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Counter Drug—Managing the Opioid Epidemic—Part Two of an Eight-Part Safe Communities Blog Series

By Carl Walter, National Security and Fusion Center Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Recent global events have shed light on the complex, interrelated worlds of public safety and national security. Civil unrest, crime, natural disasters, and widespread public health threats all reflect the heightened need for coordinated prevention activities and effective response capabilities. Geospatial technology is uniquely positioned as the technical platform to spearhead this coordination—including when the threat is a public health crisis like the ongoing opioid epidemic.


The opioid crisis is happening in every community and affecting every demographic. The hallmark of a safe community is having organizations use geographic information system (GIS) technology as a foundation for multiagency, multijurisdictional collaboration. Geography plays a role in managing any community emergency. While the opioid epidemic presents unique challenges, GIS technology enables governments to understand the who, where, when, and why in real time, potentially saving the lives of countless Americans.


Counterdrug agencies have a common goal of disrupting the market for illegal drugs by arresting and dismantling those involved in drug trafficking and related money laundering activities. Recently, drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Opioid abuse is a major contributor to this epidemic and now requires governments to rethink their drug enforcement strategies—making sure they better align with public health strategies—to save lives. What's more troubling is that, in the face of this public health crisis, prescriptions for opioids have reached an all-time high.


Creating tools in the field that enable real-time mapping of overdose incidents while protecting sensitive personal identifiers is a strategy worth exploring. These tools must allow first responders in the field a simple way to identify the location of an overdose, input basic information about the event, and submit that data in real time to an enterprise geographic information system. Once received, data can be leveraged using dashboards, Esri Story Maps apps, and other Web GIS tools so trends can be identified and information can be shared with decision-makers, relevant stakeholders, and even the public. A geocentric approach to managing this data in real time will allow officials to make lifesaving decisions with the goal of preventing further overdose cases.


The Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, the Department of Homeland Security Geospatial Management Office (GMO), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are utilizing GIS to coordinate their drug-fighting and information sharing efforts. The integration of local law enforcement, health agencies, and communities allows them to improve their response to opioid overdoses by proactively identifying and monitoring indicators and warnings and sharing authoritative data in near real time (see,


Discover how GIS can help your community battle the opioid epidemic. Join us for our upcoming webinar on June 21 to explore the strategy of creating tools in the field to enable real-time mapping of overdose incidents while protecting sensitive personal identifiers.

Wednesday, June 21 | 9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. (PDT)

Register Now

By Mike King, Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew bore down on the southeastern USA. State and local communities suffered billions of dollars in damage and loss in the storm that prompted the President of the United States, Attorney General and many others to travel to the region to offer physical and moral support.


For several weeks, the city of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and communities nearby endured hurricane-influenced challenges that closed a large portion of Interstate 95 and caused massive flooding, requiring more than 80 water rescues in Fayetteville alone. The demand for help was so great that diving and water-rescue personnel from New York (who happened to be attending training in the region) were authorized to assist in the rescue efforts.


To effectively coordinate these rescue efforts and provide overall operational understanding, the City of Fayetteville relied on the Bradshaw Consulting Services PSAP Monitor solution, an informational geographic information system (GIS) mapping dashboard with visualization and analytic capabilities powered by the ArcGIS platform.



By providing agency-wide access to PSAP Monitor, including access to noncity departments providing support through mutual aid, field officers coordinated and communicated effectively with the command center. Flood zones, evacuation areas, roadblocks, and asset locations were disseminated to first responders via intelligent, interactive, and collaborative maps in mobile units and on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.


Chris Harvey, PSAP Monitor product manager, stated, “Fayetteville call centers and incident commanders quickly shared citizen requests for assistance by incorporating interactive maps with the calls coming into the communications center. These maps, along with PSAP Monitor's intrinsic analytic capabilities, were shared with first responders in real time.”


Fayetteville officers were able to share the real-time information with secret service and other VIP protection personnel who were responsible for the safety of President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Vice President hopeful Mike Pence and others through secure, web-based links to PSAP Monitor. This information was used to track motorcades and establish security perimeters as needed.


Esri congratulates the City of Fayetteville and our partner, Bradshaw Consulting Services, for creating a collaborative, intelligent way for first responders to more effectively serve the community during a crisis.


For more information, go to or email the author at • Visit Esri at

By Carl Walter, National Security Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


All security issues have one thing in common—location.


Global events routinely shed light on the complex, interrelated worlds of safety and security. Civil unrest, crime, natural disasters, and widespread public health threats all reflect the heightened need for coordinated prevention activities and response capabilities. Intelligence fusion centers are uniquely positioned to spearhead this coordination.


Fusion centers have been a growing practice since 9/11. They are embedded in most local, state, federal, military, and corporate organizations worldwide. These centers are tasked with collecting, analyzing, and sharing crime, disaster, and threat-related information throughout all levels of government and with the private sector and the public. Fusion centers also provide support during critical incidents and planned, high-risk special events.


To support many missions, fusion center technical solutions must be able to fuse foundational, incident, dynamic, and intelligence data. Integrating data from multiple data sources and multiple agencies with advanced maps and spatial analysis can only be accomplished through the effective use of geographic information system (GIS) technology.


Esri's new Safe Communities initiative is focused on helping organizations rapidly set up GIS for shared situational awareness. This initiative supports fusion center efforts to use GIS as a foundation for preventing crime and protecting lives, property, and critical infrastructure.


This is the first blog of an eight-part series. These blogs will outline an expanded approach to using GIS for information fusion, operations, and analysis that supports safe communities. This process-based approach goes beyond using GIS to support common operating pictures (COPs) for visualization and moves toward leveraging GIS as a system of insight that supports the entire intelligence life cycle. Geospatial frameworks enable interconnectivity between people, processes, and data. With this approach, agencies with a national security mission can

  • Collect and integrate information for rapid analysis to identify threat patterns, trends, and relationships.
  • Create repeatable and shareable information and models.
  • Reuse information and services across systems and jurisdictions.
  • Improve risk, threat, and vulnerability assessments to safeguard communities and critical infrastructure.
  • Facilitate better emergency planning, response, mitigation, and recovery efforts.
  • Provide enhanced dissemination and knowledge capture.
  • Evolve the common operational picture to a common operational platform.


GIS is a complete system that goes beyond powerful visualizations. It provides the ability to organize information, as well as analyze and understand trends and protection priorities in new ways. GIS also supports streamlined data dissemination. It is an effective tool for both internal and external communication.


Integrating and geotagging structured and unstructured data, including sensor, imagery, and video data, empowers users to fully analyze and exploit that information and create actionable information out of raw data. One GIS platform supports a fusion center's many missions.


Perhaps most importantly, GIS provides a common language and reference system for multiple disciplines—including law enforcement, emergency management, intelligence, public health, and defense. It empowers stakeholders to collaborate and make data-driven decisions.


Join us for our subsequent blogs as we tackle a series of questions and community challenges that stand in the way of realizing safer communities.


By John Beck, Law Enforcement Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Drug overdose deaths in the United States continue to mount—having tripled since 1999. There were 33,091 opioid-related deaths in 2015; that's 90 Americans every day.1 The data shows that there are multiple causes for the statistics' jump. In 2012, medical care providers wrote 250 million opioid prescriptions, more than enough to give a bottle of pills to every American.2 Four out of five heroin addicts were introduced to opioids through prescription painkillers.3 Compounding the problem is the fact that today's street heroin is increasingly being cut with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug that is from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.4


Those who have lost loved ones can post memories and a photo of friends or family members to this online interactive map and database.


This epidemic is showing no signs of slowing, and it is taking a terrible toll on American families. But beyond the personal toll, the burden this crisis is putting on our communities is immense. First responders and health care providers are overwhelmed. Federal, state, and local agencies are searching for ways to get ahead of the crisis, but it's a complicated problem. Having multiple stakeholders means that interagency cooperation is paramount to achieving meaningful results, and probably the single best path lies in data analysis and data sharing. By gaining an understanding of the data, local agencies can start to own the problem and take meaningful action to save lives and reduce the impact on our communities.


Just as our first responders and health care providers are on the front line of the epidemic, they may also be best positioned to drive change. Not only are they the first to assist at the scene of a possible overdose, they also encounter drug users in the community and at medical facilities on a daily basis. Police will have drug incident, crime, and arrest reports and data from field interviews. Police will also have firsthand knowledge about the locations of illegal drug markets and where associated crime is happening in the community. Health and human services will have valuable data that can help community stakeholders understand the problem. Key data can include information about the number of prescriptions; where they are written; and when, how many, and where overdoses occur.


Finally, it is important to know where appropriate community resources (treatment facilities, naloxone dispensaries, prescription drop-off locations, etc.) are located. The operative term in these datasets is where. Any analysis of opioid data is going to be made more effective by looking at location and the spatial relationships of the various datasets. For example, a spike in the number of overdoses might seem unrelated until the data is visualized spatially to reveal clusters of drug activity. Field collection of this type of data can even become an early warning system for a possible outbreak of overdoses (related to a bad batch of street heroin or the often deadly counterfeit-prescription pills containing fentanyl). In turn, developing field intelligence can drive decision-making and resource allocation (such as assigning extra personnel, boosting naloxone stores, and improving the distribution of other treatment services).


This map shows locations of drug overdose deaths in Broward County, Florida in 2016.


But once the data has been gathered and analyzed, what are the next steps? Change can't happen without the involvement of other community stakeholders, starting with elected officials and including local businesses, community activists, and organizations. Through community engagement, strategic opioid abuse prevention initiatives are obtainable. Esri has identified four key areas where a good location-based strategy can help stakeholders achieve results: improving education, providing access to treatment, ensuring effective response, and supporting successful prevention. Here's how to get started.



Community awareness is the foundation of any opioid abuse prevention strategy. The first question might be, does your community even recognize that there is a problem? Improve awareness by sharing data about the problem, including overdose mortality data, local spatial and demographic trends, and reports on how your community compares to national trends. Give context to your data by sharing information via story maps that educate and inform the public. Finally, engage your citizens as strategic partners by promoting interactive online and mobile tip-reporting apps that encourage crowdsourced problem solving.



Prompt care for overdose victims and access to treatment facilities can save lives. Collecting data about health care resources and combining it with a good analysis of overdose trends and locations can help communities prioritize and plan for new treatment facility locations. Use spatial analysis to determine where the greatest need is, which communities may be underserved, and where opioid problems are likely to occur in the future. Dig even deeper by doing a road network and treatment facility analysis and comparing these to hot spots of overdoses to gain a complete picture. Use dashboards to monitor overdose activity and hospital bed availability and manage treatment resources.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides tools for mapping opioid prescribing rates.



Good data analysis can lead to improved response from police and other first responders by helping them prioritize where to conduct law enforcement activities. Data analysis can also be used to generate crucial intelligence surrounding hot spots of overdoses and other types of drug activity. By looking at historic and current data spatially, predictions can be made about when and where the next breakout may occur. Data and analysis can be pushed out to mobile apps that will show personnel what activity is occurring nearby and enable them to collect field data that can then be shared with the operations center in real time. By adding proximity information about resources and the closest treatment facilities, workers will have better access to the tools they need to do their jobs.


This Operation Medicine Cabinet map helps share information about prescription drug drop-off locations in Oakland County, Michigan.



The final piece of any successful opioid abuse prevention strategy is the reduction of opiate availability in the community. Again, this starts by generating awareness in the community and among stakeholders as to the dangers of prescription painkillers and targeting illegal drug markets that are trafficking in opioids and heroin. A good start is to get unused pain medications out of medicine cabinets and safely disposed of. Prescription drop-off programs can help, but they need to be easy to use and readily available. Maps and analysis can help provide optimal locations for prescription drop boxes. Overprescribed opioids and long-term use for chronic pain management can lead to abuse and addiction. Raising providers' awareness about their role in reducing overdose-related deaths is also important. Providing data and analysis about the issue in the community can help health professionals better understand the enormity of the problem. Finally, this data can help disrupt illegal drug markets by providing law enforcement with key locational intelligence before the drugs hit the streets. Spatial analysis can also be a valuable tool to help police understand criminal networks and the relationship between drugs and crime. Real-time predictive analytics and field mobility apps can help officers plan, coordinate, and respond quickly to developing intelligence about illegal activity.


Getting Started

Incorporating spatial analysis into your overall opioid abuse prevention strategy begins with the data. Collecting and integrating data from multiple stakeholders will take some cooperation. The need for good partnerships and information-sharing practices becomes even greater when trying to extract crucial opioid-related information from many disparate systems. When done right, the resultant data and analysis can reap immediate benefits. But agencies also need to be aware of the privacy implications of sharing opioid data. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) protects personal information and biometric and property data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects all personal and health-related information about patients. Privacy protection standards need to be accounted for and met when sharing any opioid-related data.

Once all the related data has been gathered and correlated, the analysis can begin, and you probably already have the geographic information system (GIS) technology you need to get started. The ArcGIS platform is essential to supporting your opioid reduction strategy. Key stakeholders are already using ArcGIS to store, manage, location enable, and analyze their data, but ArcGIS also provides contextual tools for sharing and exploring data as well as engaging community partners. Spatial analysis provides the foundation for informed decision-making and can help clarify the problem, providing information including the spatial distribution of overdoses, the relationship between opiates and crime, predicted hot spots of activity, and the best locations and routes for resources. Esri's tools go beyond mapping and visualization with real-time capabilities that accelerate response, dashboards that improve operational awareness, mobile apps that allow you easily share and collect data from the field, and engagement apps that help you educate and inform the community. Learn more about how Esri supports the war to end addiction at



  1. Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). "Opioid Painkiller Prescribing—Where You Live Makes a Difference." Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at
  3. Jones, C. M. "Heroin Use and Heroin Use Risk Behaviors among Nonmedical Users of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers—United States, 2002–2004 and 2008–2010." Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013 September 1; 132(1-2):95-100. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.01.007. E-publication date 2013 February 12.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016). "Fentanyl." Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

By Mike King, Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Recently, while preparing some breakout sessions for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Western Regional Conference in Southern California, I had the opportunity to sit with Lawrie Jordan, the director of imagery and remote sensing at Esri. My challenge to Jordan was to help the conference participants understand how geographic information system (GIS) technology has changed in recent years and how today's imagery impacts accurate location information.


I found myself captivated as I listened to Jordan simplifying the complex nature of in-vehicle navigation. Speaking in simple terms, he helped me understand the complexity of GIS and the navigation process. He used terminology I understood and artfully painted a picture in my mind that made it possible to comprehend the myriad of processes involved in navigating from one place to another.


In what he termed "the illusion of simplicity," Jordan said the following:


"Mike, think of your car's navigation system—it knows where you are, and when you tell it where you want to go, it simply takes you there. If you get lost or don't follow its directions, it will growl at you for a moment, recalculate a new route, and provide you with updated directions to safely get you to your destination. The benefit is that we are almost never lost. We simply hit the device's home button, and it will direct us home.


"What we don't see, fortunately, are the technologies that make this happen. They include four of the most complicated technologies ever invented. A constellation of orbiting satellites resides thousands of miles above us in space. Each satellite is triangulating its location with other satellites at a rate of a thousand times per second. While doing this, the satellites are communicating with your car, and while this is happening, the earth continues to turn. The satellites are moving, and your vehicle is traveling at a variable rate of speed on city streets, highways, or backcountry dirt roads. These roadways are a series of topologically vectored networks that have a geodatabase attached to them, telling us important information like where the restaurants and gas stations are located.


"Luckily for us, this all works behind the scenes, and we don't have to wrestle with the device for answers—we simply enjoy the benefit without having to struggle with the technology."


Using a navigation system is meant to be simple. At Esri, we like to say that the future belongs to the simple and quick.


As public safety agencies move closer to next-generation 911 and begin embracing IP-based technologies, GIS will become even more important. Everything is associated with a physical location on a map. Sensor datasets found in vehicle locations, weather, crowdsourcing media, traffic patterns, and more, have become readily available through what we now call the Internet of Things (IoT). Albert Einstein once said, "If I can't see it, I can't understand it." GIS provides powerful tools to analyze, interpret, and share results for better decision-making and is helping government leaders answer important questions.


As I was leaving Jordan's office, he remarked, "all of this information is bringing geography to life. GIS is migrating data from the static, two-dimensional world of the past into a living, dynamic, active, understandable, and motion-driven future. 3D capabilities are revolutionizing GIS, and we are seeing an entirely new chapter open. What we're witnessing is the reinvention of geography itself."


Esri understands how powerful the illusion of simplicity is, and our scientists are working tirelessly in pioneering ArcGIS, the world's most powerful mapping and analytics software. To learn more about how GIS benefits public safety and the emergency call-taking industry, go to


Join Esri at the APCO Western Regional Conference in Ontario, California, to be held April 10–13, at the Ontario Convention Center, where a GIS track for next-generation 911 will be featured. Esri customers get a $25 discount off the registration fee by entering the promo code Esri. Learn more at

By Jeff Dulin, Assistant Director, IAFC Research Center


The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) association representing the leaders of the nation's fire, rescue, and emergency medical services. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for fire and emergency service leaders to exchange ideas, develop professionally, and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.


The IAFC has developed a partnership with Esri, a global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) technology, to create the National Public Safety GIS Platform. This online site is for data and situational awareness sharing. The IAFC realized that not all fire and emergency service providers had access to quality GIS tools or data. Through the partnership with Esri, the IAFC is building an online portal for those agencies to collect, share, and then view their data. In addition, the data will become part of national datasets to be used for regional and national responses.


Phase one of this three-phase project was the development of the National GIS Viewer to display relevant datasets that support planning, preparation, response, and recovery efforts. This viewer is also being used to support the ongoing development of datasets. Through the IAFC's online portal, the viewer serves as an open site where users can view the data and make situational awareness decisions. The IAFC is committed to offering this capability and makes it available, without charge, to anyone who registers for an account.


Phase two will be the updating and development of datasets that are of local or national importance. The IAFC was awarded the stewardship of the Fire Department Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data (HIFLD) by the Department of Homeland Security. This dataset is the baseline data for all fire departments and fire stations in the nation. Beginning spring 2017, the IAFC will begin an outreach to update and verify this data and provide a mechanism to maintain the most current data. Through an Esri application, fire department officials will be able to update their data and thus provide the most current information available to all who use the HIFLD sets.


A second part of phase two will involve the collection of local datasets by individual fire and emergency services agencies. The IAFC, in partnership with Esri, has secured a large number of Esri named user licenses to loan out to fire departments on a temporary basis. This will allow them to collect data valuable to national-level datasets. Along with information gathered through existing GIS layers, this collection will support the development of the first national datasets of emergency response data viewable in one location.


Phase three will be the development of an updated Fire Mutual Aid System. In 2008, in response to Hurricane Katrina, the IAFC developed the system that allowed them to move fire resources intrastate as well as interstate. The current project is to update the system to a more robust and geoenabled system using Esri's suite of tools. In partnership with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, work is under way to develop a new system that will enable not only the identification of appropriate resources but also provide mechanisms for assignment, routing, and tracking of resources and information sharing through mobile-enabled apps. The system will be developed to support existing state and national response plans and provide the latest capabilities available.  


This partnership is a crucial milestone for the IAFC in its mission to lead, educate, and serve. The IAFC has taken an aggressive approach to provide the latest and most technologically advanced solutions available to our members. This partnership with Esri will help advance public safety agencies into the next generation of service. For the staff at the IAFC, working on this project with Esri is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling projects they have undertaken.

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

By Mike King, Global Emergency Call Taking Industry Manager, Esri


In 2012, the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut launched an impressive GIS project with the goal of building an enterprise-wide system of land, infrastructure, and facility information. This effort—spearheaded by the tribe's CAD/GIS Document Control Department—was in response to the need to better manage assets, use of space, and occupancy on the Mohegan Tribe's reservation. However, the project also provided an opportunity to improve the integrity of the existing 911 database and answer the clarion call from emergency call taking organizations and the Federal Communications Commission regarding Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1).


The challenge? Bring tribal property up to NG911 standards and prepare for emergency indoor routing.


At the heart of the Mohegan reservation are the Mohegan Tribal Government and Community Center, a day care center, a retirement facility, a public safety complex, Fort Shantok (a public park), the Mohegan Church, and 129 multi-and single-family residential units. Also on the reservation stands Mohegan Sun, with a two-tower, 1,600-room luxury hotel and a world-class casino facility. Located on the Thames River in Uncasville, the casino boasts 300,000 square feet of gaming excitement; a 20,000-square-foot spa; and more than 40 restaurants, bars, and lounges. With all that plus its impressive 130,000 square feet of retail shops, a 10,000-seat arena, 7,000 employees, and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Mohegan Sun itself resembles a small community.


To help solve their problem, tribal officials turned to the CAD/GIS Document Control Department including Steven Marien, department director, and Andrew Bowne, GIS administrator.


About two years ago, Bowne came to the tribe, bringing two decades of experience in designing, implementing, and managing enterprise GIS. Marien, geographic information officer (GIO) for the tribe and a licensed land surveyor, certified federal surveyor, and 30-year-veteran CAD and GIS manager, founded the tribe's growing enterprise GIS program in 2012. Together, these professionals are working with key stakeholders in Mohegan tribal government—including public safety, information systems, and human resources (HR) staff—to undertake a massive space use and occupancy data collection effort. To do this, the team is leveraging Amazon Web Services, the ArcGIS platform, and web applications. Also, the team is using consulting services from Esri partner PenBay Solutions for initial data collection and to establish an efficient long-term data management program. Bowne uses his extensive database and expertise to enable data exports that streamline updates to the 9-1-1 database.



Mohegan relies on (Lucent Technologies) Palladium system for E-911 and is preparing for an NG9-1-1 upgrade in late 2016. The E-911 system is not integrated with the dispatch solution eFORCE from IntelliChoice Systems, but enhancements are expected by the close of 2016.


To build an interior map of the facility, Bowne and Marien worked with PenBay to develop a number of models that integrated and configured the room and occupant information for employee offices, hotel rooms, etc. Using ArcGIS and the tools provided through PenBay's InVision solution, the necessary data was accessed and integrated into the newly created floor plans. In the end, employee information was integrated with the geographic data for a comprehensive facility floor plan that provided overall location information on personnel, assets, and equipment. PenBay's web applications provide public safety and facility managers with the ability to access interactive digital exterior and interior maps of the facility, including nearby critical infrastructure, and to find specific target areas by using simple, intuitive queries and search tools.



Because employees' workstations are constantly being moved within and across the facilities, the tribe utilized ArcGIS to update the NG9-1-1 database, providing quick and easy access to human and physical asset locations on a map.


Using Esri's Collector for ArcGIS, employees embarked on a data collection effort throughout the facilities. The effort included collecting a point at the location of each employee's assigned workstation, floor by floor. This data was joined with records that displayed the office location, employee name, department, job title, and contact information. 



Additionally, the locations of all shared, conference, and courtesy phones (including extensions) were collected and displayed.


Finally, a series of spatial views were created to show employees' locations with corresponding addresses, and operational dashboards were configured with Esri templates. Web maps were created using Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS.


As the project matures, the data will be exported into other technologies and linked to national databases, NG9-1-1 systems, and partner agencies.


The Mohegan Tribe project is a great example of ways in which organizations can prepare for NG9-1-1 while taking advantage of the results immediately.



Over the past year, we have been migrating the live feeds, provided by Esri Tech Marketing (, to ArcGIS Online.  All of these feeds are now part of the Living Atlas collection under the “Earth Observations” category.  As we have announced previously, the Technical Marketing Services will be retired at the end of this year—December 31, 2016.  This is a friendly reminder to update your maps and apps to use the new location of the live feeds before the end of the year.


There is no charge to use these services and no credits are consumed, but you do have to have an ArcGIS Online organizational subscription or developer account.  With Portal for ArcGIS at 10.5, you can leverage these live feeds by following these steps.  Also note, these feeds can be shared publicly in maps and apps, but there are a couple of extra steps.  The Story Maps Check Stories tool is very helpful to ensure there are no issues when sharing these feeds in public apps.

Here is the full list of live feeds and their permanent location:

Don’t forget to update your web maps and apps to point to these new services by the end of the year!

by Carl Walter, Esri National Security Industry Manager


Managing risk requires people, technology, and processes working together in a coordinated and collaborative way to enhance safety, reduce vulnerabilities, and increase overall engagement with daily operations. Safety and security professionals must make the most of existing resources and domain expertise to ensure tactical and strategic success in their missions.


ArcGIS as a foundational analytical platform empowers you to do more with less by connecting disparate data from multiple organizations with overlapping missions. ArcGIS helps stakeholders with mutual interests communicate and better understand risks, community hazards, and crime problems. They can prepare for dealing with known and potential threats and have shared situational awareness.

ArcGIS can help your security organization with

  • Identifying vulnerabilities and mitigating potential impacts through risk assessment and planning.
  •   Collaborating seamlessly with other organizations and agencies to achieve unity of effort before, during, and after a crisis.
  •   Intelligently deploying staff and resources to quickly respond to and recover from complex emergencies.
  •   Communicating with and engaging your employees, government agencies, and the public to keep them informed.
  •   Institutionalizing data-driven decision-making and taking advantage of big data as well as fragmented sources of information.



By Mike King, Global Emergency Call Taking Industry Manager, Esri


In Lee County, Florida, there are more than 100 golf courses, and throughout the winter months, most of them are filled to capacity with golf enthusiasts. Thanks to geographic information system (GIS) technology, today's golfers can now call 9-1-1 in an emergency from anywhere on the course (the tee box, fairway, or the green), and first responders will be able to locate them.

Lee County's first responders are prepared for any emergency, including heat-related illness or medical events like cardiac arrest or fractures. They've responded to golf cart accidents with serious injuries, beestings, snakebites, and many others.


Bringing locations of county golf courses into the address database made sense to Lee County GIS professionals who produced maps of all 108 golf courses. The digitizing process took over 800 hours to complete. Once finished, the maps were given to "light duty" personnel from fire districts and Lee County emergency medical services (EMS) for verification and address validation. Together, county stakeholders visited the physical locations of the courses to determine ingress and egress points and edited and updated the maps so that first responders could plan their approach while en route to an emergency.


Once the addresses were validated, they were placed into a matrix and loaded into the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) solution along with commonplace names and corresponding street addresses. The result was an address database that could be used in the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for call taking and assignment and emergency vehicle routing.

But Lee County didn't just stop there. County decision-makers reached out to the public in an aggressive public information campaign to heighten awareness and remind golfers to keep their mobile devices with them while playing golf in case of an emergency. Having access to a cellular device is helping telecommunicators find the caller more rapidly and reduces response times.


What's next? Lee County staff are using the lessons they learned to convert two additional addressing challenges into 9-1-1 addressable locations. First they are validating 1,700 public transit bus stops, and then they're taking their efforts to the beach. (And who doesn't love the beach?) Check Lee County website soon for an update on Lee County's GIS addressing project report for transportation and public beaches. (Hey, let's go surfing!)


Check out the Lee County Open Data Government site, and contact Esri if you’d like help in a similar type of project in your community.

By John Beck, Esri Global Law Enforcement Industry Manager


Over the past 18 months, police agencies have faced a crisis of confidence from the communities they serve. Incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago and cities across the nation have left the public questioning the legitimacy of police and the perceived lack of accountability and transparency of police agencies.


In December 2014, Barack Obama signed an executive order to initiate the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. This task force included participants from police, academia, and activist groups and had a fact-finding mission to collect testimonials and information from various stakeholders to identify best practices and recommendations focused on community policing. One of the key recommendations was that police use data and technology to improve public trust in their communities.


As a result of these findings the White House Police Data Initiative (PDI) was kicked off in May of 2015 with the objective of increasing transparency and community trust through Open Data. From an initial 26 cities, there are now 53 jurisdictions sharing over 90 data sets including; use of force, crime incidents, calls for service, arrests, traffic stops, and officer involved shootings.



Open Data is Location Data and police can leverage the Esri technology they already own to start building trust in their own communities. Here’s how:


Setup an ArcGIS Open Data Portal

An ArcGIS Open Data Portal is a quick and easy way you can start sharing data with the public. Once you decide which datasets you want to share you can open them up to automatically update to your public-facing website with our easy-to-use tools. ArcGIS gives you one system to connect to your data and delivers maps and tools that anyone can use. Best of all, ArcGIS Open Data is included with your existing ArcGIS Online subscription!


Public Dashboards

People want answers, not data. With public dashboards you can deliver open analysis tools that integrate maps with charts and widgets that encourage slicing, dicing, filtering and querying of data. Build focused dashboards that put the spotlight on important issues such as ongoing crime trends, police interactions with the public, or prolific offense locations.



Public Mapping Apps

With Web AppBuilder, you can build your first online interactive mapping application in minutes. Customize the look and feel of your apps with configurable themes and your agency’s branding. The key is making it functional and intuitive, and with widgets you can make web apps that improve your citizens’ ability to be informed and ask questions via self-service, online tools that answer inquiries like “who’s my community policing officer?” or “what is happening around me?”



Story Maps

With Story Maps, you can engage with the public in a multimedia format that combines maps, narrative, images and videos to tell a compelling story about the good work that your agency is doing. Use Story Maps to add textual context to data, communicate outreach efforts, enlist the public’s help, or brief the community on upcoming events or initiatives that may affect them.

By Mike King, Esri Global Industry Manager for Emergency Call-Taking, CAD, and RMS • defines epidemic as "a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something." Is the technology gap between existing call-taking systems and the wireless evolution evidence of epidemic failure?


Sadly, it's happened again . . . in fact, it happens with too much regularity. In May, news agencies across the country focused on the death of a North Carolina man, not because of his untimely passing, but because outdated systems didn't locate his cellular call to 9-1-1 in a timely manner. Here's the issue: A citizen makes an emergency 9-1-1 call from a cellular device, and (periodically) the call is routed to the wrong Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), causing delays that can have catastrophic results. In situations like those recently reported on, lives are lost, which is a price that demands immediate improvement.


Government providers of 9-1-1 services need to carefully evaluate their efforts to end this epidemic. PSAPs are relying on outdated analog technology that hasn't kept up with digital advances. PSAP solutions are expensive, and public decision-makers face restrictive budgets fueled by citizen demands to reduce taxes. While these issues may help explain the slow response, should this be accepted practice? Let's look at three scenarios that national call-taking organizations asked Esri to consider as part of our 2016 focus on emergency call-taking:


Scenario One: A man living in Columbus, Ohio, is having a conversation with his mentally ill mother, who lives in San Diego, California. During the conversation, the mother indicates that she is going to commit suicide and then hangs up. The son dials 9-1-1 on his mobile device, and (because he is in Columbus, Ohio) his call is routed to the Columbus Police Department PSAP. The PSAP must now get the mother's address from the son, search online for the most probable PSAP in San Diego, search through the website for contact information, and transfer the call. Valuable minutes pass before the son is in contact with the right emergency call center where first responders can be dispatched.


Scenario Two: A PSAP receives an improperly routed cellular call to 9-1-1 that cannot be located on the agency's computer-aided dispatch map and is outside the locally authoritative database, making location verification difficult. Most PSAPs rely on maps using street centerline data, and this event cannot be plotted on the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) map because it is falling in "white space." How can the PSAP quickly identify locations, addresses, or coordinates that fall outside the address database or the PSAP's jurisdictional boundary?


Scenario Three: A train derailment is reported to a number of dispatch centers between Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Information includes reports of chemicals spilling into an unspecified river. How can a PSAP quickly assess the situation, circumstance, and environment while efficiently identifying and notifying relevant PSAPs for a coordinated response? How can public officials promptly and competently notify citizens about resultant risks? How can different agencies collaborate and share information quickly and efficiently?


In 2016, Esri launched a new emphasis on the CAD/records management system (RMS) industry and refocused its efforts in four primary areas:

  • Collaboration with our partners/providers of emergency call data systems to better understand cellular tower locations, the call-routing function, and how GIS can improve location validation 
  • Teaming with our computer-aided dispatch and records management partners to improve GIS capabilities within their solution offerings 
  • Providing thought leadership to industry and government leaders 
  • Working closely with our large user community to identify areas where GIS can provide improvements, including the development of tools and templates to assist them in architecting their GIS infrastructure following best practices


Esri has created a story map to assist the public and decision-makers in better understanding the PSAP challenges and how Esri can help. It includes links to stories, web application examples, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling on location accuracy, and Esri white papers. You can find it by viewing the Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Overview story map.


In each of the scenarios outlined above, Esri's ArcGIS platform provides tools and templates that can help PSAPs solve problems. The public safety team has embraced the FCC's challenge to build solutions for indoor routing and 3D; in fact, we've been developing in this discipline for years, including on-site testing for the past year with our partner GeoComm.


We're working with industry leaders to build a nationwide PSAP boundary map, which will speed up the discovery of appropriate PSAPs to forward calls for service that are routed incorrectly. We've tackled the issue of providing real-time analysis of CAD data and how to consume and analyze sensor data in real time. Finally, Esri leads the way in mobile solutions so that our customers can embrace GIS and intelligent mapping anytime, anyplace, and on any device.


Check out the links below for more information, and reach out to the Esri public safety team for help. For scenarios in which customers or partners want to leverage a geocoding service that works like Esri's World Geocoding Service, we suggest the same approach Esri uses; namely, a composite locator service. Composite locator service is Esri jargon for a web service delivered by ArcGIS for Server, which publishes a composite locator to simultaneously search multiple data sources for street addresses, localities, zones, or points of interest by address or name and, optionally, a category. This is core technology that doesn't need customizing. You do not need to format the input text specially, and common aliases and spelling issues are handled for you. You do need reference data with searchable attributes. Esri uses HERE data, but customers are free to use their own—we supply the tools to build the locators.


Here are some relevant geolocator links:

Locator definitionsLocator creationComposite locatorsGeocode service

Find candidatesGet suggestionsUsing categories


Here are some links to the addressing solutions we deliver in our ArcGIS for Local Government solution:

Solutions siteAddress Data ManagementAddress Crowdsourcing

Data Reviewer for AddressesAuthoring locators from authoritative address information

Last summer, the Esri Public Safety Team started an Emergency Management Webinar series.  We are happy to let you know that these have continued on into 2016 and are nominally scheduled for the first Thursday of each month.  The purpose of this webinar series is to provide updates on using ArcGIS to support Emergency Management and Disaster Response.  The topics will vary and could be a broad overview or in depth topics like using a particular app or solution template.  We will also provide updates from recent disasters or special events as appropriate.  After the webinar, we will post the recording under the Videos section of the GIS for Emergency Management Industry page.

Our next webinar will be on Thursday February 4th at 9:00 am Pacific and the topic will be Communicate More Effectively with Story Map Journal.  You can still register here.


Our previous webinars covered as follows:


So please plan to join us this year and mark your calendars for the first Thursday of each month at 9:00 am Pacific / Noon Eastern!

The Esri International User Conference has many presentations and events with hundreds of topics covered. To help you find your way to the Public Safety, Law Enforcement, and National Security sessions and events, we have prepared a more focused agenda for you.

(Includes: Law Enforcement, Fire, Wildland Fire, Homeland Security, Disaster/Emergency Response, E-911 and EMS)…