Category: EGDMS

West Corporation

Posted on August 5, 2016 by West Corporation 

Geographic Information Systems in the PSAP: Strategic Planning for Data Integrity

By Charles Van Hoose, Sr. GIS Analyst at West

The importance of mission critical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data for call- and dispatch- mapping in the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) cannot be overemphasized. Accurate data combined with tactical mapping is critical for locating incidents, callers and devices, for dispatching appropriate resources, and for communicating situational awareness to first responders.

Read More >

West Corporation

Posted on February 20, 2014 by West Corporation 

Addressing Address Data that Works for You

How do you respond when someone asks for your address? Do you give them a P.O. Box, City & Zip? Or do you think of a street name and neighborhood? Some might provide a detailed address including house number, apartment unit if appropriate and even a community name. Of course, it’s all dependent upon the purpose behind the question.

We rely on addressing in multiple, everyday situations – mailing, navigation, emergency response and others. Addresses are assigned to single and multi-family homes, apartment buildings, industrial and commercial structures, and government structures. In some areas, addresses are assigned to identify infrastructure facilities, such as communication towers, fire hydrants, utility poles, bridges, and boat ramps.

GIS professionals are challenged with designing a geospatial database model that manages address data. To be successful, the data model must meet the standards of all disciplines and uses. Luckily, there are several address standard working groups that have identified the importance of addressing and have been developing such standards. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has developed Publication 28, Postal Addressing Standards, which defines the formatting of addresses for the processing and delivery of mail. The FGDC (Federal Geographic Data Committee) developed the United States Thoroughfare, Landmark, and Postal Address Data Standard which defines multiple fields for address data exchange.

In particular, for 9-1-1, consider:

  • The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is working on several standards documents including Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) United States Civic Location Data Exchange Format (CLDXF) Standard. The CLDXF would define the civic location data elements that will be used to support the NENA-compliant Next Generation systems, databases, call routing, call handling, and related processes.
  • The Standard for NG9-1-1 GIS Data Model that defines the database model that will be used to support the NG9-1-1  systems, databases, call routing, call handling, and related processes.
  • NENA also has a workgroup developing a Site/Structure Address Point GIS Data for 9-1-1 document to serve as a guide as to where to place the address point and how many address points are really necessary.

NENA, the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), the USPS, FGDC, and the U. S. Census Bureau are working collaboratively to update their separate standards. The good news is that while each standard is for their own specific purpose, the content will have similar data elements where they overlap. Several of the workgroups are comprised of individuals who volunteer their time and industrial knowledge to develop these standards.

These standards may not impact your response to the original question, “What is your address?” but they will undoubtedly clear the path for GIS professionals to more effectively help emergency responders find people who need help.

Kim Paxton, GISP, is a Support Engineer at Intrado

West Corporation

Posted on October 12, 2012 by West Corporation 

9-1-1 GIS Data – Accurate, Complete and Designed for a Specific Purpose

With the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1, the role of geographic information systems (GIS) data transforms to a new level of importance. In our industry, GIS data is primarily used for PSAP mapping and computer-aided dispatch applications that are useful. In most cases, however, they are supplemental tools to help a call taker during an incident. Next Generation 9-1-1 systems and networks utilize GIS data to make 9-1-1 call routing decisions. The GIS data needs to be extremely accurate and always up to date for this specific purpose. To achieve this level of accuracy and completeness, agencies and service providers need to adopt workflow processes that are specific to the 9-1-1 industry without losing sight of fundamental GIS practices.Represent the Real World

Many times GIS data is created and maintained to make a software application perform a certain way. These cases present the risk of tweaking the data to control software rather than actually creating a geographic representation of what really exists in the world. GIS editing and data accuracy standards need to be created specifically for 9-1-1 systems without compromising spatial accuracy.

Utilize Existing GIS Data and Resources, but…

There is an abundance of GIS data available for public use from local, regional, state government resources and commercial entities. These resources might be a good starting place for building a 9-1-1 GIS database. But it is very important to understand that data was created for a specific purpose and that it will require validation and customization to be usable for 9-1-1 purposes. For example, a property appraisal entity might have very accurate and complete address point and property boundary data. That data might be great for use as a visual tool in a 9-1-1 mapping system. However, the database or attribute information might not be the best for making 9-1-1 call routing decisions or for locating a 9-1-1 caller. The attribute data associated with the layers will most likely be fit for finding the correct address to mail a property tax invoice.

Make a Plan and Stick to it

If you took an unverified third party source of GIS data and tried to use it in your PSAP mapping or CAD system, would it work well?  Not at first, but it might be a good place to start because you can refine the data as time goes on. If you took an unverified third party source of GIS data and tried to use it for routing 9-1-1 calls, would it work well?  No, and there might be greater immediate consequences. You need a plan, a workflow, and a recurring process for managing GIS data for the future, before implementing a GIS based routing solution. Many 9-1-1 entities around the United States have created detailed workflow processes. Why reinvent the wheel when you can connect with and learn from leading entities and industry experts?

The Future is Endless

Today, the primary data utilized for 9-1-1 GIS systems such as address points, street centerlines, and jurisdictional polygon boundary layers require dedicated resources and an extensive amount of time to create and maintain. What is next?  Are we going to eventually collect data representing buildings, places, rooms, furniture in every room, 3D models of furniture in every room, real time GIS data showing where people are located?  How will we keep up with maintaining this more specific data?  Do we need to start thinking about this?  Will there ever be a determined limit where 9-1-1 GIS data is accurate and complete enough?

This is an exciting time to be part of the 9-1-1 industry, especially if you focus on GIS data and solutions. Start now, keep going and plan for the future.

By Anthony Haddad, Technical Sales Engineer, Safety Services – West

West Corporation