February 8, 2021

Empower 9-1-1 and response with game changing GIS data

NG9-1-1 is a game changer for the 9-1-1 community because it utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to deliver every 9-1-1 call – mobile, VoIP, and landline alike – to 9-1-1 communication centers according to a National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) report published in December 2020.

Game changers can be profound and disruptive while also producing positive effects. Utilization of GIS in the core of the 9-1-1 system is a game changer. The integrity and accuracy of GIS data is elevated to an entirely new level to meet the standards and recommendations for NG9-1-1 call routing.

GeoComm recommends a proven three step process:


  • Assess

    Gain new perspective through a GIS data assessment by taking a complete look at the current state of your GIS data and determining its NG9-1-1 readiness. 

  • Improve

    GIS data improvement may include GIS data cleanup, remediation, and enhancing your GIS data with additional layers or attributes for an NG9-1-1 system. 

  • Maintain

    Once the GIS datasets are improved, maintaining the consistency and integrity of these local, regional, and statewide GIS datasets is an important element.

Each step is important and continuous. Now, we are focusing on the importance of Maintain. Once GIS data is assessed, enhanced, and cleaned up, it is critical to implement best practices to maintain the overall quality and integrity of the data for the long-term. Considering NENA standards and recommendations, GIS best practices, and the requirements of your county, region, or state are key for developing an achievable maintenance plan.

Think of a maintenance plan like a playbook outlining how to ensure GIS data is complete, accurate, and up-to-date.  Maintenance processes can be unique for different agencies, but the importance of developing, documenting, and regularly revisiting GIS maintenance processes cannot be overstated.

“When we work with a public safety agency on a GIS maintenance project, one of the first steps and the most critical component for successful ongoing maintenance, is development of workflows and standard operating procedures (SOP),” states GeoComm GIS Project Manager, Jessica Beierman, GISP, ENP, PMP.  “Workflows should delineate processes by indicating who is responsible for each task and note the frequency.  Workflows and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should also be reviewed and/or updated on a regular basis.”

Successful workflows will clearly identify individual or department roles and responsibilities, and will encompass three main categories:

  • Data Adjustments

    Processes and timelines for incorporating changes into GIS databases such as new addresses, annexations, Emergency Service Boundary (ESB) changes, or new roads.

  • Quality Control

    Identify errors in GIS data through rigorous quality control (QC) checks that span from NENA GIS Data Model Compliant QC checks to GIS best practices QC checks for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) mapping solutions

  • Data Provisioning

    Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) processes and frequency rate for uploading most current data into local public safety systems and the NG9-1-1 core services functions.

“Each agency we work with approaches their maintenance plan a little differently to ensure it meets their needs and requirements,” Beierman explains. “We advise that maintaining GIS data for public safety is a continuous activity with stringent accuracy and turnaround requirements which can put strain on local GIS personnel that typically service multiple departments with different obligations and standards. A solid maintenance plan will help departments with their efficiency and effectiveness for supplying GIS data for critical NG9-1-1 systems.”

GeoComm has found that agencies typically approach their maintenance plan in one of three ways.

  • In-house – 9-1-1 and GIS teams utilize their own staff and technological infrastructure for NG9-1-1 GIS maintenance, scripting, and ETL operations.

  • Hybrid – 9-1-1 and GIS teams share responsibility for some tasks with vendor support based on different maintenance workflows.

  • Outsource – 9-1-1 and GIS teams work with a vendor throughout the entire assess, improve, and maintain process

As local agencies create and/or update their NG9-1-1 GIS maintenance requirements and responsibilities they will determine which maintenance option best fits their staffing and budget to meet the new public safety requirements on GIS data.

As the NSGIC report stated, NG9-1-1 is a gamechanger with the biggest impacts falling on the use of GIS data.  As such, GeoComm recognizes that assessing, improving, and developing a plan to maintain the accuracy of GIS data is an important under-taking for public safety and GIS agencies.  This proven process enables a more effective response and more purposeful decision-making in any current and future 9-1-1 system with the ultimate benefit of reducing response times and putting the right location data, on the right map, for the right people, at the right time.

Want to learn more? Join us on March 5 at 11am CST to learn more about database migrations and how transitional systems can impact your maintenance processes.





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