations Center.

A few deputies manning the controls throughout the day were able to track law enforcement and fire personnel in the field, watch weather patterns, and get real-time information from patrol units by mobile app.

“We’re light years ahead of where we were just months ago,” said Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters. “It’s amazing the information we’re able to move in real-time and how quick we’re able to do it.”

Now the sheriff’s office is inviting more people to the party. Pacific Power, American Red Cross, ODOT, and more have been called in to post representatives in the center.

“We’re able to coordinate resources, get the roads cleared and opened up,” said Pacific Power Regional Manager Monte Mendenhall. “We know they’re open, we’re sending crews, we’re not waiting for that type of thing. We restore service more quickly.”

As early as last winter those same agencies were coordinating by phone, meaning multiple calls to multiple different agencies.

Sheriff Winters says having them together, and receiving real-time information, will allow them to avoid sending the wrong resource to the wrong place.

“If it’s a six-inch tree that a member of our emergency services division can take out of the road, that leaves an ODOT or Jackson County Roads resource available to do the more technical stuff,” said Winters.

While this is the first time the system has been used for a snowstorm, the department is already hopeful it can save time, money, and lives.

“It will make Jackson County substantially safer than it has been in the past,” said Winters.

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