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Public Safety Grade GIS: The Need for a Public Safety GIS Master Plan

Public Safety GIS data does not have to be a one-off from other City/County GIS data. All City/County departments can benefit from the improved quality of Public Safety GIS data.

The Need for a Public Safety GIS Master Plan

9-1-1/Emergency Communication Centers, Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue, EMS, and Emergency Management are mission dependent on accurate and robust GIS/mapping data to achieve maximum operational effectiveness and time efficiency. In addition, Public Safety technology systems and functionality such as ESInet/NG9-1-1, CAD/AVL Closest-Fastest Unit Dispatch, and location alerts/warnings depend entirely on accurate GIS data.

For ECC/Public Safety operations, the GIS/mapping system should be considered as crucial as the 9-1-1, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), and Radio systems. The standard of care is the same – reliable, resilient, accurate, secure, redundant, and diverse for 24/7/365 ECC/Public Safety operations.

Most jurisdictions have competing interests, roles, responsibilities, and standards regarding City-wide or County-wide GIS data. The Property Appraiser, Tax Collector, Public Works, Transportation, and other government entities have different GIS standards and requirements than Public Safety. For example, the Property Appraiser may only need a situs point in the center of a property parcel. In contrast, Public Safety requires the exact point of the house and even another point for the driveway leading to the house. In addition, Public Safety needs accurate, routable street network data (e.g., road type, one-way/two-way, speed limit, cutouts, restrictions, etc.) for a CAD/AVL system to calculate Closest-Fastest Unit Dispatch. At the same time, other City/County departments do not require that type of GIS data to complete their assignment. To be clear – Public Safety grade data is an absolute requirement. Hence the reason a Public Safety GIS Master Plan is required.

Public Safety GIS data does not have to be a one-off from other City/County GIS data. All City/County departments can benefit from the improved quality of Public Safety GIS data.

To fully leverage GIS/mapping data, a Public Safety GIS Master Plan is required. While multiple methodologies exist to develop a Public Safety GIS Master Plan, we recommend a phased process.

Phase 1 – GIS Strategic Objectives

  1. Stakeholder knowledge regarding GIS/mapping capabilities
    • Ensure personnel from leadership to end-users have a comprehensive understanding of how GIS data can be used in systems, workflows, business processes, and reports so they can provide actionable input into the development of the master plan
    • Create and complete GIS education sessions for leadership, ECC/public safety operations, and specific units/personnel (e.g., Crime Analysis, personnel who develop reports and dashboards)
    • Include ECC/Public Safety industry standards, guidelines, and best practices in the education process
  2. ECC/Public Safety Strategic objectives for the utilization of GIS/mapping data
    • Identify and prioritize all objectives the department wants to achieve via leveraging GIS data
    • Describe how GIS data will be used to become better, smarter, faster, and safer
    • Document how GIS data will be incorporated in ECC/Public Safety workflows and business processes

Phase 2 – GIS Subject Matter Expert Personnel Assessment

  1. Do SME personnel have the appropriate training, skills, experience, and expertise to achieve department objectives successfully?
  2. Do SME personnel have the bandwidth to complete department objectives in a timely manner?

 Phase 3 – Assessment of GIS applications, Infrastructure and Technology Systems

  1. Does the department have the required hardware and software to achieve department objectives?
  2. Evaluate the dependability, performance, and lifecycle of GIS hardware and software
  3. Evaluate roles and responsibilities, assignments and tasks of GIS SME personnel
  4. Evaluate equipment and applications GIS SME personnel are using
  5. Inventory and evaluate GIS data that is currently used and available for utilization
  6. Evaluate the timeliness of GIS data updates into ECC/Public Safety systems
  7. Complete an inventory of all ECC/Public Safety technology systems that can utilize GIS data
  8. Accurately document the capabilities of each system regarding the utilization of GIS data

 Phase 4 – Current State Assessment

  1. Document how all stakeholders utilize GIS data
    • ECC, Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue, EMS, and Emergency Management
    • Leadership, operations management, end-users, specialty positions
  2. Evaluate the value current state GIS data and systems are providing ECC/Public Safety personnel
  3. Document identified deficiencies and opportunities for improvement

Phase 5 – Gap Analysis

  1. Document if the current state meets or does not meet future state objectives in all areas:
    • GIS infrastructure and software
      • 1. New equipment and software requirements
      • iLifecycle replacement plan
    • GIS SME personnel
      • Training requirements
      • GIS staff requirements
      • Evaluate if an external company is required to complete a task (e.g., one-time level of effort) or perform a continuing service
    • Technology systems capabilities
      • Evaluate if current technology systems have the capabilities to meet future state requirements
      • If no, document all deficits
    • Enhance utilization of technology systems
      • Level of effort to configure current state systems to meet future state requirements
    • Quantity and quality of GIS data
      • Document the level of effort to enhance current state GIS data to meet future state requirements
    • Timeliness of updated GIS data
      • Requirements to improve the timeliness of updated GIS data
    • Standards, guidelines, and best practices
      • Document enhancements to meet future state requirements
    • Governance structure.
      • If multiple departments are involved, is a formal governance structure required to meet future state requirements?

Phase 6 – Total Cost of Ownership

  1. Identify all potential initial and recurring costs
    • Hardware
    • Software
    • GIS SME staffing
    • Training
    • External assistance (if applicable)
    • Project management – Any costs to develop and execute a Public Safety GIS Master Plan
  2. Funding approval process

 Phase 7 – Public Safety GIS Master Plan

  1. Project Plan to successfully implement the Public Safety GIS Master Plan

Winbourne Consulting has extensive experience and expertise in developing Public Safety GIS Master Plans.  Contact us to assist your agency.

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