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by Mike Cox, Director of Fire & EMS Solutions

 

Responders make critical decisions based on limited information every day. Agencies should strive to generate verified data for emergency response to provide that responder with the right data at the right time. Fire and EMS departments can integrate disparate data from multiple sources that can be used to perform incident assessments, monitor response actions, and to provide a higher level of responder safety based on verifiable intelligence.

 

Fire and EMS agencies need tools to adapt to fluid risks and to support a variety of mission requirements. Today, we must be able to identify changing incident conditions, collaborate and unify operations in an all hazard environment, rapidly respond to events, communicate with the public, and analyze the success of those efforts. Through the power of geospatial technology, organizations can now adopt a smarter, more integrative approach to emergency response.

The ever-present threat of terrorist activity and complex day to day operations regularly challenge the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). The FDNY continually seeks technology and methods to increase the impact of their response to significant incidents.

 

Esri Public Safety personnel and our partner Leica Geosystems were deployed to a full-scale exercise with the Fire Department of New York’s Incident Management Team (IMT). A simulated improvised explosive device devastates a Brooklyn subway tunnel during a weekday morning commute. As units are responding to that incident, a large vessel in Jamaica Bay suffers an explosion, sending multiple patients into the water.

 

The exercise was designed to evaluate the ability of the FDNY Special Operations Command (SOC) to manage the response to two separate simulated incidents involving rescue operations and wide area search without impacting day to day operations. The exercise involved several hundred responders.

 

The objectives of the FDNY’s IMT during the evaluation of LIDAR and GIS technology included:

  • To leverage technology to support the SOC response
  • Create products including Dashboards, Collector, and digital mapping applications in support of the exercise 
  • Provide real time data collection using mobile applications
  • To collect, process and view LIDAR data from the Leica platform
  • To process data collected by UAS using Esri Drone2Map software 
  • To share the data collected using the IMT Esri ArcGIS Online organization to give the Incident Commanders the information they need to manage the incident

Incident Operations

The incident map was created using multiple data sources including parcel layer data, road networks, 3D building models, and subway maps. The integration of this data allowed for a comprehensive assessment by command officers and operations personnel.

 

Real time data collection was performed during the initial response by operational personnel. Esri’s Collector application provided incident intelligence related to victim counts, damage assessment, and the area of operations.

 

Rapid Processing of LIDAR Data

Leica Geosystems provided two products that perform LIDAR modeling. One was deployed from fixed points throughout the operational area. The second was a backpack based model that personnel could “walk through” the incident area on a mobile device.

 

This data, creating a 3D model of the tunnel in near total darkness, could provide the command staff the ability to virtually fly through the tunnel within minutes of gathering the data. The LIDAR model identified areas of damage, vehicles, and victim locations.

 

The LIDAR data was shared through the IMT’s AGOL organization. This allowed the incident data to be accessed by any stakeholder that the command staff deemed appropriate.

 

UAS Data

FDNY UAS operators were able to provide imagery during the event. This imagery was integrated into the common operating picture. This provided responders with the most up to date site information possible.

 

The integration of all relevant data to produce a comprehensive picture of the incident was well received by the command staff.  The FDNY has multiple operations personnel heavily engaged in the use of GIS products to improve safety and efficiencies in response operations. The FDNY has developed the capability to use mobile applications for field data collection. Operational personnel not directly involved in the use of GIS recognized its value during this operation. There was demonstrated capability in the IMT’s ability to use mobile applications and build Operations Dashboards to provide a common operating picture. The IMT GIS personnel are highly skilled in the use of GIS for emergency response.

 

Public safety agencies worldwide already have access to many of the capabilities used during this exercise. These capabilities are applicable to daily operations, disaster response, planning activities, and many other areas of public safety agency operations.

 

If you have any questions about deploying these capabilities for your agency, please feel free to contact Esri.

Mike Cox, Director of Fire & EMS Solutions  mike_cox@esri.com

By Mike King

Director, Emergency Communications Solutions – Esri

 

Last week I had the opportunity to provide a keynote address at the annual conference of one of our computer-aided dispatch partners. My remarks centered on leveraging geographic information system (GIS) technology in a presentation titled "The Art of the Possible—GIS for PSAPs."

 

I focused my comments on four important, and often disregarded, topics in the 911 industry: digital information sharing, migrating GIS data from 2D to 3D, embracing out-of-the-box web applications, and enhancing business intelligence tools with GIS, specifically focusing on Insights for ArcGIS.

 

 

Digital Information Sharing
Agencies around the world are frustrated with the antiquated analog approach of uploading address database information, service areas, and other CAD foundational information on a periodic basis. They recognize that the moment the data is uploaded, it is outdated.

Forward-thinking agencies are embracing digital transformation, allowing end users to take advantage of the most up-to-date information the moment it becomes authoritative. This effort requires agencies to use modern technologies like ArcGIS Hub or Portal for ArcGIS. A hub or portal allows agencies to manage and share geospatial data quickly and securely to those with a need to know.

ArcGIS Hub is an easy-to-configure cloud platform that organizes people, data, and tools to accomplish initiatives and goals. Organizations of any type and any size can maximize engagement, communication, collaboration, and data sharing using the ArcGIS Hub initiative-based approach.

With ArcGIS Hub
, organizations can leverage their existing data and technology to work together with internal and external stakeholders while tracking progress, improving outcomes, and creating vibrant communities.  Use Hub to share data, create unlimited websites, organize your work around initiatives, enable collaboration, and inspire action.

 

Migrating Your 2D GIS Data to 3D
Soon, public safety answering point (PSAP) personnel and first responders will begin receiving z-axis location information (elevation) in the packet of 911 data received in the PSAP. As this information becomes available, agencies will need to view this information on 3D maps to better understand and respond.

 

The FCC ruling on location accuracy and indoor routing will soon become a reality across America, and it is incumbent upon PSAPs to be able to appropriately respond to the data. This will require significant effort on the part of private and public entities to fully embrace and prepare for the eventuality. With the tools that help you build a 3D infrastructure, your agency can also leverage the analytic functions of 3D, including solutions like the line of sight capabilities and building height and distance measurements.

 

Embracing Out-of-the-Box Web Applications
Delivering comprehensive GIS capabilities to the field is possible with web applications and native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows. Dashboards, field collection tools, workforce assignment, and tracking are all within reach with Esri's apps for field operations, a collection of integrated, location-based apps that work wherever you do. That means you will have functioning and integrated maps on your desktop, on your mobile devices, or in your browser. It has been proven effective in disconnected environments and on all broadband networks, including the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

 

 

Using field apps improves coordination, achieves operational efficiencies, and helps you gain insight. Your authoritative data deserves a solution as specialized as the insight it provides. ArcGIS ensures that your teams in the field or in the command center are using the same data to reduce errors, boost productivity, increase operational understanding, and save money.

 

Enhance Business Intelligence Tools with ArcGIS Insights
I have watched closely as agencies around the world grapple with visualizing and understanding data. ArcGIS Insights offers a data analytics workbench where you can explore spatial and nonspatial data in an easy-to-use drag-and-drop environment. You don't need to be an expert in data or geographic information systems. You simply access the data and begin to explore

and solve spatial problems. You'll answer questions you didn't know you needed to ask and quickly deliver powerful results.

 

I'm excited to announce that ArcGIS Insights is now available in beta for Windows and macOS! This means you can work connected or disconnected, right from your desktop. Check it out at ArcGIS Insights.

 

 

Interested? 
If you’d like to learn more, downoad our eBook, “5 Ways GIS Empowers Next Generation 911,” or email me and start a dialogue.
 

 

All the best, Mike 
mking@esri.com 
www.Esri.com/911  

 

Check out the latest blog from Mike Cox on Swiftwater Rescue Mission Improves Using Augmented Reality featuring Johns Creek, Georgia.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Augmented reality helps orient the user in challenging and disorienting conditions.
  • Crafting a successful solution involves an understanding of objectives and operational conditions.
  • Creative combinations of technology helped solve compounding challenges.

By Mike King, Director of Emergency Communications – Esri

Twitter @printcop

 

In July of this year, public safety professionals from around the world descended on San Diego, California to attend Esri’s 4-day National Security and Public Safety Summit. Over 700 commanders and staff came together to share the challenges and successes they’ve had while protecting over the past year.
 
As the conference began, I stood in awe, hand over heart, as the flag of the United States was presented. I listened intently as our national anthem was powerfully sung.  I felt a sense of gratitude at the reverence displayed by our many international colleagues and government leaders in attendance.
 
During a “moment of silence” for those who had lost their lives in the line of duty last year, my mind raced back to personal friends who died in the line of duty. Their deaths and the accompanying heartache felt by comrades and loved ones suddenly raced back and I found myself stirred with deep emotion. I could see the faces of many of the attendees, and they too seemed to be humbly honoring those great heroes from around the world.
 
Once the summit was underway, I saw police officers, firefighters and emergency managers sitting side-by-side, interacting with each other, both during and in-between sessions. Their common mission of public protection powerfully eliminated preconceived misconceptions and personal biases. Together, they were learning from each other, embracing commonalities and solving problems.
 
I marveled at the great work being done globally, like the work of the Lebanese Red Cross who adopted a new GIS strategy to improve ambulance response times.  These efforts are now saving lives and our colleagues in Lebanon are leveraging that investment to improve their mobile web applications for improved data collection and information sharing.

Lebanese RedCross at Esri's National Security and Public Safety Summit
 
The summit provided examples of real-world, national security and public safety challenges, like those shared by CEO Brian Fontes of NENA, the National Emergency Number Association. Fontes shared NENA’s newly created national PSAP Registry portal, designed to spatially show all public safety answering points (command & control centers). The Registry will support many of the next generation call-taking efforts.

 

CEO Brian Fontes of NENA at Esri's National Security and Public Safety Summit


 
Other presentations included how U.S. Customs and Border Protection is saving lives through the Missing Migrant Program. This program was designed to save lives along the 4,200 square miles of the Rio Grande Valley and evidence shows that it’s working. 

 

 

US Border Patrol

 

Richard Reed of the FirstNet Authority shared how GIS is used in the rollout of the
first voice and data broadband network dedicated to first-responders and Colonel Volker Kozok showed how the German Armed Forces are using GIS to combat hybrid warfare.
German Armed Forces

 
At one point, I found myself smiling as I reflected on what I was witnessing. It was a true “coming together” of several life-saving disciplines and it included all of the fun-loving banter that exists between first-responders.

 
My personal example goes like this (and sounds like a broken record) as several old firefighter friends approached me with the same humor I’ve heard for 40 years, saying, “Hey King, if you could have scored two more points on your public safety exam, you could have been a fireman too!”  Not to be outdone, and in true form to my law enforcement brotherhood, I simply responded with some of the many reasons why law enforcement is a more noble career, and why we always won the town celebration tug-o’-wars – not just by brawn… but also our brilliance!

 

Mike King and John Beck at Esri's National Security and Public Safety Summit
 
The National Security and Public Safety Summit offered everyone in attendance with a unique balance between visionary leader keynotes, forward-thinking presentations and networking opportunities where attendees could learn about the rapid advances that are occurring globally, including how GIS is influencing and empowering first-responders. Let's continue the conversation in this GeoNet discussion, h
ow will you work to build resilience and collaborate in the new normal?


We want to thank our generous sponsors of the summit which include our gold sponsors: GeoComm, Juvare, Microsoft, and RapidDeploy; and our silver sponsors: BCS, FirstNet, HERE Technologies, and IBM.  If you missed this year’s summit, we will release the proceedings in the coming weeks. Please plan to join us next year at the National Security and Public Safety Summit on July 11-14, 2020 in San Diego. Those registered can also attend the first two days of the Esri International User Conference where more than 19,000 professionals from around the world come together. 

 

 

An important aspect about Emergency Management following Recovery is that lessons learned from the Response and Recovery actions inform Mitigation and Preparedness actions.  

Understanding Flooding from a torrential downpour or some other upstream event uses a different set of modelling capabilities than quick-and-dirty calculations to get immediate answers during disaster response.  When you have time, and you're exploring deeper analysis capabilities to predict what-if flooding scenarios in your jurisdiction, consider using this lesson to more deeply understand this desktop analytical workflow using ArcGIS Pro.  

 

 

In these lessons, you'll create the unit hydrographs for an outlet on the downstream end of the Little River. First, you'll prepare elevation data and use it to determine the watershed area for the outlet. Based on your watershed and terrain data, you'll create a velocity field, which determines how fast water tends to move in your study area. Using this velocity field, you'll create an isochrone map, which assesses the time it takes for water to travel to the outlet from anywhere in the watershed. Lastly, you'll use the isochrone map to derive a unit hydrograph and interpret what it says about the potential for floods in Stowe.

 

Predict Floods with Unit Hydrographs | Learn ArcGIS 

Check out the latest blog from Ryan Lanclos, Director of Public Safety Industry Solutions. This is the second of two stories about how Alabama responded to the deadly twisters of March 3 and details Lee County’s effort to assess needs and deliver relief to those devastated and trapped by the disaster.

 

Key Takeaways

  • First responders use maps and apps to understand the impact of a disaster.
  • The Emergency Operations Center receives real-time feeds from field apps and aggregates the full picture for situational awareness.
  • Data gathered immediately after the response helps local authorities during the long-term recovery and rebuilding effort.

 

Read the full blog at https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/blog/lee-county-maps-tornado-victim-needs

Check out the latest blog from Ryan Lanclos, Director of Public Safety Industries on the first of a two-part story about damage assessment for the devastating tornadoes in Lee County, Alabama. 

Key Takeaways

  • First responders use maps and apps for damage assessment to prioritize response and find victims.
  • The National Weather Service uses GIS to collect, map and classify the extent and track of each tornado’s path.
  • Automated preliminary response estimates speed assessment and rescue work.

 

Read the full blog at https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/blog/authorities-map-and-model-damage-from-deadly-alabama-tornadoes/

 

Check out the latest blog from Mike Cox, Director of Fire and EMS Industry Solutions, Esri

https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/blog/real-time-feeds-ensures-rose-parade-safety/ 


The City of Pasadena has long used maps to communicate details about the parade route, but this is the first time the map went beyond a paper handout. Integrating parade route details within a GIS made real-time tracking to inform public safety response possible.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Pasadena Fire Department monitors real-time data of weather, floats, and staff.
  • Parade safety assured with better coordination of personnel.
  • After weather threatens event, New Year’s Day tradition continues without disruption.

 

Read the full blog post here - https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/blog/real-time-feeds-ensures-rose-parade-safety/ 

Download the New Law Enforcement eBook Today.

In this eBook you will learn how to 

  • Implement Modern Crime Control Strategies
  • Prepare and Manage Special Events in Real Time
  • Support Community Policing Initiatives
  • Respond and Assist Homeless Populations
  • Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Advances in police technology and the evolution of modern systems are transforming policing. Sensors have become ubiquitous and include automatic vehicle location (AVL) and license plate recognition (LPR) technology, closed-circuit television (CCTV), body-worn cameras, gunfire detection systems, and drone platforms. Police data systems have also evolved. Computer-aided dispatch (CAD), records management system (RMS), and business intelligence (BI) technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated and producing larger, more robust datasets. Leading law enforcement agencies are linking all these information systems with GIS technology, giving police the ability to make data-driven decisions like never before

Law Enforcement eBook

Download: go.esri.com/l/82202/2019-03-24/mg8jw4

By Mike Cox, Esri Fire and EMS Industry Manager

 

Responders make critical decisions based on limited information every day. Agencies should strive to generate verified data for emergency and nonemergency needs to provide responders with the right data at the right time. Fire and emergency medical services (EMS) departments generate a large amount of data that can be used to identify emerging threats, monitor performance measures, and develop resource deployment models based on verifiable intelligence.

Modern challenges require modern solutions. Agencies and organizations need tools and operational capabilities to adapt to fluid risks and to support a variety of mission requirements. Today, we must be able to identify threats, collaborate and unify operations, respond rapidly to events, communicate with the public, and analyze the success of those efforts. Through the power of geospatial technology, organizations can now adopt a smarter, more integrative approach to safety and security. With the right technology, data, people, and processes, every community can become a safe community.

 

The demands on agencies—ranging from aging populations to the increasing severity and frequency of the events to which we must respond—are becoming greater. The role of public safety is changing as we strive to keep our communities livable. The health of a community depends on the effective operation of its public safety agencies, and geographic information system (GIS) technology can improve that effectiveness.

 

We can use GIS to analyze and measure data and share it with decision-makers. This data can come from computer-aided dispatch (CAD) software, records management systems (RMS), community risk reduction (CRR) activities, or nearly any data source that's deemed appropriate by the agency.

 

 

The issue in public safety is to determine how we use this data. How do we visualize it? How do we communicate it? Problems arise because the data can be incorrectly collected. Software changes, proprietary vendor policies, and agency guidelines can obstruct the use of data. Software can be complicated, and visualization can be cumbersome. These problems can disrupt the use of the data by leaders.

 

GIS can help users overcome these obstacles. Agencies can develop plans and processes for collecting, measuring, and analyzing pertinent data to support their operations.

 

There is often a communication gap between fire service leadership and GIS personnel. Of course, we are all searching for safe solutions for our customers and public safety personnel. We must bridge the gap between data and where it can be used to make good decisions.

 

 

GIS is the tool to bridge that gap. GIS directly impacts how well we collect, measure, and analyze data and supports the credibility of leaders and the organization. Using data analysis and communicating its results to your personnel, elected officials, and the public can impact the long-term health of your organization. The ability to tell the organization's story will affect staffing, fleets, station construction, and fiscal decisions.

 

The accreditation process is a perfect example of the appropriate use of data. As defined by the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), accreditation is "an all-hazard, quality improvement model based on risk analysis and self-assessment that promotes the establishment of community-adopted performance targets for fire and emergency service agencies." This model of continual improvement depends heavily on the collection and analysis of data.

Public safety personnel are continually analyzing data. Every response generates data for after-action reports, performance measures, and the identification of successful outcomes. These reviews can be supported using GIS. The benefits of using GIS data to measure performance and focus resources can be wide-ranging. These benefits include the following:

  • Identification of populations at risk—A community risk assessment (CRA), performed for the accreditation process and for risk reduction programs, can identify high-risk occupancies (target hazards), at-risk populations, and areas of the community where there should be public education and prevention programs.
  • Increased responder safety—Through a CRA, preplanning efforts can be focused on the highest-risk occupancies. Responders can identify these hazards before the response. GIS allows agencies to use a visual product to share these assessments efficiently with anyone deemed appropriate. These plans can be communicated in near real time as they are generated or updated.
  • Support for the budgetary process—Gone are the days of anecdotal presentations to justify expenditures. Elected officials and the community no longer want decisions based on gut feelings. With GIS, data can be presented in a way that easily identifies gaps in service delivery, local at-risk areas, and the impact of growth on a community. These stories can be communicated to elected leaders to justify the investment of public funding in the agency.

 

To effectively analyze data, your agency must do three things:

  • Identify what decisions must be made and ensure that your agency's data supports these decisions. This data can include tax parcel, road network, demographic, RMS, CAD, and CRR information. Consider what data the agency would want in a visual product that would help staff make decisions. RMS and CAD data is typically easily consumed by GIS to generate visual products.
  • Use available off-the-shelf solutions to analyze data by location, time, and performance. Is the agency meeting effective response force (ERF) objectives? What areas of the community have service delivery gaps?
  • Visualize the information and share it with the appropriate decision-makers. Agencies will be able to determine if the department is meeting performance objectives. Decision-makers can determine where these performance gaps are so that resources can be appropriately deployed.

The accreditation process requires the use of planning zones, which can be easily designated as the agency prefers. These zones can be created in geographic measurements, such as a square mile; by first-due responders' or other individuals' resource areas of responsibility; or—using the most comprehensive approach, after performing a focused risk assessment—at a very granular address point for every occupancy in a jurisdiction.

 

We need a CRA to understand the community we serve. These assessments not only identify risk but also highlight the characteristics of the population and infrastructure that impact response daily. The data available for the CRA is from the agency and outside sources. This data can include demographics, occupancy types, water systems, target hazards, floodplains, and critical infrastructure that can be identified and presented with GIS. Your agency can use this assessment to focus efforts on continual improvement and reduce the risk for your community, and then use GIS to efficiently manage that risk reduction effort.

 

Drive-time analysis, 90th percentile data visualization, and the presentation of high-risk areas can all be performed with GIS. Off-the-shelf templates support the agency's data analysis. Use templates for direction on how to automate the data you import into your solutions. These solutions are configurable and very flexible. You decide what data is used, how to view it, and who can access it.

 

Visit: solutions.arcgis.com/local-government/fire-service/

 

Now this data can help your agency become more efficient and reduce risk for responders and the community. These solutions are not complicated and provide the appropriate tools to decision-makers, from frontline personnel to the agency executives. These solutions provide leaders with the tools for making decisions to increase responder safety, reduce response times, and provide an environment of continual improvement.

 

References

Esri: esri.com

CPSE: https://cpse.org/

Vision 20/20: http://www.strategicfire.org

Orland Fire Protection District: www.orlandfire.org

Orland Fire GIS: Steve Rivero, Engineer s.rivero@orlandfire.org

Esri: Mike Cox, Fire and EMS Industry Manager Mike_Cox@esri.com

FEMA has combined a number of applications that are part of the FEMA GeoPlatform to create the Hurricane Incident Journal. This story map provides relevant and up-to-date data and tools that provide spatial decision-making support to FEMA leadership. The journal is available to the general public to provide a greater understanding of storm events and a view into the federal information that comes together to inform disaster response.

 

 

Included in the Hurricane Incident Journal are:

  • Hurricane Dashboard for Surge Inundation – presents a dashboard view that details the population exposed to surge inundation
  • Hurricane Force Winds Dashboard – analysis of population within the wind threshold
  • Logistics Needs for Surge Inundation – an estimation of the resources needed to support the populations exposed to storm surge
  • Call Volume – an estimation of the number of callers and translator requirement based on surge inundation
  • Hazard Exposure – a model of community impacts weighted by forecasted flood depth, wind speed, and social vulnerability
  • Flood Extents – a hydrodynamic model that simulates flooding based on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory RIFT model
  • Infrastructure – an interactive map to view the impacts on essential facilities (hospitals, schools, senior centers, etc.) based on wind speeds
  • Transportation –traffic reports from Waze updated every two minutes with Hurricane Evacuation Routes and fuel availability
  • Federal Support Disaster Declaration – a dashboard that shows the counties that have requested federal disaster response

 

In addition to the individual applications, the Hurricane Incident Journal contains dialogue about each map and links to further resources. The modeled damage assessments are based on flood depth grids and verified using satellite imagery. Wind data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Satellite imagery and other remote sensing inputs are from NASA and the European Union’s Copernicus program. Weather data comes from the National Weather Service. Flooding models are informed by stream gauge sensor data feeds from the US Geological Survey. Additionally, these applications draw on data from joint field offices, disaster recovery centers, shelters, and other sources.

 

Esri’s geospatial cloud platform, ArcGIS , provides the means to deliver these lightweight applications. These dashboards and interactive maps incorporate an array of inputs to provide a quickly understandable common operational picture—condensing the time between data and decisions.

 

For more information on active hurricane response, please visit the Esri Disaster Response Program at www.esri.com/disaster

 

A new interactive story map provides a place to share photos from the 2018 hurricane season. People can quickly post photos of preparations and the impacts from this year’s storms. The photos appear on a map alongside projected storm paths, providing an on-the-ground perspective of these events as they unfold. Visitors to the map can zoom in to see the photos related to specific areas or can browse through all the images to get a broad overview of storms.

 

The story map is the work of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) and GIS Corps. NAPSG has compiled a number of helpful resources for GIS practitioners who are preparing for these events. GIS Corps volunteers are poised to assist communities by applying GIS skills to aid recovery efforts.

 

The app is designed to engage those on the ground in these areas as well as those bearing witness from afar. Participants are encouraged to upload images from social media channels that contain an identified location. The images and map provide a compelling interface to gain a greater understanding of 2018 hurricane damage at the ground level.

 

This map can also be found in the public apps gallery for the Esri Disaster Response Program - monitoring events 24/7 and here when you need it most. If your capacity has been exceeded and you need geospatial support, Request Assistance online today.

Next Generation 911, A Long-Distance Sprint 

 

By Mike King, Global Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch/FirstNet Industry Manager, Esri  

In 1980, a few days after graduating from the police academy, I responded to the homicide of a corrections officer named Bryan Pickett.[1] (Bryan graduated from my high school a year before me.) The only address information the 911 caller provided was, " . . .in Sullivan's Hollow." 

 

 

Pickett was found lying in the middle of the road with a gunshot wound to the head—his vehicle was still running. 

 

Then (40 years ago), we relied on the Polk Directory[2] for address information, but it rarely had place-names or aliases to help. If you were unfamiliar with your surroundings, finding the location became much more challenging.  

 

Pickett's killer was never officially identified or charged, and I often think about him, wondering if better location information could have reduced the time it took to get first responders to the scene. He probably wouldn't have survived the shooting, but his assailant might have been apprehended.

 

Location image: This 1980 image is courtesy of the Utah AGRC Open Data Portal. Using ArcGIS, the image was geolocated on a topographic map, and a swipe map of 2018 imagery, courtesy of Nearmap, was added. 

 

 

Scan the QR Code to view a web application on your mobile device.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] UTAP Cold Case image courtesy of the Utah Attorney General's Office.

[2] Weber County Polk Directory image, Digital Collections, Stewart Library, Weber State University.

 

 

 

After my law enforcement career, I was fortunate to join the Esri public safety team, a group of retired police, fire, emergency management, and national security commanders who maintain their passion for ensuring public safety. My focus has evolved to spending more time with the members of the emergency call-taking industry—the initiators of all public safety response.

 

As I have participated in discussions around the world on the Next Generation 911 (NG911) initiative, I marvel at how far we've come and how much still needs to be done. Migrating the antiquated analog systems of the past to powerful digital solutions that consume large amounts of data in real time is a daunting task, but it is a task worth doing. Providing first responders with authoritative address data they can follow and trust is paramount.

 

The promise of improved 911 caller location has been the focus of public safety telecommunicators, national trade organizations, and federal oversight agencies for a long time. Each collaborative effort brings increasing hope that we are making things better. In some arenas, the vision of "what could be" has now become the reality of "what is."

 

At Esri, we're working tirelessly to help our CAD/911 partners embrace geographic information system (GIS) capabilities that offer best practice architecture for address database creation and management. We're guiding agencies around the world as they migrate their 2D geographic data to 3D, preparatory to z-axis information coming to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) center. Our easy-to-configure web applications are used globally, including on the FirstNet network.

 

Now, there's a game-changing way to access accurate smartphone device location and additional emergency data from Apple, Uber, other apps, and connected devices. Please join the experts from Esri, RapidSOS, and GeoComm as they discuss the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse.  You can register here.

 

Just before my retirement, I read a quote by Theodore Roosevelt in the office of an assistant chief of police. Recently, I heard it referenced during the funeral of Senator John McCain. I think it fittingly applies to those of you who are trying to bring NG911 to fruition. I'll close with an excerpt from Roosevelt's speech, Citizenship in a Republic.[1]

 

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

 

Learn more about Esri's efforts in emergency call taking at go.esri.com/911 

 

Register for the NG911 device location webinar Accessing Location Information from Smartphone Devices.

 

Download the eBook on 5 Ways GIS Empowers Next Generation 911. 

 

[1] Citizenship in a Republic, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizenship_in_a_Republic.

Early September historically sees the most disaster damage in the US, because it’s the height of the hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin. In time for this busy season, FEMA has released Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) templates for Survey123 for ArcGIS. The templates streamline data collection on handheld devices and mark an ongoing digital transformation from traditional paper forms.

 

A PDA report is mandated by Congress in order to determine if disaster damages warrant a presidential major disaster declaration and the funds that come with it. The templates address one of the primary goals of FEMA’s new strategic plan—to reduce complexity—making it easier and quicker for communities and individuals to receive the assistance they need.

 

“We designed the survey to be easy for anyone to fill out,” said Erin Densford, Recovery Operations Officer, FEMA headquarters. “We know that state, local, tribal and territorial governments sometimes have to rely on people that have never done a damage assessment before, and the language on the survey is meant to be very straightforward.”

 

The PDA process starts at the local level where damage details are initially collected, shared, and validated by State, Tribal, and Territorial authorities. These entities generally have 30 days from the start of an incident to determine whether or not federal assistance in the form of FEMA Individual Assistance, Public Assistance or other federal programs may be necessary.

 

Many local authorities thankfully face disasters for the first time or go decades between events. For those new to the process or refreshing their understanding, the process is well-documented in a detailed manual. However, the level of detail is hard to process in the immediate aftermath of a disaster event.

 

“With the templates, you can look at the data schema and have a good sense of what we want within five or ten minutes,” Densford said. “It’s far faster than looking through the 60-page manual, which users can reference for clarification.”

 

The template approach has been in the works for some time. It has been tested in pilot programs with state and local authorities. Refinements have reached the point where it’s ready to be shared broadly with the emergency management community.

 

This process isn’t a great leap forward in time savings for individual assessments, but it greatly improves accuracy and overall reporting. In testing, it takes a bit more time than paper because the step-by-step form-based approach requires that each field be filled out for each assessment.  With this template approach, “We’re getting all the pieces of information that we hope to collect, whereas we had gaps in the paper-based process in the past,” Densford said.

 

This improved accuracy also relates to improved location details.

 

“We have used GPS for some time,” Densford said. “With the manual effort, it was easier to get a location wrong by incorrectly transposing long numbers of latitude and longitude which meant we weren’t able to create maps based on the data.”

 

With Survey123, location is automatically registered to the damage details and photos of the damage, making map-based reporting as easy as hitting a button.

 

Work is ongoing on streamlining the data flow from the data being collected in the templates to the Public Assistance grant program system (PA Grants Manager). This next step promises to speed the flow of funds needed to rebuild, repair or replace damaged infrastructure in impacted communities.

 

“We have priorities to reduce the complexity and deliver individual assistance quickly, and this tool speaks to both of those objectives,” Densford said. “We’re making the process more transparent and hopefully condensing the time it takes for a community to achieve recovery.”

 

Learn how to configure and optimize the FEMA Preliminary Damage Assessment templates using Survey123 in this GeoNet post.