City of Goleta officials unveiled a new tool on Tuesday that they hope will help them better respond in an emergency and work to better keep the city's residents informed.
Parked just outside the Council Chambers in the City Hall parking lot was a new communications trailer that can be activated to provide timely information during local emergencies.
The idea is that the mobile unit can be moved to various locations around the community and be used as an information center during a large-scale emergency such as a wildfire.
The trailer was designed to be an information hub, and can serve as a source for wireless Internet, ethernet, over-air live TV capabilities, cellular signal and other services.
Two 55-inch television screens are mounted on the trailer and were broadcasting video from a press conference, a map of the fire area, Twitter feeds and weather forecasts — all at the same time. The trailer also comes with support equipment such as portable restrooms that can be set up in case of emergency.
Goleta Mayor Roger Aceves briefed a small group before Tuesday's council meeting, recalling the Gap Fire in 2009.
"We were all preparing for the possibility of fire coming over the hills and reaching our city," he said.
The trailer was developed jointly by MarBorg Industries and Price Management in order to communicate information among emergency service providers and the communities they serve.
Price Management, owned by John Price, includes about 10 gasoline stations throughout the South Coast. Price's gas stations will broadcast the emergency updates from video screens at the pump. The pumps will also be powered by emergency backup generators, which can keep them running for three days.
Derek Carlson, MarBorg's business manager, also briefed the group.
Gas shortages made national news during Hurricane Sandy, but Carlson said the shortages didn't occur because of a lack of fuel, but because the pumps dispensing the fuel ran out of power.
"We're preparing for the next emergency," Aceves said.
The communications trailer was part of MarBorg's solid waste contract with the City of Goleta that the City Council signed off on in 2011 and cost about $50,000, which the company has donated.