How the Boston Marathon Reimagined Special Ops Response


The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest marathon and one of the biggest in the USA. Learn how D4H Incident Management software was deployed in support of the Boston Marathon special operations teams, by taking a role in the execution of event safety.

The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest marathon and one of the biggest in the USA, attracting more than 500,000 spectators and more than 38,000 participants every year. Unlike other large city marathon courses that run around a loop within a single jurisdiction, it is a straight-line course that crosses eight cities and towns: Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston.

The event requires streamlined coordination among the many federal, state, and local public safety agencies, public health, emergency medical services, and the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). Since the 2013 bombing, the high-profile Boston Marathon is protected through the execution of a comprehensive, multijurisdictional, multi-disciplinary public safety plan.

Hazmat responders

The Challenge

With its colossal crowd numbers and unique course, the execution of the event safety and response operation is a complex task to manage. Ensuring that the participants and spectators are kept protected from chemical or explosive threats, it is the role of the City of Boston and Massachusetts Department of Fire Services Special Operations response teams, who must first declare the course safe, then coordinate a response to any suspicious packages or hazardous material detections.

Hazmat responder

During large-scale events, information moves fast and can arrive at the command post from multiple sources. There is a need to ensure information is timely and can be acted on fast, but also that it is recorded so it can be analyzed later. During the Marathon subject matter, experts on specific threats can be remote, but their ability to understand a situation requires them to observe a common operating picture. Roving mobile teams of hazmat technicians are the eyes on the scene, but they too must be tracked and efficiently tasked - the command post is also accountable for their safety.

The Solution & Goals

In trials with the US Federal Government, D4H software was deployed in support of the Boston Marathon special operations teams. D4H was tasked with providing a real-time command and control solution for CBRNE threats. The solution allowed decision makers from multiple agencies in the Command Post to quickly consolidate information, see live GPS positioning, coordinate assets, and act on information.

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It’s important while operating under pressure, that technology enhances the decision making of its users, rather than distract and deter them during an incident.

“Not only was the D4H interface easy to use, but we didn’t require any training to start using it effectively”

commented Special Operations Command Haz-Mat/WMD Chief Costin of Boston City.

“This is a highly effective tool that keeps a detailed log of my decisions and the information I had on-hand to make them”.

The objective was easy access to up-to-date, structured, and reliable information that would heighten situational awareness for multiple agencies in the case of a CBRNE threat. D4H Live Response provides operators with the ability to execute and collaborate on their Incident Action Plan (IAP). The D4H platform offers real-time Incident Command System (ICS) forms, multi-source timestamped major event logs, GIS mapping, GPS tracking, vehicle status boards, role assignments, and personnel accountability.

While at the event, Robin Blandford CEO of D4H Technologies observed

“Good decisions require good information. Information has never before been available in such quantity, but it rapidly loses quality and reliability over time. The speed of access to information is key during fast-moving events and D4H is a high-quality information source auto-organizing, structuring, and sharing the right information for when things go wrong”.

Products Used

D4H Incident Management

A smart real-time incident management software that enables the coordination of effective responses to any situation. The software is designed to easily create a common operating picture of an incident, communicate objectives, and collaborate on a resolution through forms, logs, maps, status boards, and more.

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About D4H

D4H Technologies is the #1 readiness & response software for emergencies and incidents worldwide, used by over 70,000 of emergency responders around the world to professionally manage their incidents, personnel, and equipment. D4H solutions are deployed in more than 30 countries, driving efficiencies within clients public safety teams, industrial facilities, and corporate crises.

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