By Mike King, Emergency Call-Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team
The challenge of saving lives and protecting infrastructure is paramount on the minds of government leaders worldwide. Public safety organizations around the globe are making financial and architectural investments in next-generation solutions to replace outdated analog emergency call-taking systems, and forward-thinking executives with the vision and courage to drive change are building smart communities. Experience shows that successfully implemented initiatives begin with a core group of champions who work tirelessly to align resources and efforts with end goals.
Worldwide, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) commanders recognize that every initiative's blueprint emphasizes a hub approach that enables departments and people to collaborate on information. To become smarter, they and the organizations they serve (primarily police, fire, and emergency medical services [EMS]) must examine the workflows and processes that encourage data sharing for timely decision-making.
When emergency calls for service are received, managed, and responded to promptly, the public benefits. Esri is helping communities around the world to build geographic information system (GIS) infrastructures that complement intelligent collaboration. From data collection and creation to analysis and community engagement, ArcGIS supplies an end-to-end solution that brings GIS value and capability to the entire community.
Public safety agencies face complex and unpredictable challenges and threats. While day-to-day dangers persist, new challenges—driven by extreme events involving social unrest, public health crises, and weather—are creating an environment where missions and priorities change rapidly. Our way of communicating is evolving at a rapid pace as well, and without improved capabilities, it's difficult to extract and analyze information from virtual warehouses.
Except in cases where first responders witness emergency events, the notification of a problem is first received by one of the thousands of dispatch centers around the world, officially referred to as PSAPs. Most PSAPs rely on technology that was developed over 40 years ago, and most of these communication centers still use analog systems, which are incapable of efficiently consuming Internet Protocol (IP) information. Consequently, the workflows and approaches PSAPs are relying on are no longer adequate to secure our communities.
To meet these modern challenges, PSAPs need modern approaches, technologies, and workflows. PSAPs need tools and capabilities so that staff can understand, analyze, and adapt to ever-changing risks. Today's PSAPs and first responders need to be able to quickly identify emerging threats and needs while collaborating and unifying operations. Improving information sharing and analysis is critical to effectively disseminate intelligence to first responders, commanders, and—when appropriate—the public. GIS technology can provide smarter, more integrated approaches that result in initiatives that are powered with the right technology, data, experts, and processes.
PSAPs are primary benefactors of—and contributors to—an ecosystem of technology and user collaboration where GIS data can be leveraged to support address database management, geographic service area maintenance, and resource allocation and visualization.
Integrating the PSAP mission with community initiatives requires collaboration, situational awareness, analytics, and engagement by the key stakeholders. Using location-based insight to create hubs of innovation that support the PSAP mission and foster data-driven decision-making can improve workflows, reduce response times, and help mitigate risk.
This unique collaboration will provide stakeholders with data (including big data and real-time analytics) from across police, fire, and EMS agencies, and heightened awareness will enable them to fuse advanced analytics and live data to allocate limited resources and optimize performance. Agencies will have the ability to map, collect, and analyze data from mobile devices, and all authorized users will be able to share critical information and data, make better decisions, and share appropriate information more easily with the public, resulting in increased awareness and citizen confidence.
For more information on Esri's focus in emergency call-taking, visit go.esri.com/E911-blog.