The Benefits of Public Safety and GIS Collaboration

May 17, 2019

Accurate addressing data is of paramount importance to all Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) stakeholders, yet confusion lingers as to who “owns” the geographic information system (GIS) data, as well as its synchronization and ongoing maintenance. Public safety and GIS staff must take a collaborative approach to creating, maintaining and managing processes for an effective information system.

Currently, public safety answering points (PSAPs) rely on multiple, and sometimes inconsistent, datasets to properly route first responders to the scene of an emergency. These datasets include automatic location information (ALI), master street address guides (MSAG) and the NG9-1-1 required GIS data. When the addressing data is synchronized across platforms, public safety telecommunicators can accurately verify the location of a caller and quickly dispatch emergency services.

Synchronizing the data is a massive undertaking but also the first step for NG9-1-1 preparedness. This process uncovers incorrect or incomplete data, or data that exists in only one database. For technical accuracy, 9-1-1 authorities should work with internal GIS experts to provision address point data for PSAPs. Agencies may also choose to partner with a public safety GIS software vendor, like DATAMARK, to collect and maintain GIS data. Our technical experts are spread across the United States and actively work with and educate public safety constituents on GIS data best practices. Our SaaS solution, DATAMARK VEP, makes it easy for GIS and non-GIS users to integrate disparate data sources ensuring updated addressing information is consumable in the Next Generation Core Services (NGCS).

After synchronizing existing data sources, public safety agencies and GIS staff develop processes and procedures collaboratively that maintain the accuracy of the GIS data. Address and road data changes frequently to support a non-public safety system. This data must be re-evaluated for data quality on a purposeful cycle to ensure no errors are introduced and that new data was entered properly. A data maintenance workflow or policy should be implemented at both the interagency and neighboring jurisdiction level to ensure all parties have access to mission-critical addressing data. A GIS data solution purpose-built for NG9-1-1, like DATAMARK VEP, integrates data from multiple sources and ensures seamless support for addressing authorities.

The effective collaboration between public safety and GIS groups will, without a doubt, improve the outcome of incoming emergency calls. Synchronized and maintained GIS data can support more effective response and can help to minimize miscommunication leading to the enhanced performance of all 9-1-1 and emergency response systems. The synchronization of GIS data can benefit communities as improved GIS supports current and future 9-1-1 systems putting those communities in a better position for the full transition to NG9-1-1. For more information on partnering with DATAMARK for GIS synchronization and maintenance, please visit our website or reach out. Ensuring the accuracy of your GIS data today, means saving a life tomorrow.

By: Stephanie McCowat

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