I’m pleased to announce the release of several public safety solutions by Esri. These solutions are built for first responders and public safety personnel. Some of them are included with the new release of ArcGIS Pro 2.5 and anyone who works with GIS technology should give them careful consideration.
For example, the new Address Data Managementsolution is a configuration of ArcGIS Pro that can be used by mapping technicians to maintain an inventory of road center-lines, valid road names, site addresses, and related mailing addresses. It comes after many months of hard work and includes recommendations from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the U.S. Postal Service. This solution gives database managers step-by-step instructions and sample data to help them in transitioning older databases to this newly updated format. You can learn more about this updated solution by watching our webinar titled, “GIS Focus for PSAPs in 2020.”
To compliment this free offering, the Address Field Operations solution provides Esri license holders a collection of maps and apps that can be used to crowd-source missing address information, manage address field operations, and collect address information while in the field.
As we continue our focus on migrating 2D data to 3D, our emphasis turns to visualizing z-axis information (elevation) on maps, mobile data terminals, smartphones, dispatch screens and command/control center video walls.
Emergency managers can benefit from the Flood Impact Analysis solution, a configuration of ArcGIS Pro that can be used to develop flooding scenarios and visualize the impact of flooding. The Road Network Data Management solution provides a configuration that can be used to maintain an inventory of public roads, road intersections, and physical road characteristics (such as speed limit, functional class, lane width, and number of lanes). Finally the Transit Safety solution, a collection of maps and apps that can be used by transit safety staff to document safety issues and manage corrective actions or mitigation activities.
I’m excited about the enhancement that have been made to the Crime Analysis Toolbar solution which organizes existing tools for crime analysis workflows. It provides several new tools that support data management, tactical and strategic analysis, investigative analysis, and information sharing needs.
In closing, I would like to mention this new enhancement for firefighters, the Target Hazard Analysis solution which can be used to identify properties and buildings that could result in a loss of life, or have a negative impact on the community if a fire were to occur.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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, how will you work to build resilience and collaborate in the new normal?
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 tomake data-driven decisions like never before.
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. (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 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.
UTAP Cold Case image courtesy of the Utah Attorney General's Office.
 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.
"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."
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.
The 38th Esri User Conference (Esri UC) was an incredible success. When nearly 18,000 Esri geographic information system (GIS) technology users gather for a week of learning, networking, and sharing ideas, the result can only benefit all involved. The content ranged from integrating data from “low earth orbit” satellites to dealing with a total solar eclipse “where the sun don't shine”.
This was my first User Conference since becoming an employee of Esri, and while I had attended the Esri UC previously as a user, my role this year provided a new perspective on the event. It was humbling to see the commitment of Esri personnel to our user community. Our only focus is to support our users, to see them succeed, and to serve. It is through this servant role that we see the incredible accomplishments of our users. For those of us in the public safety industry, these accomplishments mean saving lives, preserving property, and protecting the environment. The 2018 Esri UC had multiple examples of GIS leveraged to do just that—maintaining safe communities and protecting our neighbors.
For the public safety team, the event started with the National Security and Public Safety Summit (NSPSS) @ Esri UC. The theme this year was Prepare for the New Normal—explore new ways to overcome increasingly complex and unpredictable threats and hazards. This two-day preconference event had its largest attendance to date. Over 450 defense, law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, and emergency management personnel gathered for presentations about the successful use of GIS.
These NSPSS presentations covered topics including responding to wildfires, managing significant events such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four tournament, and sharing data with multiple agencies to coordinate preparations for and response to disasters. Local, state, federal, and international agencies demonstrated how GIS is used to prevent, assess, and respond to incidents. As an example, the European Union (EU) Satellite Centre presented on the use of satellite data to provide geospatial intelligence to a wide range of users within the European External Action Service and the EU member states. This presentation showcased the use of Esri technology, ranging from analysis performed on the desktop to the services being delivered through portals, from the management of the migration crisis to the support for the dismantlement of chemical weapons depots in Syria.
The theme of this year's Esri User Conference was Inspiring What's Next. As always, the main event began with Jack Dangermond presenting his vision at the Plenary Session. While his vision included where the technology is going, Dangermond started the week by having all in attendance consider what's next for our planet. What does that mean to individuals, families, and our communities? We live in a complex, interconnected world, and we can use geography to connect us. This constantly changing world creates many challenges—climate change, drought, deforestation, pollution, increasing urbanization, and many others. These challenges require us to fundamentally understand our world, as understanding precedes action. The Science of Where provides the framework and process for applying geographic knowledge that we can use to change our world. You can watch the 2018 Esri UC Plenary Session https://www.esri.com/videos/?event=594d5ac051b03b9718bde52b&title=Esri%20User%20Conference if you missed it earlier.
The Plenary Session maintained the Inspiring What's Next theme with a discussion of the emerging capabilities for the Esri platform. These capabilities include augmented reality, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. The increasing use of embedded devices in vehicles, clothing, and our environment—all with a geographic component—will impact our lives every day. With 3D capabilities providing a better understanding of our environment, first responders can—in seconds—identify the location of a person needing help, such as which floor in the building the person is in. GIS removes the technological complexities to allow us to solve real problems easily.
The latest release of ArcGIS Pro can help you visualize, edit, and analyze your geographic data in both 2D and 3D, providing full context to the area you are mapping. You are able to easily share your work—from mobile web scenes to paper maps—creating tailored experiences for different types of users. ArcGIS Pro 2.2 has many new features that are exciting, particularly when it comes to editing in 2D and 3D; performing quick visibility analysis; and sharing your 3D content on any device, anywhere, anytime.
Esri's ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World continues to evolve and provide multiple data sources for our users. One example of Living Atlas data is Sentinel-2 imagery for the entire planet. Each place on earth is reimaged every five days, and the data is updated daily. This service provides imagery and infrared views. The rich content of the Living Atlas is brought together in the Earth Systems Monitor. The monitor allows you to view climate data, real-time weather conditions, and urban development as well as a global human footprint map. You can review some of the Sentinel-2 capabilities at sentinel2explorer.esri.com/.
Thousands of attendees from over 140 countries gathered in the San Diego Convention Center to learn how the innovative use of GIS addresses the issues impacting our planet. Examples of this work included the following:
Environmental modeling and assessment
Planning and urban design
Engineering and public works
Utilities and telecommunications
Public health and demographics
Public safety and security
Portal for ArcGIS, open data, and citizen engagement
One of the event highlights for Esri staff is the direct interaction and support we provided to our customers. For the public safety team, these exchanges primarily occurred in the Public Safety Neighborhood at the GIS Solutions Expo. This area allowed us to provide one-on-one demos, answer questions about solutions, and demonstrate solutions from our partners. There were also comprehensive presentations by our skilled staff in the Operations Platform for Safety/Security (OPS) Center Theater.
The Esri UC always focuses on our user community and its success. Throughout the conference, attendees could join other users during their presentations about the use of GIS. One of the most interesting sessions I was able to attend was about one community's effort to deal with "Where the Sun Don't Shine"! Trich Van Wagner, GIS manager for Bonneville County, Idaho provided an extremely entertaining presentation about how the county used GIS to manage the influx of visitors in the Idaho Falls area for the August 21, 2017, solar eclipse. Hundreds of thousands of people across the nation were vying for the best viewing spot, impacting localities across the nation.
Van Wagner and Bonneville County staff leveraged GIS to create incident maps and web apps for local government use. They mapped campsites and emergency response resources, and they used mobile applications such as Survey123 for ArcGIS and the ArcGIS environment to provide real-time incident data. This data was analyzed and communicated via story maps and dashboards. This presentation clearly demonstrated how The Science of Where helped provide a safe and efficient response to this significant special event.
Dangermond clearly stated that the goal of this year's Esri User Conference is unchanged from 38 years ago: to be together, learn from each other, share knowledge, and—from time to time—have a little fun. By all indications, we met this goal in 2018.
Around the world, emergency dispatch centers are grappling with outdated analog systems that are not capable of handling today’s complex mobile technology. Advances in text messaging, video, and sensor data now play important roles in information sharing. Migrating existing systems to digital solutions will provide more accurate location data and improve the transfer of critical information to PSAPs and those who are assigned as first responders. Download the 5 Ways GIS Empowers Next Generation 911 to learn how location intelligence can modernize your computer-aided dispatch.
Download this eBook to Learn:
How to ensure first responders arrive at the right location
How you can consume real-time data feeds
How to provide location awareness and indoor routing
How to rout emergency calls to the correct PSAP
How you can provide field interaction and reliability
We look forward to seeing you at the 2018 FedGIS Conference. To help you and your organization gain the maximum benefit from this event, we have highlighted a few resources among the hundreds of different activities, workshops and Expo opportunities available on March 20-21. Learn more at 2018 Esri Federal GIS Conference.
Last week, 9-1-1 professionals from across America met in Washington, DC, for the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) 9-1-1 Goes to Washington event. This annual event brought together hundreds of 9-1-1 professionals, who spent much of the week discussing the important challenges faced by the roughly 6,100 emergency call centers across the country. These centers are staffed by professional telecommunicators who prioritize and assign the 240 million calls for help each year.
The event rang the celebratory anniversary bell for the first 9-1-1 call, made 50 years ago. The conference also brought national attention to the need for modernization of the 9-1-1 system, highlighted in an informative article in the Washington Post.
The NENA conference provided a stage for a number of outstanding presentations from industry leaders, including Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai and FCC Public Security and Homeland Security Bureau chief Lisa Fowlkes. Laurie Flaherty, the coordinator of the National 911 Program, provided a comprehensive overview of data-gathering efforts and insight into the pending next generation 911 (NG911) cost study. Other high-interest topics included device-based hybrid location determination, the reclassification of telecommunicators, and legislative activities by lawmakers.
In tandem with this event, at the annual NG9-1-1 Institute Technology Showcase in the Rayburn congressional office building, government 9-1-1 leaders and experts met with members of Congress and their staff to spotlight and advocate for the emergency call-taking industry.
A number of evening events were held to recognize individuals who exhibited outstanding leadership or actions deemed exemplary in emergency response. The 9-1-1 Heroes event included presentations from the 9-1-1 community, members of Congress, and executive branch leaders.
Esri congratulates the 9-1-1 community on 50 years of providing dedicated service to those in need. Esri joins them in pledging continued research and investment in improving location services. You can learn more about Esri's efforts in improving address database management, 3D mapping and analysis, real-time analytics in the dispatch center, and mobile capabilities and dashboards at http://go.esri.com/NENA911http://go.esri.com/NENA911