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In the News

CAPCOG puts accurate mapping in emergency responders’ palms

Monday, November 28, 2016

The CAPCOG region’s 9-1-1 County Addressing Coordinators are testing a brand new mobile application that lets emergency responders know they are responding to the correct location anywhere in the 10-county region. Developed by CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program with guidance from its GIS Planning Council, the Emergency Locator Map gives first responders the same mapping information as 9-1-1 call takers see on their screens when receiving a call.

“We wanted the data to be consistent across the platforms, especially in this case where we have the first responders communicating with the call takers,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS Program manager. “The data we are using for the Emergency Locator Map is the most authoritative 9-1-1 data available about the region.”

How first responders identify address locations differ from one local agency to another. In some cases, third-party mobile mapping applications are used while in others, they are reliant on printed map books. Both can be inaccurate and use outdated information, especially since commercial and residential growth is booming throughout the region. Often peace officers and emergency medical personnel manually draw new roadways and write street names in map books to update them, which may not be printed annually. The Emergency Locator Map uses CAPCOG’s 9-1-1 addressing and street centerline data which is updated monthly — adding new subdivisions, roadways and addresses routinely. “Going to the right location is paramount,” Eissler said also noting typing in the address on a smartphone could be faster than flipping pages of a book. “We are talking about emergency situations where lives and property could be at stake. Efficiency, accuracy, and consistency is what we’re trying to accomplish.”

CAPCOG has asked its stakeholders, including the 9-1-1 Addressing County Coordinators, the GIS Planning Council, and GIS and Maps User Group (a CAPCOG advisory committee and workgroup), to evaluate the application, provide quality assurance, and recommend possible enhancements. Once those improvements are made, first responders will be asked to test the mobile application in the field and provide real-world feedback. CAPCOG hopes to use the real-world feedback, so the Emergency Locator Map will become emergency responders’ first choice of methods to respond to a scene.

Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager, explains how the Emergency Locator Map app works during a meeting with stakeholders in October.

> Find future updates about the application and read more about the GIS program.
> Read more about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

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