Hurricane season is here - do you know what to do if you need to evacuate? Houston Transtar has updated their technology to help make sure residents in Southeast Texas are able to get the information they need to escape a storm.
Dinah Massie, spokesperson for Houston Transtar, gave me a tour of the newest technology available to the public. She answers my questions:
KW - What happens at Transtar headquarters during a hurricane?
DM - [Transtar] is the emergency operations center for the Harris County Office for Homeland Security and Emergency Management. If it's a hurricane, it's a different set of players in this room than if it is a plant explosion. Houston transtar is the headquarters for coordinating evacuations.
KW - What new technology is available to help disseminate information to the public?
DM - This wall behind me here is a single panel that we can pop up of the National Weather Service. One of the most exciting things we have done is the technology we use to help people evacuate all the way down I-45 to Dallas.
KW - Please tell us how the cameras help with evacuation.
DM - Well we have now 840 cameras in our system. Those along the evacuation routes, people can pull up our cameras on the website and see a still photograph, and that will give them an idea of what traffic is doing.
KW - Here on the floor of Transtar, different agencies have desks where they can have access to the camera network on Houston area highways. How closely are these cameras monitored?
DM - We have someone in this room 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, always monitoring traffic. This is one of TxDOT's consoles here on the floor and you can actually see where they type in those electronic messages that you see on the electronic billboards on the highway. There's an example of one on that top screen. There are 186 of these dynamic message screens throughout the region.
KW - How can drivers access this information from home?
DM - Just log onto www.houstontranstar.org.
You can always log onto www.khou.com and go to the Beat the Traffic Blog for the very latest information.