MINNEAPOLIS — The plant operations and transportation services team at Minneapolis Public Schools has built a mobile command center for use during major emergencies.
Construction of the mobile command center began in 2008, and it was completed last year. Officials said it took more than 1,600 hours to convert an older school bus into the center. It is equipped with a 32-inch flat-screen TV to provide the staff with current information on traffic and adverse weather conditions. A server maintains routing and student information, GPS and daily assignments.
The bus is also outfitted with four two-way radios and laptops, so dispatchers can maintain contact with the drivers, fleet maintenance and the management team. Two conference tables, chairs and a whiteboard at the back of the center provide an area for administrative consultation.
Officials for the district said that if or when a major catastrophe occurs at one of the schools or in an area that will prohibit the buses from successfully delivering or picking up students, they can dispatch the bus to a location and set up a command post.
“We can staff the bus with up to four dispatchers so there will be continuous radio contact from our dispatch center to the command post,” explained Pamela Blackamoore, executive director of school services. “Administrators from the district can set up meetings on the bus or outside, where we have an awning and a table and chairs. We built a storage area beneath the bus for transporting two tables and up to eight chairs.”
Blackamoore added that the district has shown the mobile command center to the Minneapolis Police Department’s SWAT department and they “were quite impressed with the accommodations and equipment on board the bus.”
“Likewise, we can set up the command center at any park or community location where families can register their children for school, particularly those who experience transportation difficulties,” she said. “We will also be using the vehicle for mutual aid between various school districts in the metropolitan area.”
To view more photos of the mobile command center, check out this photo gallery.