Pennsylvania plans first-response GIS

Pennsylvania officials are using a $603,000 grant from the Homeland Security Department to pump up the state's emergency response system with geospatial tools.

Jim Knudson, director of the Geospatial Technologies Bureau in the IT Office, said the state will hire a vendor this summer to upgrade the Pennsylvania Emergency Incident Response System.

'Our current incident response system captures most things as text but not as geospatial' information, Knudson said.

The project's goal is to establish information sharing among the 10 state agencies that have emergency response functions.

State officials will add several geographic information system services to PEIRS: mapping, emergency-vehicle routing, geocoding that links addresses to map coordinates, plume modeling that tracks airborne substances and spatial searches.

Knudson said the contractor will design and implement the systems, as well as train users. 'We hope to have as much done in six months as possible,' he said.

The project calls for a password-protected site that state agencies can access and upload geospatial data to, Knudson said.

The GIS bureau now uses apps from ESRI of Redlands, Calif., Knudson said. It also has set up its systems based on the open standards developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. of Wayland, Mass., to ensure interoperability with other vendors' products.

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