Police officer in the field checking her laptop

Public safety workers to get GIS tools and training

Mapping software developer Esri has teamed up with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation to develop a virtual, cloud-based center to provide public safety agencies and first responders access to mapping applications and training on those tools.

NAPSG, a not-for-profit organization that aims to connect public safety and homeland security agencies , would use Esri’s ArcGIS Online platform provide responders and commanders with easy access to intuitive map visualization and analysis for emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

“We are taking the complexities of GIS and trying to demystify and put them into tools and applications that non-GIS people can use to support their operations,” said Russ Johnson, Esri’s global public safety solutions director. “We support NAPSG by providing training and by understanding the gaps in their mission that ArcGIS might be able to provide additional resources for,” he added.

Training for using the center and and its tools will  offered through workshops, and “training the trainer” sessions ,where Esri will educate department heads who would then train their departmental workers. Esri is also working with community colleges to integrate the training into their curriculums.

"Safety begins with first-responder readiness," said NAPSG executive director Peter O'Rourke, who added that the online center will give “the responder community a social platform to more effectively use GIS technology. They will have specific tools to improve planning, prevention and operational purposes."

Fire departments are among key first responders the new center aims to support. Esri will provide tools that help them do inspections in the field, develop pre-fire inspection plans, access fire hydrant inspection forms and identify potential fire hazards.

The center will also support law enforcement and national security agencies by providing  cell phone tracking tools, security management tools and hazard identification resources to help determine points of vulnerability.

“First responders have to be more efficient in what they do,” Johnson said. “They also know they have to make more intelligence-based decisions to ensure public safety.”

The center will be available to the NAPSG community in the summer of 2014.

About the Author

Mike Cipriano is a GCN editorial intern, and also writes occasionally for FCW. Connect with him on Twitter: @mikecip07.

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