by justin strawser

COAL TOWNSHIP - A company that has worked with the federal government is one of the leading options Northumberland County is considering to provide a life safety management system in the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.

The Information Science Consultants "is one company we are looking at for cutting edge security technology," explained Kathy Jeremiah, an employee in the county planning department.

"They are a company who we would like to and are proposing to do the security of the park," she said.

The company would install wireless sensors through the 6,000 acres of county-owned land in Zerbe, Coal, West Cameron, East Cameron and Mount Carmel townships. The sensors would be able to tell the difference between noises that would come from the park, according to Andy Young, director of emerging technologies.

"It would be able to tell the difference between a chain saw, a motorcycle, a truck or a generator," said Young.

The system has the technology to adapt and learn other ambient noises, determining what is normal and what is not.

If something is out of place, the sensors can triangulate the disturbance and alert park officials, police authorities or emergency personnel.

With the system, the park officials would be able to determine whether people are where they are supposed to be and whether the correct entrances and trails are being used.

"It's very effective. It has worked well in the Middle East," said Young.

At a public meeting earlier this week, Young described the technology as a way to provide riders with the ability to feel comfortable yet still experience the thrill of being outdoors.

"It's an unintrusive system that is invisible unless needed," he said Monday.

The company, based in Greenville, N.C., is a defense contractor that provides information technology solutions to federal, state and local governments.

Its primary work spans from training individuals to use specific software to training military, such as the Haitian Coast Guard, to use new vehicles and equipment following natural disasters. The company has also spearheaded an initiative to train soldiers in motorcycle and ATV safety.

Young used a gunshot at the Pentagon as an example. Early last week, police say gunfire from a high-velocity rifle shattered two windows but caused no injuries at the Pentagon. Their system locked the building down in four minutes.

Young and CEO Byron Van Epps presented their company Tuesday night as part of the second public meeting regarding the park, formerly called the "Northumberland County Off-Highway Vehicle Park" and the "Anthracite Outdoor Recreation Area."

The proposed plan offers opportunities for all types of motorized and non-motorized vehicle use and will encompass 35 parcels of county-owned land.

Before the meeting last week, the steering committee of the park held a first responder meeting for local emergency services. At the meeting, Young spoke briefly about the technology his firm offers.

"There was nothing but positive responses," he said.

The company also offers a system that helps local police departments communicate.

"After talking to the state police, they are open to improving their communications even if the park isn't there," said Young. "They are looking to be more efficient. The 911 folks are looking as well."

The company is currently researching grant opportunities for the county.

Apart from being a good neighbor, Young said the park offers his company a "very safe playground" in which to expand its business and test new technologies.

The area is home to hard workers and college graduates who may be looking for web-based technology careers, he added.

His firm has been attracted, too, because of its close proximity to Interstate 81, he said, noting that robotic technology is East Coast-based.

"The park offers a unique feature to test robots that would go into hostile environments (such as natural disasters)," said Young.