October 6, 2022

Powering your Public Safety Systems with Improved GIS Data

Success is simple.  Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time. – Arnold H. Glasow  

When answering a 9-1-1 call, access to accurate and up–to–date GIS data is essential because seconds count. Fortunately, achieving the necessary Public Safety Grade GIS data needed for 9-1-1 can happen with just a few steps.  Your steps involve assessing, improving, maintaining, and sharing your Geographic Information System (GIS) data to fulfill its mission critical role in current and future 9-1-1 systems.  The steps are also important in enabling 9-1-1 calls to spatially route to the appropriate Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in a Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) environment.  This proven process benefits call takers, responders, and future needs of the ECC. 

Some find that the improve step can be a daunting task – reviewing the QC results from assessing your GIS data, and determining where to start with error resolution can quickly seem overwhelming.  This review typically happens during a GIS Gap Analysis to identify data integrity issues and look at your data compared to NG9-1-1 industry standards. 


Where to Start

Start by splitting your QC results into two categories: critical and non-critical. Critical issues will cause problems with NG9-1-1 call routing and location validation functions. These location validation functions are also part of existing 9-1-1 systems, so improving GIS data can immediately improve existing 9-1-1 system functionality while also preparing your agency for NG9-1-1. Non-critical errors may be identified by the NG9-1-1 Core Service provider or CAD/mapping system requirements but will not prevent the data from being provisioned into the system. Some common critical errors include:

  • Mandatory Attributes Non-Compliance

    Adding, populating, or adjusting attributes in Mandatory fields outlined in the NG9-1-1 Data Model or CAD/mapping requirements is an important task during a GIS data improvement project. Quality control checks performed during the provisioning process to NGCS or CAD/mapping systems will review all Mandatory field attributes. QC failures could result in failure to provision the data until corrections are made.

  • Gap/overlap correction in critical polygon layers

    For critical polygon layers such as PSAP, Fire, EMS, and Law boundaries, work to resolve boundary discrepancies with neighboring agencies. Spatial Interface Operators will run QC checks on the data prior to provisioning. Discrepancy reports will be sent if gaps or overlaps are found between critical polygon layers. An unresolved gap or overlap could cause a 9-1-1 call to route to a default PSAP far from the incident, an require a call transfer that prolongs response times.

  • Automatic Location Information (ALI) to Road Centerline and Site/Structure Address Point errors

    Correct discrepancies related to street names, address ranges, and refinement zones such as MSAG Community and Emergency Service Number (ESN) values found during a synchronization assessment. Each ALI record represents a potential 9-1-1 call, and it is critical to ensure all addresses validate to ensure proper call routing and location of the caller.

Examples of a few non-critical errors found during Gap Analysis projects are road range parity, topology snapping, and Site/Structure to Road Centerline synchronization errors. These errors are lower priority, however addressing all errors contributes to higher data accuracy, swifter location of emergencies, and improved response times.

It is important to note that addressing the critical errors cannot be completed in a silo.  Communication is the key during the improvement process.  Involve other departments such as stakeholders in public safety, addressing, GIS, and Information Technology, and work with neighboring jurisdictions in the error resolution process and establish a shared repeatable workflow so everyone is on the same page and ideally the issue does not keep occurring.

Remember there are countless benefits to be gained by improving GIS data to meet the future needs of NG9-1-1.  At the same time, improving the accuracy of your Public Safety Grade GIS data will enable a more effective response and more purposeful decision-making in any current 9-1-1 system today with the ultimate benefit of reducing response times.


Contact Us to Learn More about Starting Your Own GIS Gap Analysis Project

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