Pass the GIS: First responders get a data-sharing app

Three Maryland counties deploy a system for sharing geospatial information

For the past decade, first responders have struggled to share critical information, despite considerable federal funding. This is especially the case at the county and municipal levels. A new data-sharing system in Maryland is a sign of progress, however, allowing emergency response personnel in three counties to share geospatial imaging and maps.

The Interoperable Data Exchange (INDEX) system supports first responders in Montgomery, Frederick and Prince George’s counties. The goal of the project is to improve public safety data-sharing by developing and delivering a standards-based, geospatially referenced data exchange between the counties.

INDEX allows managers who control maps and geospatial information for local police, fire departments, 911 operators and other county government functions to publish and share data and reports with managers in other counties automatically or on an on-demand basis. Cross-county information exchanges are especially important for coordinating various response teams when emergencies occur close to or across county borders.

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In an official release, Jack Markey, director of emergency management for Frederick County, said the INDEX project is an important step forward in first response capabilities. He said the data exchange is necessary because related efforts such as Next Generation 911 will only increase the demand for securely and rapidly sharing data to support public safety.

Besides sharing information across the public Internet, INDEX also makes use of, which allows secure data transfer between all jurisdictions in the region. The data exchange is the first delivery in a project funded by the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program that was awarded to Maryland in 2009.

Geospatial information systems managers from the three counties delivered the geographic information system data layers to Lockheed Martin, which used the information to build the INDEX system. County managers are also using the available data to build a standards-based system to share GIS information across INDEX.

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