The dramatic expansion of flight restrictions is designed to avoid a repeat of the June 9 incident in which an errant transponder beacon aboard a plane carrying Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) mistakenly prompted security officials to evacuate the Capitol an hour before the memorial service for Reagan.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command will have increased air patrols over Washington by multiple jet fighters. The inability of one pair of fighters to identify the Fletcher aircraft in time contributed to the June incident.
Before, during and after the inauguration, D.C. police and U.S. Park Police helicopters will hover overhead, able to beam live images from the scene. Those images will complement the video from several hundred surveillance cameras.
The surveillance will be monitored by authorities at various command centers run by the many agencies working on security.
The main one is the Multi-Agency Coordination Center in Fairfax County, the new facility that is being used as a joint field office by the Secret Service for the inauguration. It is one example of the hundreds of millions of dollars invested by the federal government since 2001 in information technology for homeland security.
Laid out over one floor, the center is jammed with plasma television screens and other visual and information technologies, along with classified and unclassified computer networks and communications equipment, according to several federal security officials.
The Secret Service, Capitol Police and other agencies will be able to view three-dimensional maps of downtown derived from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a Department of Homeland Security official said.
"It's pretty spectacular," said Gainer, the Capitol Police chief.
"It is as big and glamorous as anything I've seen in the business," he said.
Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.