Emergency Operations Center to relocate next year

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UTPD responds to a report of a disturbance at the Union Building on March 4, 2020. Project Management and Construction Services has announced the relocation of the emergecy call center from the University Police Building to the East Campus Garage.

Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

Project Management and Construction Services will begin building a new space for the Emergency Operations Center in the East Campus Garage to put the center in line with federal design guidelines.

The center will be relocated from its current position in the University Police Building to the East Campus Garage before fall 2021, said Jill Stewart, associate director of project management. The current center does not meet emergency operation center guidelines mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency because the center is too close to high-traffic areas, such as the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, said Jimmy Johnson, assistant vice president for campus safety, in an email. Johnson also said the University Police Building does not have enough space to meet the guidelines. 

The center currently houses 26 employees who develop and implement strategies for emergencies, such as natural disasters. The new center will include Campus Safety staff and offices, which oversees the emergency center, and be away from high traffic areas. According to a press release from Financial and Administrative Services, the new center will have the capacity for 60 people. 

 

“There are about 25 or 26 different community partners that the University works with in addition to our own campus folks,” Stewart said. “We anticipate being able to about double that.” 

The project will cost $5 million and will begin toward the end of the year, Stewart said. She said the project should be completed within 17 months. 

The new location will have 17,000 square feet to accommodate for expansion and additional emergency partners when needed, Johnson said. 

“The current operation center is … smaller,” Stewart said. “(The new center will) have the capability for supporting more people and more technology that’s needed.”

Since the current center can be difficult to access during times of emergency, the move will put the distance recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency between the center and large venues, Johnson said. Austin and Texas both have their respective emergency centers away from busy areas, he said. 

The new center will be housed along with Campus Safety offices, which manages emergency functions for the University, Johnson said.

The relocation of the center will also free space in the University Police Building that will be adapted as needed in the future by the UT Police Department, Johnson said.     

Stewart said when the East Campus Garage was built, space was left for use by future occupants. Now, the new location will be built into this space on the ground floor, Stewart said. 

The garage will also ensure parking for employees of Campus Safety and the Emergency Operations Center, Johnson said.

Stewart said there should not be a need to block off any road or part of the garage during construction, but there may be temporary closures.