New York, NY - Bloomberg's Emergency Command Center Like the Man Himself
New York, NY - Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York is a man who knows his way around a floor plan. While Mr. Bloomberg is justly famous for his open-air office called the bullpen (and his 12,500 square feet of personal living space), his least-known private domain is probably the subterranean chamber in the basement of City Hall.
It is called the Situation Room and was modeled, slightly, after its sibling in the White House - a high-tech communications center to which the mayor descends to be in touch with various officials during emergencies. Should - God forbid - a bomb go off or another airplane go into the river, that’s where you can find him, huddled with his cabinet members and glued to CNN.
Like the man himself, the Situation Room is small and tastefully accoutered: a wooden conference table, polished to a gleam, commands its center; a dozen chairs for top advisers are arranged around the table, with lesser spots for staff members pushed against the wall. It has, unsurprisingly, the efficient air of an elegant corporate boardroom.
As befits a media mogul, there are microphones for teleconferencing embedded in the ceiling, a Crestron control panel that can summon anything from Google Earth to Bronx News 12 on the televisions, and a supersecure encrypted telephone on which one imagines Hizzoner shouting, “Get me the president on the horn.”
“The whole point is to gather multiple streams of information but not be in the way,” said Edward Skyler, the deputy mayor for operations and the brains behind the room. Mr. Bloomberg, he suggested, does not like leaving City Hall in an emergency, aware of his potential for causing a commotion at the barricades.
This trait - not that it was ever said out loud - puts him in direct opposition to Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Bloomberg’s onetime patron and predecessor at City Hall.
Mr. Giuliani, of course, was pilloried for building his own outsize emergency post, at 7 World Trade Center, eventually destroyed in the attack of 9/11. It was a bulletproof bunker so apocalyptically equipped with food, water and a gas-proof ventilation system that people started calling it “the Nut Shell.”
The comparisons are apt. The center built by Mr. Giuliani, a lifelong public servant, cost $15 million; the one by Mr. Bloomberg, a master of finance, was only $2.5 million. Mr. Giuliani had a sprawling, monarchical vision for his bunker: 46,000 square feet with room to accommodate 50 city, state and federal agencies. Mr. Bloomberg’s plan was less grand: not only is his room smaller, if he wishes to talk with the F.B.I. or the C.I.A., he simply makes a call.
The greatest difference, though, is probably in security, from which certain psychological conclusions can be drawn. Mr. Giuliani’s room was hardened to withstand bombs and natural disasters; Mr. Bloomberg’s room contains no special fortifications.
Mr. Skyler, wise to the ways of politics, never breathed a word about the differences. By his lights, the bunker - anybody’s bunker - is a necessity in New York. “It’s the big city,” he said. “Stuff happens.”
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