The coming of the Republican National Convention is affecting life across the bay area in large and small ways.
Pinellas County, for example, plans to black out its 911 Twitter account and one of the pages on its website for the week of the RNC. The page shows the locations of fire and emergency medical calls across Pinellas.
It's generally visible at pinellascounty.org under the "Top Searches" heading as "911 Active Calls." It shows a map with teardrop-shaped icons pointing to the locations of fire and EMS calls. It also has a list that gives the type and number of fire and EMS vehicles, whether the call is medical, fire or something else, and a specific address in the case of fires. The information is in real time and refreshes itself as new calls are made and closed ones drop off. In some cases, it notes that a police vehicle is also at a scene.
Temporarily shutting the page down is a matter of safety and discouraging anyone who might want to do mischief in Pinellas while the Republicans are in the area, said Carl Harness, assistant county administrator.
"It's just another precaution," Harness said, that "may curtail some crazy person out there from doing something."
He added that some people will come "specifically to wreak havoc and cause trouble."
Sally Bishop, the county's director of emergency management, said she suggested the idea after several meetings with officials from various groups who discussed the problems that might come with protesters and others who might want to disrupt the convention. In some cases, Bishop said, "these folks" make false calls to 911 to lure first responders away so they will not be readily available for a real emergency.
Eliminating the map, Harness said, "makes it less easy to track units" and target specific locations.
"That's the first I've heard of it. I don't see a purpose to it," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said of blacking out the web page. "If somebody had asked my opinion on it, I would have said it's not necessary."
Gualtieri has a similar service on his website, pcsoweb.com. His active call list includes the time of the complaint, the problem, the address and the units that have responded. Like the 911 site, it constantly refreshes itself.
It will remain active during the RNC, the sheriff said.
"I don't know why we would do otherwise," Gualtieri said. "These are just normal calls."
As a law enforcement officer, Gualtieri said he has more information than the civilians who run the Pinellas County administration. Nothing Gualtieri said he has heard indicates that having that type of information easily available will endanger the public or officers or anything else. Barring that, he said, it's a matter of transparency and letting taxpayers know what's happening in their community.
The county officials are "not privy to the stuff we know," Gualtieri said. "I'll leave it at that."