Public Works launches new, first of its kind, Mobile Department Operations Center

Public Works launches new, first of its kind, Mobile Department Operations Center

Public Works is ready to assist public safety efforts in the event of a disaster, both human made and natural. With the new, first of its kind, Mobile Department Operations Center (MDOC) now online, the department is more prepared than ever. The "MDOC" brings an entirely off-the-grid, solar-powered mobile office to the City's fleet. In the event that City facilities are rendered unsafe after an earthquake, flooding, or other disaster, the MDOC will be deployed to ensure Public Works is able to fulfill its responsibilities. Public Works is required to assess damage to the City’s infrastructure, develop action plans for repairs, re-open roadways, support Public Safety with recovery operations, and manage debris cleanup throughout the entire city. 

In 2014, Public Works Public Services began evaluating how the Municipal Service Center (“MSC”) could operate its Operations Center in the event of an earthquake or other disasters. During this process, the following questions needed to be addressed: Would the MSC and other city facilities be impacted to the point of not being able to operate post-disaster? What contingency plan would need to be added into the department’s Earthquake Response Plan? How quickly could the department respond, using alternative facilities? 

The Department concluded that it could develop a portable, office-type vehicle to accomplish these goals. This led to developing the concept of a Mobile Department Operation Center (MDOC).

Back in 2015, the concept of an entirely off-the-grid/ solar-powered MDOC was proposed to the Director of Public Works and the Fleet Review Committee.  In 2018, the Department was able to purchase the trailer and up-fit it with all the necessary equipment to operate during a disaster. The MDOC is currently the only non-military, fully self-contained, solar-powered vehicle of its type in the State of California.

Purpose and Mission

  • Mobile Department Operations Center and field Incident Command Post for Palo Alto Public Works Department
  • Supports public safety – a joint project with Office of Emergency Services
  • Back-up office space during short term displacement of city buildings during a regional disaster
  • Command Post function expanded with tents and vehicles to support staff and missions
  • Maximize off-grid renewable power to create an “always on” and sustainable platform

Mutual Aid Resource

  • The only fully self-contained solar powered vehicle of this type in the state.
  • Could be deployed across the region in support of our San Francisquito Creek Mutual Aid partners
  • Mobilized routinely for operations, events, exercises, and public demonstrations
Vehicle Facts
  • 100 % solar powered
  • 4 kWp of PV panels on roof                                   
  • 8 kWh lithium battery
  • 35 foot tall pneumatic mast
  • 24 foot trailer
  • HVAC: Heating and air conditioning

Onboard Networks

  • 4G LTE data connection
  • Direct wire and fiber connection
  • WI-FI
  • Multi-band microwave link

Audio/Video Systems

  • Avaya IP-based telephone system
  • Workstations for 12 staff members


  • Radios covering 700-800 MHZ frequencies


Last Updated: August 20, 2019