Alaska's homeland security czar works on communication

Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2002

FAIRBANKS - Alaska Homeland Security Commissioner Drew Dix says his office is trying to develop techniques to condense cumbersome intelligence data into information people throughout the state can quickly and easily interpret.

"There's lots of information that's being collected across the country and it's being sent to us in raw data form," Dix told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "What we're trying to do is provide people with useful one-liners of what they need to know."

As an example of information overload, Dix said his office could receive detailed information about a port in the Virgin Islands receiving a shipment of stolen license plates. The information would include how the shipment was discovered, why authorities believe the plates are stolen and countless other details.

Dix said so many details could prevent law enforcement agencies and weigh-station attendants from understanding what they really need to know: Be on the lookout for the license plates.

The efforts to improve the state's interpretation of intelligence information is just one example of new anti-terrorism efforts instituted in Alaska since last Sept. 11.

A year ago, Dix said, terrorism preparation was lumped into the Alaska Department of Emergency Services' plans for other disasters. Since then, Dix's position and his office have been created. This week, the governor added a Homeland Security Task Force. The committee will meet for the first time next month and hold monthly meetings after that.

Dix, who will lead the group, said the committee's goal is to develop methods to identify and prevent terrorist threats.

"Alaska is very fortunate because there's already been a response system in place," he said.

Dix added Alaska is the only state with a toll-free terrorism hotline. That number, (866) 770-7223, is for people to call if they have general terrorism questions or want to report suspicious activities.

"This doesn't replace 911 and reporting real-time emergencies," Dix said.

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