When C40 City Rio de Janeiro took stock of risks and challenges — from extreme weather, to traffic congestion, to upcoming mega-events such as Rio+20, it decided to create the Operations Center in the service of Cariocas (the citizens of Rio de Janeiro). Built in record time and located in the central zone of the city, Rio City Hall’s Operations Center was launched in December 2010, and remains one of the most cutting-edge centers of its kind in the world.
Integration of information in real-time is the main function of the Operations Center, allowing decisions to be based on the best data, and carried out across all City departments. In this way, highly-skilled operators are able to anticipate natural disasters such as landslides, and alert affected communities; as well as to improve the response time to any sudden occurrence in the city, such as accidents and fires.
Every day, approximately 600 employees (divided into three shifts) work with representatives from 30 agencies responsible for issues such as traffic, public transport, weather forecasting, civil defense. The Center never closes, monitoring the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Control Room includes the largest screen in Latin America, consisting of 80 46-inch monitors that display the city’s everyday routine via cameras and other technological systems. Indeed, the Operations Center receives images from more than 800 City Hall cameras, the Police and other agencies.
A benchmark in global technology, the Center also contains a modern internal georeference system pertaining to the main services provided by the City. “The major traffic issues and the city works are some of the items we map. The operator simply looks at the screen to identify anything unusual in the routine of the city”, explains Savio Franco, the Executive Chief of Operations.
Another important feature of the Operations Center is the Crisis Room. During emergencies, Mayor Eduardo Paes gathers his secretaries and other relevant individuals to discuss immediate solutions to problems. Today, the Operations Center is one of the first public facilities to be concluded ahead of time in the run up to Rio+20 , the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games — three of the many mega-events that the City of Rio de Janeiro will host in the coming years.
Natural disasters are a daily concern at the Operations Center, in light of more extreme weather experienced in recent years. To combat this, Rio City Hall purchased a weather radar that covers a 250 kilometer area around the city, making Rio the only city in Brazil to own such advanced equipment. Meteorologists also count on an advanced mathematical model developed exclusively by IBM for the city of Rio de Janeiro. Daily weather briefings are gathered by an expert meteorological team at the Control Room and all relevant information collected at the Operations Center is immediately broadcast to Rio’s citizens via the media (who are present in a press area with a view of the Control Room) and social networks 24 hours a day.
Based on this forecast, the Operations Center can also trigger sirens installed by the City Hall in areas at risk from landslides, allowing the residents who live in those areas to find shelter at municipal support locations during the rains. As such, the Operations Center is not only responsible for the day-to-day running of the city, but also for saving lives.
To learn more about the Operations Center, please watch this YouTube video.