Building a Foundation for NG9-1-1: Closing the Gap Between PSAPs and the GIS Community
Case Study Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)
This article was originally published by Applied Geographics Inc. (AppGeo), a company acquired by The Sanborn Map Company Inc in September 2022.
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)
Fifty-one years ago, the first 911 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama. Today, the nations 911 system continues to save countless lives each year. Millions of calls are routed into 911 call centers (also known as Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs for short) each year from traditional landline phones, but now more than ever, directly from wireless phones.
With the advent of the smartphone, wireless technology is quickly changing how people are located. Uber and Lyft can accurately pinpoint your location and get you where you need to go using this technology. However, 911 technologies have been slow to keep up with smartphone technology. That’s all changing though. With the development of Next Generation 911 (NG911), smartphone technology is being leveraged to take full advantage of location based services (LBS), and GIS is at the forefront of moving PSAPs into the future.
Closing the NG9-1-1 Gap Between PSAPs and the GIS Community:
GIS layers form the foundation for call routing within the NG911 environment. PSAP boundaries, emergency service boundaries, road centerlines, and site/structure address points are just a few of the layers which the NG911 system will rely on to make sure your call accurately gets to the right PSAP, and quickly gets first responders to where they are needed. Developing comprehensive, accurate, and well maintained GIS data layers will be key to ensuring NG911 systems provide the backbone to our emergency responders. Once an NG911 system is in place, your location can be located more precisely. When you dial 911, your call will very quickly validate against GIS datasets to determine which PSAP your call should be routed to, and which jurisdiction will respond to your location.
Recently, AppGeo worked with NG911 leader GeoComm in providing NG911 standards and best practices development to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). While the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) provides an in-depth set of data standards for NG911 use, states and local jurisdictions may have specific needs that need to be met while still ensuring their data is NG911 compliant. AppGeo, utilizing the NENA GIS data standards for Road Centerlines and Site/Structure Address points, worked with PEMA’s NG911 working group to help develop Pennsylvania specific standards and best practices. This included many meetings with the working group to review the existing NENA data standards, make adjustments for Pennsylvania and help in coming up with Pennsylvania specific examples for best practices.
The standards and best practices document culminated in a series of best practices sessions delivered across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PSAP personnel, GIS staff, and other stakeholders joined these 4 hour sessions to understand how NG911 will affect them, how to ensure their data complies with NENA data standards, and how to utilize the Pennsylvania best practices to ensure a successful deployment of GIS data for NG911.
AppGeo has developed this webinar as part of the PEMA GIS Standards development project. The webinar provides insight into what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is currently doing to ensure their data successfully meets NG911 standards.