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Improve emergency response with indoor GIS data

With greater numbers of people spending their lives indoors, accurate location information has never been more important for incident response. Every second counts when getting the right help to those who need it. Fortunately, highly accurate indoor GIS data is becoming more readily available and making use of this data for actionable intelligence during 9-1-1 calls is within reach. To help us understand what needs to be done, we’ve partnered with GeoComm, experts in indoor location intelligence for public safety.

Learn more about GeoComm and indoor mapping for public safety at the Building a Safer, Connected Community virtual seminar.

The following is an abridged version of content originally published by GeoComm, an Esri Inc. platinum partner.

Eighty percent of all 9-1-1 calls originate from mobile phones. More and more people are foregoing landlines and are relying on mobile phone service exclusively.

Did you know that the average citizen spends over 80 percent of their life indoors? Yet historically, the one place where 9-1-1 and emergency response teams have the most challenges is inside buildings.

Tragically, there have been cases where the inability to locate 9-1-1 callers indoors quickly has resulted in fatalities. Thankfully, the wireless industry is aware of this and is now implementing technology that calculates raw geodetic position measurements for 9-1-1 calls from mobile phones, including indoors. However, a raw geodetic position measurement is just a set of numbers, and alone does not provide actionable information about a caller’s location that could help reduce response times. Without an indoor map for public safety, a raw position measurement—while potentially very accurate and precise—is little more than a blue dot on an otherwise blank whiteboard.

Indoor maps are essential to fully unlock the life-saving potential of indoor geodetic positions of mobile phones during 9-1-1 calls. 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers will more effectively be able to communicate the location of a caller with the context (stairs, doorways, rooms, floors, etc.) of an indoor map in the 9-1-1 mapping system. ​

There is life-saving value in 9-1-1 entities gathering and aggregating indoor maps for high-profile or high-risk venues, such as schools, high-rises, and government buildings, and provisioning them into 9-1-1 mapping applications as soon as possible.

Finding a 9-1-1 caller inside a building, on the right floor location, in the right room location, and on the right map speeds the critical chain of communication to reduce response times. Imagine being dispatched to a call and having the 9-1-1 call taker or dispatcher articulate the exact indoor location of the incident!

Image showing difference between mapping a school location with and without an indoor map within the 9-1-1 mapping application

Left: Mapping a school location without an indoor map within the 9-1-1 mapping application
Right: Mapping a school location with an indoor map within the 9-1-1 mapping application

This is exactly what the Denco Area 9-1-1 District (Denco) was able to do with GeoComm Indoor Maps. Denco provides 9-1-1 services to 800,000 people in North Texas, USA. Recently, Denco worked with GeoComm to bring indoor maps to 86 public schools throughout its 33 jurisdictions.

By establishing an indoor mapping program, Denco empowered its agencies with a visual representation of indoor spaces, providing actionable location information for improved emergency response and situational awareness.

With the addition of indoor maps for their K-12 public schools, Denco is able to clearly tell where 9-1-1 calls inside school buildings are coming from. The consumable location information includes specifics such as room number, common area locations, exterior entrances, interior door locations, security cameras, and more. To learn more, read the case study.

About GeoComm

GeoComm, provider of Public Safety Location Intelligence®, serves local, regional, statewide, and military agencies in forty-nine states, helping keep more than 100 million people safe. Over the last 26 years, GeoComm’s public safety GIS systems have routed emergency calls to the appropriate 9-1-1 call center, mapped the caller’s location on a call taker or dispatcher map, and guided emergency responders to the scene of the accident on mobile displays within police, fire, and ambulance vehicles. In addition, GeoComm is one of 12 Esri Platinum Partners worldwide and the only public safety Platinum Partner, empowering the community with a unique understanding of how to maximize the value GIS in public safety. To learn more about GeoComm and its Public Safety Location Intelligence offerings, visit

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

Desmond Khor works with multi-industry stakeholders to connect stories with opportunities. As a Marketing Manager at Esri Canada, Desmond is helping to build a stronger, more connected community around technology and the business capabilities of location intelligence.

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