7-state alliance to deal with disasters, security

October 22, 2005|By WILLIAM PATALON III | WILLIAM PATALON III,SUN REPORTER

Maryland will announce Monday the formation of the All Hazards Consortium, an alliance of seven states and the District of Columbia that's been created to identify and solve homeland-security and natural-disaster issues faced by the region, state officials confirmed yesterday.

The not-for-profit organization will bring together state and local government agencies, private-sector companies, universities, and civic and charitable organizations from the Mid-Atlantic region, organizers said.

By sharing strategies and coordinating planning, the consortium's members believe the states will be better able to respond to natural disasters or security issues. It could also increase business opportunities for companies, officials said.

The Maryland Technology Development Corp. will manage the organization, said Philip A. Singerman, its executive director.

"We believe this is critical," said Dennis R. Schrader, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s homeland security director.

Since the problems that the states want solved "are very different from those of the feds ... and since most of the homeland security work in the future is going to be performed at the state level, we knew we needed to [deal with these realities] without creating a whole new [government] bureaucracy," he said.

The consortium is being financed with $75,000 in seed money from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Over time, it expects to develop other financial support.

In addition to Maryland and the District of Columbia, members include Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The consortium is to be announced in advance of the Mid-Atlantic All Hazards Forum, a symposium and trade show scheduled for the Baltimore Convention Center Tuesday through Thursday.

The consortium could potentially mean added business as firms gain a better understanding of what products and services are needed, said Mark Komisky, chief executive officer of Bluefire Security Technologies, a Baltimore maker of security products for wireless communications devices.

"If I'm developing a product for Maryland, and I find out [by participating in the consortium] that Delaware and Pennsylvania are likely to be interested, too, the company will be much more likely to invest in the development of a product," Komisky said.

bill.patalon@baltsun.com

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