GIS Boundaries in an NG9-1-1 Environment – Just Tell Me Where to Move the Line

September 27, 2019

Several GIS boundary datasets are required to support 911 call routing in a NG9-1-1 environment. These include:

  • PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) Boundary – The geographic area of the 9-1-1 service area in an ESInet.
  • ESB (Emergency Service Boundary) – The geographic area representing the dispatch responsibility of emergency service agencies (fire/rescue, law enforcement and emergency medical services).
  • Provisioning Boundary – The geographic area of GIS data provisioning responsibility; determines the entity responsible for discrepancy resolutions.

These boundaries need to be spatially coincident with all neighboring boundaries to ensure proper call routing and emergency service delivery. Gaps and overlaps between the boundaries need to be reviewed and collective decisions need to be made when making adjustments, such as from one PSAP boundary to another. Gaps in the boundaries indicate areas of no coverage and ovelaps represent mulitple coverages which may cause improper routing of a 911 call and could cause delays in emergency services (police, fire, and EMS) response.

To achieve seamless boundaries, coordination and collaboration among all stakeholders is paramount. Because of this, DATAMARK offers boundary facilitation workshops with PSAPs to assist in pulling together all stakeholders to review boundary discrepancies, document the discussion and adjustment decisions, and provide best practice guidance. The adjustments are made in a GIS system and then the seamless boundaries are provisioned into a NG9-1-1 system.

“Just tell me where to move the line,” is a phrase muttered all too often from GIS stakeholders involved in NG9-1-1 boundary facilitation discussions. This may sound crass or insincere to someone hearing this statement, but as GIS practitioners, we understand this statement. We are trained to create and manipulate geospatial data. We can enter into an edit session and adjust an existing boundary in a matter of minutes, all while ensuring the spatial integrity of the data . We can generate new boundaries using orthoimagery, coordinates and other spatial information. However, we rely on our Public Safety counterparts to understand and relay to us the business needs of 911 response that drive the placement of these boundaries. Public Safety officials know if there are existing MOUs in place, if there are challenges with access to properties along the boundaries and who is responsible for responding based off institutional knowledge, the MSAG, and other pieces of information.

Meeting with key stakeholders from neighboring jurisdictions provides a platform to share and discuss boundary adjustments. The Public Safety stakeholders rely on GIS personnel to interpret and act on decisions made during these discussions. Conversely, GIS personnel rely on Public Safety stakeholders to provide the background information, driving how they make adjustments. Working side-by-side will ensure the boundaries utilized in NG9-1-1 are accurate and seamless across borders and were driven by the business needs of 911.

By: Stephanie McCowat

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