Airports Efforts to Enhance Electrical Resilience

The nation's commercial service airports require continuous, reliable electricity to power airfield operations and airport facilities. FAA and airports are responsible for ensuring the resilience of airports' electrical power systems—including the ability to withstand and recover rapidly from electrical power disruptions.

GAO was asked to review major power outages at airports and steps federal agencies and airports are taking to minimize future disruptions. This report describes (1) the extent to which selected airports reported they had experienced electrical power outages since 2015, (2) actions selected airports have taken to improve the resilience of their electrical power systems, and (3) actions FAA has taken to help airports develop and maintain resilient electrical power systems.

GAO conducted semi-structured interviews with officials from 41 selected airports of varying sizes, representing 72 percent of passenger enplanements. GAO administered a follow-up survey to these 41 airports, focusing on the extent to which they had experienced electrical outages; 30 responded to the survey, representing 53 percent of total enplanements. GAO also reviewed applicable statutes and regulations and analyzed funding data to identify examples of electrical power projects. Further, GAO interviewed FAA officials and airport, academia, state government, and energy stakeholders.

A power outage can significantly disrupt an airport's operations. One 2017 outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport led to about 1,200 cancelled flights and cost an airline around $50 million.

Many of the nation's airports are enhancing their ability to withstand and rapidly recover from power disruptions. They're improving their electrical infrastructure, including installing backup generators or solar panels. Some airports are also considering installing microgrids—systems that independently generate, distribute, and store power. The FAA is offering new and expanded grant programs to help fund these projects.

Twenty-four of the 30 commercial service airports that responded to GAO's survey and interviews reported experiencing a total of 321 electrical power outages—i.e., an unplanned loss of power lasting 5 minutes or longer—from 2015 through 2022. Eleven of these airports reported having six or more outages over this 8 year period. Airports reported that these outages affected a range of airport operations and equipment (see table). Not all responding airports were able to provide detailed information about their outages, and some provided estimates about affected activities.

Selected airports reported taking several actions to improve the electrical power resilience of their airports, including (1) conducting electrical infrastructure assessments, (2) undertaking projects to improve electrical infrastructure, and (3) installing equipment to generate additional backup power. For example, 40 of the 41 airports GAO interviewed reported planning or completing an infrastructure project to increase electrical power resilience. Of these, four airports reported installing microgrids. Such microgrid systems are capable of independently generating, distributing, and storing power.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is administering new and expanded grant programs and issuing guidance to support airports' electrical resilience efforts. For example:

- Airport Improvement Program funding eligibility was expanded to include the Energy Supply, Redundancy, and Microgrids Program projects, which may include certain electrical power resilience projects.

- The new Airport Terminal Program provides funding for airport terminal development projects, including those that may strengthen resilience.

- FAA issued program guidance and conducted airport outreach to help increase airports' awareness of available federal funding for resilience projects.

EPA Updates Power Resilience Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities

EPA has published an updated version of the Power Resilience Guide, which provides water and wastewater utilities with information and strategies to help strengthen relationships with their electric providers and increase their resilience to power outages.

The guide has been updated to include new information in its “Energy Efficiency,” “Renewable Energy and Distributed Energy Resources,” and “Funding” sections. The document is divided into eight areas in which water sector utilities can increase power resilience, which include communication, power assessments, emergency generators, fuel, energy efficiency, renewable energy and microgrids, black sky planning, and funding. Additionally, the updated guide includes new case studies that demonstrate creative power resilience strategies (e.g., implementation of microgrids at utilities) and planning considerations for both short (e.g., 2-3 days) and long (e.g., several weeks) duration power outages.

Access the updated guide below or read more about power resilience at EPA.

NERC files report evaluating the CIP-014 Reliability Standard with FERC

The Commission directed NERC to evaluate whether the physical security protection requirements in NERC’s Reliability Standards are adequate to address the risks associated with physical attacks on BPS Facilities. Specifically, FERC directed NERC to conduct a study evaluating the following: (1) the adequacy of the Applicability criteria set forth in the Physical Security Reliability Standard; (2) the adequacy of the required risk assessment set forth in the Physical Security Reliability Standard; and (3) whether a minimum level of physical security protections should be required for all BPS substations and their associated primary control centers.

The purpose of the CIP-014 Reliability Standard is to “identify and protect Transmission stations and Transmission substations, and their associated primary control centers, that if rendered inoperable or damaged as a result of a physical attack could result in instability, uncontrolled separation, or Cascading within an Interconnection.”2 The standard requires applicable Transmission Owners (“TOs”) to perform periodic risk assessments of their applicable transmission stations and transmission substations (hereinafter collectively referred to as “substations”) to identify which of their applicable substations are “critical” to BPS reliability (which, for purposes of CIP-014, is whether instability, uncontrolled separation, or Cascading would result if the substation were damaged or rendered inoperable). The TO must then perform an evaluation of the potential physical security threats and vulnerabilities of a physical attack to each of their “critical” substations and develop and implement a documented physical security plan to address those threats and vulnerabilities. Additionally, for each primary control center that operationally controls an identified substation, the applicable Transmission Operator (“TOP”) must perform an evaluation of the potential physical security threats and vulnerabilities of a physical attack to that control center and develop and implement a documented physical security plan to address those threats and vulnerabilities.

As discussed within this report, NERC finds that the objective of CIP-014 appropriately focuses limited industry resources on risks to the reliable operation of the BPS associated with physical security incidents at the most critical facilities. Based on studies using available data, NERC finds that the CIP-014 Applicability criteria is meeting that objective and is broad enough to capture the subset of applicable facilities that TOs should identify as “critical” pursuant to the risks assessment mandated by Requirement R1. NERC did not find evidence that an expansion of the Applicability criteria would identify additional substations that would qualify as “critical” substations under the CIP- 014 Requirement R1 risk assessment. Accordingly, at this time, NERC is not recommending expansion of the CIP-014 Applicability criteria.

NERC acknowledges, however, that supplementary data3 could show that additional substation configurations would warrant assessment under CIP-014. Accordingly, NERC plans to continue evaluating the adequacy of the Applicability criteria in meeting the objective of CIP-014. Following issuance of this report, NERC will work with FERC staff to hold a technical conference to, among other things, identify the type of substation configurations that should be studied to determine whether any additional substations should be included in the Applicability criteria. The technical conference would also help establish data needs for conducting those studies

NERC finds, however, that the language in Requirement R1 of CIP-014 should be refined to ensure that entities conduct effective risk assessments of their applicable substations. Information from ERO Enterprise Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program (“CMEP”) activities indicates that while the overall objective of the CIP-014 Requirement R1 risk assessment is sound, there are inconsistent approaches to performing the risk assessment. The ERO Enterprise observed that, in certain instances, registered entities failed to provide sufficient technical studies or justification for study decisions resulting in noncompliance. NERC finds that the inconsistent approach to performing the risk assessment is largely due to a lack of specificity in the requirement language as to the nature and parameters of the risk assessment. Accordingly, NERC will initiate a Reliability Standards development project to evaluate changes to CIP-014 to provide additional clarity on the risk assessment.

As discussed further below, the objective of the Reliability Standards development project would be to:
• Clarify the risk assessment methods for studying instability, uncontrolled separation, and Cascading; such as the expectations of dynamic studies to evaluate for instability.
• Clarify the case(s) used for the assessment to be tailored to the Requirement R1 in-service window and correct any discrepancies between the study period, frequency of study, and the base case a TO uses.
• Clarify the documentation, posting, and usage of known criteria to identify instability, uncontrolled separation, or Cascading as part of the risk assessment. The criteria should also include defining “inoperable” or “damaged” substations such that the intent of the risk assessment is clear.
• Clarify the risk assessment to account for adjacent substations of differing ownership, and substations within line-of-sight to each other.

Finally, while NERC is not recommending an expansion of the CIP-014 Applicability criteria at this time, NERC finds that, given the increase in physical security attacks on BPS substations, there is a need to evaluate additional reliability, resiliency, and security measures designed to mitigate the risks associated with those physical security attacks. As discussed further below, establishing a uniform, bright line set of minimum physical security protections for all (or even an additional subset of) BPS substations and associated primary controls centers, is unlikely to be an effective approach to mitigating physical security risks and their potential impacts on the reliable operation of the BPS. While a uniform set of minimum level of protections could potentially prevent some forms of physical security threats, NERC finds that such a pursuit lacks the application of a risk-based approach to expending industry resources, fails to provide for a methodical approach necessary to address site-specific threats or objectives (as expected using a design basis threat process), and does not consider the need for other reliability, resiliency, and security measures to mitigate the impact of a physical attack. These combined measures provide increased operational and planning capability as well as improved effectiveness of local network restoration. NERC finds that this more holistic approach will provide greater long-term flexibility and minimize the impacts of physical attacks on BPS reliability.


Full report can be found here >>

IOM joins Making Cities Resilient 2030 as supporting entity

The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has joined the MCR2030 initiative as a supporting entity. MCR2030 is UNDRR’s flagship program, building on the achievement of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign that began in 2010. It welcomes cities, local governments, and all parties who wish to support cities along the resilience roadmap.

The IOM Regional Office for the MENA region has developed the Urban Diagnostic Toolkit to map gaps in migrants’ integration in urban settings, aimed at increasing urban resilience of migrants, refugees, displaced persons, host societies and local governments by strengthening migrants’ social cohesion in the spatial, institutional, economic, climate and resilience city systems.

Increasingly, IOM and UNDRR collaborate across a range of workstreams from high level policy engagement related to the Sendai Framework for DRR’s Midterm Review process, the Global Platform for DRR and Regional DRR Platforms, and more recently on the Early Warning for All Initiative, COP27 and the Center of Excellence for Disaster and Climate Resilience, which IOM recently joined as a member of the Steering Committee. Partnership also extends to technical cooperation on the implementation of the annual workplan of the Senior Leadership Group for DRR for Resilience inclusive of work to mainstream DRR into humanitarian action. IOM is also supporting UNDRR’s leadership on the development and roll out of Risk Information Exchange and the creation of a second-generation disaster loss accounting platform to replace DesInventar. The latter was recently dialogued under the leadership of UNDRR-UNDP-WMO at the Bonn Technical Expert Forum meeting in late November.

This is the beginning of a new collaboration between the two UN agencies. UNDRR warmly welcomes the new MCR partner to work jointly on paving the road for increasing migrants’ resilience in urban contexts.

MRC2030 is a unique cross-stakeholder initiative for improving local resilience through advocacy, sharing knowledge and experiences, establishing mutually reinforcing city-to-city learning networks, injecting technical expertise, connecting multiple layers of government, and building partnerships. Through delivering a clear roadmap to urban resilience, providing tools, access to knowledge, and monitoring and reporting tools, MCR2030 will support cities on their journey to reduce risk and build resilience.

WMO issues guidelines on coastal flooding early warning systems

New WMO Guidelines on the Implementation of a Coastal Inundation Forecasting Early Warning System offer solid and practical advice for countries, donors and experts seeking to set up early warning systems against an increasing hazard.

The guidelines are a contribution to the UN Early Warnings for All initiative and reflect the high priority needs of small island developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries that are particularly vulnerable to these coastal hazards.

“The severity of the impacts of disasters, especially on coastal communities, is well known and documented. A contributing factor is the increasing intensity and frequency of meteorological and oceanographical hazards caused by climate change, including sea-level rise, which can seriously affect SIDS and other coastal nations,” state the guidelines.

“It is critical to recognize that coastal inundation can result from single or multiple hazards, and that it is being exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, especially associated with sea-level rise."

“Coastal inundation events are an increasing threat to the lives and livelihoods of people living in low-lying, populated coastal areas. Furthermore, the issues for most countries that have vulnerable coastlines are the increasing level of development for fishing, tourism and infrastructure, and the sustainability of their communities,” it says.

The new guidelines were presented during a side event during WMO’s Commission for Weather, Climate, Water and Related Environmental Services and Applications (SERCOM), attended by more than 140 participants from all over the globe, including the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Africa.

WMO is grateful to the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Initiative and the Korean Meteorological Administration for financial support.

These guidelines are based on the successful implementation of demonstration systems in four countries between 2009 and 2019 through the Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project, which included a special focus on Pacific islands. They also incorporate key principles of WMO's Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) and the Severe Weather Forecast Programme.

The aim is to be a “one-stop” shop that countries can follow to prepare and implement their own coastal inundation forecasting early warning system. It provides a straightforward 10 step process with templates featuring policy, management and technical processes that countries or regions can use to build their own early warning system, from vision through to “go-live” implementation. As such information is not always readily available in many countries, these guidelines have concentrated on these features in developing and building a system, including necessary information for sponsors and advice on the resources necessary for success.

The Guidelines are also a registered activity of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

ASEAN Framework on anticipatory action in disaster management

The ASEAN Framework on Anticipatory Action in Disaster Management provides guidance for defining and contextualising anticipatory action at the regional level with some considerations for its implementation by Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This Framework outlines three building blocks of anticipatory action and proposes a Plan of Action for 2021–2025 with the primary aim to streamline anticipatory action in disaster risk management (DRM) through joint regional efforts. The implementation of the action plan will strengthen the ASEAN’s vision of building disaster-resilient nations and communities.

It aims to help advance implementation of anticipatory actions in the ASEAN region while supporting ASEAN in spearheading a common language, objectives and ambition for the global community working on anticipatory action. It represents a landmark commitment from ASEAN to move the anticipatory action agenda forward in the subregion in support of a climate-resilient future. It should be seen as a vehicle to accelerate regional policies and support ASEAN in implementing global frameworks, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An anticipatory approach can achieve these commitments by addressing the humanitarian–development nexus and gaps between disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, maximising climate science and disaster risk finance.

Burying short sections of power lines could drastically reduce hurricanes' impact on coastal residents

Princeton researchers funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation investigated the risk of this compound hazard occurring in the future under a business-as-usual climate scenario, using Harris County, Texas, as one example. They estimated that the risk of a hurricane-blackout-heat wave lasting more than five days in a 20-year span would increase 23 times by the end of the century.

But there is good news: Strategically burying just 5% of power lines — specifically those near main distribution points — would almost halve the number of affected residents.

"The results of this work, part of NSF's Coastlines and People Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub, show the value of convergence science approaches for developing actionable solutions to society's major challenges, such as the increasing frequency of storm events," says Rita Teutonico, director of NSF's CoPe program.

Heat waves are among the deadliest types of weather events and can become even more dangerous when regions that rely on air conditioning lose power. Historically, a heat wave following a hurricane has been rare because the risk of extreme heat usually passes before the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season in late summer. As global temperatures rise, however, heat waves are expected to occur more often and hurricanes are likely to become more common and more severe, increasing the odds of hurricane-blackout-heat wave events.

"Hurricane Laura in 2020 and Hurricane Ida in 2021 both had heat waves following them after they destroyed the power distribution network," said Ning Lin, a civil and environmental engineer who led the study. "For this compound hazard, the risk has been increasing, and it is now happening."

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, Lin and co-authors looked at the risks associated with the compound hazard and how infrastructure changes could mitigate the potentially deadly effects. They combined projections of how often and when hurricanes and heat waves would strike in the future with estimates of how quickly power could be restored in areas with outages after a major storm.

The team chose Harris County — the home of Houston — as their model county because it has the highest population density of any city on the Gulf Coast. Hurricanes Harvey and Ike both walloped Houston, causing an estimated 10% of residents to lose power.

The team also considered power grid improvements that would reduce the impact of a hurricane-blackout-heat wave for residents. Burying 5% of wires near the roots of the distribution network would reduce the expected percentage of residents without power from 18.2% to 11.3%.

"Mostly, our current practice is randomly burying lines," Lin said. "By burying lines more strategically, we can be more efficient and more effective at reducing the risk."

The importance of early warning systems in disaster risk reduction

It is not enough for an early warning system to correctly identify an incoming hazard, it must also ensure that the populations and sectors that are at risk can receive the alert, understand it, and most importantly, act on it.

Disasters, increasingly frequent and intense, have become a major issue requiring urgent action. In 2021, 432 catastrophic events took place, incrementing the average of 357 annual catastrophic events recorded in 2001-2020. Only last year, 101.8 million people were affected worldwide, and the economic losses amounted to 252.1 billion US dollars.

The impacts of a disaster are often unequally distributed, affecting disproportionately the most vulnerable. These events cause a disruption in the economy and livelihoods of people, producing dramatic socio-economic downturns that hamper short-term recovery and long-term development. On this basis, the promotion of resilience to face all kinds of shocks and stresses is considered a key element for the global development agenda.

In line with this perspective, and in accordance with its mandate, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has focused on building resilience through the promotion of employment and decent work.

In order to achieve this, the ILO works with its tripartite constituents – governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations – to develop a response to disasters that can answer immediate needs, but also deploy a long-term vision to build resilience for risk management through employment-centred measures. These include skills development, job creation through employment-intensive investments, enterprise support and business continuity management, among others.

This year, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction focuses on early warning systems, a fundamental element to decrease the destructive impacts of a disaster. An effective early warning is capable of saving many lives and reducing damage by 30% if activated 24 hours before the event. However, today, one-third of the world’s population, mainly in the least developed countries, is still not covered by early warning systems.

The purpose of early warning systems is mitigating the risk produced by disasters, but these risks are compounded by the socio-economic vulnerability of the population exposed to the hazards. In this context, early warning systems must be inclusive and sensitive to the different sources of vulnerability. As indicated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) , these systems must be people-centred, end-to-end, and multi-hazard.

Early warning systems play a significant role in the world of work. By disseminating timely and accurate information regarding disaster risk, they enable preparedness action as well as a rapid response from workers, employers, and national or local authorities, and can therefore prevent human and economic losses in the workplace. For instance, farmers, pastoralists, fishers, and foresters are among the most-at-risk communities to disasters. Moreover, early warning systems can also play a crucial role in decent work, as part of the occupational health and safety standards in disaster-prone countries.

Early warning systems are essential to prepare and respond effectively in the short term, corresponding to the first stages of disaster management. Moreover, the implementation of such systems can also contribute to building resilience, as enhancing preparedness strengthens the capacity to recover rapidly, and reduces vulnerability.

Public Health Emergencies: Data Management Challenges Impact National Response

Public health emergencies evolve quickly, but public health entities lack the ability to share new data and potentially life-saving information in real-time—undermining the nation's ability to respond quickly.

To address this, the federal government must overcome three major challenges—specifically, the lack of:

- Common standards for collecting data (e.g., patient characteristics)
- "Interoperability" (meaning not all data systems work together)
- Public health IT infrastructure (the hardware, software, networks, and policies that would enable the reporting and sharing of data)

This snapshot discusses our related work and recommendations.

Public health emergencies evolve quickly, but public health entities lack the ability to share new data and potentially life-saving information in near real-time. To address this, the federal government must overcome 3 major challenges in how it manages public health data. GAO has made a number of recommendations to help address these challenges. However, many of these recommendations have not been implemented.
The Big Picture

Longstanding challenges in the federal government’s management of public health data undermine the nation’s ability to quickly respond to public health emergencies like COVID-19 and monkeypox. These challenges include the lack of:

- common data standards—requirements for public health entitles to collect certain data elements, such as patient characteristics (e.g., name, sex, and race) and clinical information (e.g., diagnosis and test results) in a specific way;
- interoperability—the ability of data collection systems to exchange information with and process information from other systems; and
- public health IT infrastructure—the computer software, hardware, networks, and policies that enable public health entities to report and retrieve data and information.

Over 15 years ago, federal law mandated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) establish a national public health situational awareness network with a standardized data format. This network was intended to provide secure, near real-time information to facilitate early detection of and rapid response to infectious diseases.

However, the federal government still lacks this needed network and has not yet overcome the challenges identified in previous GAO reviews. Having near real-time access to these data could significantly improve our nation’s preparedness for public health emergencies and potentially save lives.

Without the network, federal, state, and local health departments, hospitals, and laboratories are left without the ability to easily share health information in real-time to respond effectively to diseases.

GAO’s prior work identified three broad challenges to public health data management and recommended actions for improvement.

1. Common Data Standards

To ensure that information can be consistently reported, compared, and analyzed across jurisdictions, public health entities need a standardized data format. Due to the lack of common data standards, information reported by states about COVID-19 case counts was inconsistent. This in turn complicated the ability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make comparisons. Public health representatives also noted challenges in collecting complete demographic data. This made it difficult to identify trends in COVID-19 vaccinations and the number of doses administered. Although CDC had intended to implement data standards, its strategic plan did not articulate specific actions, roles, responsibilities, and time frames for doing so.

- Re recommended that HHS establish an expert committee for data collection and reporting standards by engaging with stakeholders (e.g., health care professionals from public and private sectors). This committee should review and inform the alignment of ongoing data collection and reporting standards related to key health indicators.
- Recommended that CDC define specific action steps and time frames for its data modernization efforts.

2. Interoperability among Public Health IT Systems

The inability to easily exchange information across data collection and other data systems creates barriers to data sharing and additional burdens on entities that collect and transmit data. During the early stages of COVID-19, the lack of IT system interoperability caused health officials and their key stakeholders (e.g., hospitals) to manually input data into multiple systems. In addition, some state health departments could not directly exchange information with CDC via an IT system. This led to longer time frames for CDC to receive the data they needed to make decisions on the COVID-19 response.

- Recommended that, as part of planning for the public health situational awareness network, HHS should ensure the plan includes how standards for interoperability will be used.

3. Lack of a Public Health IT Infrastructure

The timeliness and completeness of information that is shared during public health emergencies can be impeded by the absence of a public health IT infrastructure. During the early stages of COVID-19, some states had to manually collect, process, and transfer data from one place to another. For example, a state official described having to fax documents, make copies, and physically transport relevant documents. The official noted by establishing a public health IT infrastructure, such as the network HHS was mandated to create, errors would be reduced. To help mitigate challenges in data management for COVID-19, HHS launched the HHS Protect platform in April 2020. However, we reported that public health and state organizations raised questions about the completeness and accuracy of some of the data.

- Recommended that HHS prioritize the development of the network by, in part, establishing specific near-term and long-term actions that can be completed to show progress.
- Recommended that HHS identify an office to oversee the development of the network.
- Recommended that HHS identify and document information-sharing challenges and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fastest-growing port in Texas just got even safer

Mariners sailing in and around Port Freeport — the fastest-growing port in Texas — have something to celebrate.

The seaport, located outside of Houston, is now fitted with a NOAA system that improves safe and efficient marine navigation. The technology is part of a nationwide network called Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, or PORTSⓇ.

Freeport PORTS is the 38th system in this network of precision marine navigation sensors. The integrated series of sensors track oceanographic and meteorological conditions as they unfold around the port. This will greatly increase the navigation safety of vessels entering and exiting Port Freeport.

“Precision navigation is critical to our nation’s data-driven blue economy and helps our environment,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “The real-time information tracked by NOAA allows ships to move safely within U.S. waterways to make operations more efficient and lower fuel consumption, which also lowers carbon emissions.”

More than 30 million tons of cargo moved through Port Freeport in 2019, which supported more than 279,000 jobs nationwide, for a total economic impact of $149 billion. The new system will allow all mariners to have access to real-time water level, currents and meteorological information, helping them to better plan vessel transits and prevent accidents.

Studies prove that the NOAA PORTS program reduces shipping collisions, groundings, injuries and property damage. When a new PORTS is designed, local stakeholders determine the sensor types and location requirements to support their safety and efficiency decisions.

“This new system, and the others like them around the country, reduce ship accidents by more than 50%, and allow for larger ships to get in and out of seaports and reduce traffic delays,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “PORTS can also provide real-time data as conditions rapidly change, giving our coastal communities time to prepare and respond.”

Newly installed current meters collect and transmit real-time current observations in waterways where those conditions can change quickly and over small distances. One current meter that is mounted on a buoy is installed along the port entrance channel to capture critical cross currents data outside of the Surfside Jetty. A second current meter is installed on a pier in the intercoastal waterway near the Surfside Bridge to collect data that will indicate the strength of currents near an important turning point for vessels coming in and out of Freeport Harbor.

The new system also integrates real-time water level and meteorological information from the NOAA Freeport Harbor National Water Level Observation Network station. That equipment is installed on a specialized single platform structure which is common in the Gulf of Mexico. Wind speed and directional data will help users plan for safe pilot boarding and ship passages during adverse weather.

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