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NG9-1-1: Is everyone using the same data?

The Next-Generation 9-1-1 will require GIS data to be consistent, accurate and current, and available to all public safety stakeholders. Learn more about current issues in GIS data that need to be assessed and resolved. In this blog post, Holly Barkwell, Canadian Region Director of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), elaborates upon current issues in GIS data that need to be assessed and resolved.

As we transition to the Next-Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) environment, one thing to remember is that municipalities will continue to be the primary source of GIS data which will continue to be consumed by local PSAPs and responders (Fire, Police and Ambulance), and the provincial level 9-1-1 service providers.

Currently, data from the GIS department can differ from the data used at the PSAPs and the 9-1-1 service providers. Standards development will reduce the differences over time, but for now, we need to look at making data workflows and processes more efficient.

Here are a couple of examples of how these discrepancies in data can occur:

Corrections by PSAPs

Let’s start with the fire department. Fire officials may identify an issue with the addressing–may be a missing or incorrect address. The PSAP operators in the fire department might update their CAD data to temporarily resolve the issue but not necessarily report it back to the GIS department. 

The police, ambulance and 9-1-1 service providers will not even know that there is an issue with the data. They will not have a ‘fix’ until the GIS department makes the change and provides a refresh to the system.

Additions by PSAPs

The police department decides that they need trails or areas of interest, such as shopping areas or school zones in their system. The department adds them as best as they can. Unbeknownst to the police department, the GIS department is maintaining these data in the corporate GIS database. 

The emerging, national GIS data specifications for NG9-1-1 should go a long way to addressing the issues mentioned above. These specifications will have three classifications of content: required, strongly recommended and recommended. The specifications also lay down a minimum accuracy and currency standard for the content.

Municipalities will need to review these specifications in the context of their data and their data management practices. Policies and workflows will need to be developed to ensure that the standards for updates are adhered to.

The City of Guelph and Esri Canada recently teamed up to perform an NG9-1-1 GAP Analysis to identify Guelph NG9-1-1 data management challenges and to develop strategies for addressing them. These will be presented at Esri Canada’s upcoming user conference on Oct 8- 9 in Toronto.

Join us at these sessions at the Toronto Congress Centre to find out more about how Guelph plans to have its GIS data NG9-1-1 compliant. Register now!

About the Author

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

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