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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany


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Base-wide mass notification system growing

By Art Powell | | May 6, 2010

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The mass notification system aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, known as Giant Voice, is available for base officials to communicate with base personnel should the need arise.

Pole-mounted speakers are located at various areas on the installation with the intent of being available to provide base-wide coverage. When additional funding is available, more speaker towers will be added to the existing system.

“We can also communicate with specific buildings, if necessary, and we did that during the recent Antiterrorism Exercise,” said Micheal Bernard, physical security specialist, Marine Corps Police Department, Public Safety Division, MCLB Albany. “It lets us get information out to the base much quicker than we could if police cars drove around the base spreading the word.”

Breaking news situations other than physical attack, such as severe weather, can be better managed through the use of Giant Voice.

“We’ve already prepared messages that fit severe weather situations and they’re available at the touch of a computer key,” Bernard said. “Or we can broadcast a live, scripted announcement.”

The system is tested weekly and has proven its value when flooding on the base in the spring of 2009 prompted its use under real-world conditions. Some installations use their mass notification system to play colors, but that isn’t the practice at MCLB Albany.

Any Giant Voice message will be preceded by a tone which can be heard at a greater distance than the voice message which follows it.

“If base personnel hear a tone, but aren’t close enough to hear the message, they’ll know something is happening and they need to find out what’s going on,” Bernard said.

The goal is to have enough speakers so both the tone and message can be heard base-wide.

“There’s pretty good coverage on the base now, we recently tested the base housing area and the coverage there is satisfactory,” said Larry Dillard, physical security supervisor, MCPD.

Most military bases already have Giant Voice capability, but the coverage areas are being increased at most installations.

The last Giant Voice upgrade at MCLB Albany saw three new towers added along with a software upgrade. Current construction projects, including Building 3700 and the new Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, will receive mass notification information via an integrated fire alarm system.

“The system is wireless, and we have boosters at select areas that increase the wireless signal’s strength to ensure the message is received at towers that are in remote areas of the base,” said Dillard. “There is redundancy built into the system as well as the ability to operate Giant Voice if the primary control site is compromised.”

The reach of Giant Voice aboard the installation is described as ‘strategic’ by law enforcement officials who manage it.

“As we reviewed our security measures here, we came to the conclusion that Giant Voice is a strategic capability because we can immediately notify all base personnel about an event, man-made or natural, that would require measures to be taken in-place by all base personnel on short notice,” said Randy Jack, police chief, MCPD.

Base security officials want to have Giant Voice fully capable by the end of the year.


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