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2020 In Review: Building a Stronger Public Safety GIS Community

January 4, 2021

Seeking Opportunities Amid the Challenges
2020 has been a year without precedent, punctuated by incredible successes and near-impossible challenges, none of which we will soon forget. It presented unique opportunities for us to make meaningful and positive impacts on the public safety and GIS communities. As this year comes to a close, we take a moment to look back at moments DATAMARK empowered our industry and clients to come together and overcome extraordinary challenges.

The First Ever Public Safety Virtual Conference
Adapting to work-from-home and restrictions on travel challenged our conventional abilities to network with colleagues, clients, and partners, and drove a rapid cancelation of regional and national conferences. DATAMARK saw opportunity in these challenges and hosted the first ever virtual Public Safety Conference from March 30th through April 3rd.

This five-day event drew in nearly 1,000 attendees and featured industry-renowned speakers including Ricardo Martinez II, creator and host of Within the Trenches podcast and founder of the #IAM911 movement, Adam Timm from The Healthy Dispatcher, representatives from NENA and Esri, and members of the public safety community. Recordings from the 2020 virtual Public Safety Conference are available online and can be viewed HERE.

We will be hosting another conference in 2021, planned for April. Pre-register for updates on the virtual event here.

Public Safety Benefit Concert for NENA with Country Music’s Craig Morgan
We were proud to partner with country music artist Craig Morgan to host a virtual concert benefiting NENA: The 9-1-1 Association. Craig, a former EMT and US Army veteran, stole the show at NENA Ignite in September as he honored the unsung heroes behind the headset. Proceeds from the benefit concert helped NENA deliver education and resources to 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, and PSAPs. Craig answered questions from the public safety community and the concert was viewed by 9-1-1 professionals across the country.

Expanding Public Safety GIS Education Across the Country
We have delivered training to GIS and public safety and GIS professionals across the country and were pleased to play an integral role supporting the Florida Chapter of NENA by delivering introductory and intermediate level NG9-1-1 GIS workshops to more than 60 counties in the state. DATAMARK was also awarded a contract with the State of Oklahoma to develop a comprehensive NG9-1-1 GIS training curriculum to be delivered to local agencies in support of the State’s NG9-1-1 implementation. 

Public Safety and NG9-1-1 GIS Webinars
DATAMARK is dedicated to connecting the public safety and GIS communities through education and collaboration. In 2020, we conducted a webinar series focused on GIS concepts tied to 9-1-1 and NG9-1-1 delivered by subject matter experts with decades of collective experience. Each webinar addresses key points of GIS data management and NG9-1-1 GIS readiness and builds on previous sessions. Webinars are free to attend, are held on select Tuesdays each month, and each session’s recording is made available to the community for free. The 2021 webinar calendar and registration information can be found HERE.

DATAMARK VEP Supports Mission-Critical Work-From-Home Operations
VEP, our industry-leading software solution for GIS data Validation, Editing, and Provisioning into 9-1-1 and NG9-1-1 environments, leverages cloud-native architecture and requires no additional backroom equipment or workstation licensing. This has enabled our clients to maintain continuity of mission-critical GIS data management operations through the challenges presented by the abrupt shift to remote office and work-from-home environments.

“Nobody at Manatee County was thinking about working from home because of a global pandemic when we picked VEP. We are glad we picked a cloud solution because we have been able to continue our workflows without interruption.”
Glenna Campana
Manatee County, Florida

VEP Enhancements in 2020
Our product team is constantly looking at ways to improve the function, features, and value of VEP and works closely with our clients to ensure we are meeting their GIS data management needs. Improvements and upgrades are delivered at no additional charge to users of the VEP solution. In 2020, we made a number of key enhancements to VEP, including:

Release of VEP Aggregator
In 2020, our team worked diligently to develop VEP Aggregator, which enables clients to consolidate GIS data from multiple sources into a single database, perform cross-jurisdictional validations on the aggregated dataset, identify anomalies in the data, and export the aggregated dataset. This new subscription level of VEP opens lanes of communication across jurisdictional boundaries that have never been available through other public safety GIS software.

VEP Editor: Auto Road Range Assignment
VEP Editor now includes Road Range assignment functionality that allows editors to assign address ranges to existing road centerline segments. This enhancement streamlines public safety GIS data creation and management workflows, improving accuracy and efficiency.

VEP Editor: Auto Addressing Assignment
VEP Editor users now have the ability to make address assignments on existing structures and parcels of land. Using road centerline range data, VEP performs calculations and interpolates street address numbers based on the user’s cursor location along a road segment.

Creating Statewide NG9-1-1 GIS Partnerships
2020 was a watershed year for DATAMARK’s mission of delivering GIS data solutions and services to states making the transition to NG9-1-1. We are proud of the strategic partnerships made with Maine and Alabama to improve the accuracy, quality, and reliability of their GIS data and to prepare them for NG9-1-1. These partnerships will be critical to the long-term success of statewide NG9-1-1 projects, and we look forward to working with additional states in the coming years.

“The Alabama 9-1-1 Board’s goal is to work in partnership with Emergency Communication Districts of Alabama to facilitate and promote effective, efficient and reliable 9-1-1 service statewide to the residents and visitors of our great state.

Each action taken by the Board is meant to improve service in every aspect as we deploy the technology that serves as the next generation of 9-1-1 for our stakeholders, which includes the person(s) in need, the personnel staffing our 9-1-1 centers, the field responders and any other partner agencies that provide safety for our public.

Embarking on this next component of the modernization of our 9-1-1 system with DATAMARK will allow GIS data to take on a mission-critical role and gives life to our GIS Program.”
Leah Missildine, Executive Director
Alabama 9-1-1 Board

Educational Benefit with GIS Colorado for Colorado Search and Rescue Association
In January, the DATAMARK team partnered with GIS Colorado, a non-profit organization representing Colorado’s GIS community, to deliver our Beyond the 98™ educational session. All proceeds from this event were donated to the Colorado Search and Rescue Association. Beyond the 98™ discusses a number of issues related to GIS for public safety and considerations for the creation, management, and deployment of GIS data for NG9-1-1.

Looking Ahead to 2021
The DATAMARK team was faced with many of the same difficulties and challenges as our clients. As we adjusted to working from home, holding meetings virtually rather than in person, and striving to meet each of our clients’ unique public safety GIS goals. We’ve all heard “we’re in this together,” but that ethos has been woven into the fabric of who we are at DATAMARK. Through the struggles of 2020, we worked creatively to forge strong relationships and lasting partnerships, and these lay the foundation for where we go in 2021. Every one of us here looks forward to being a part of your success and achieving your goals, and we look forward to the year to come.