Jane is hungry. It’s 11 a.m. and she’s enjoying a lazy Saturday morning. She opens the Uber Eats app on her phone, orders, and her food arrives on her doorstep, quickly. Then, as she eats, she revels in the simplicity, speed, and accuracy, today’s consumer demands. What’s jarring is that Jane, who gets sushi delivered to her doorstep from her cell phone, may suffer unthinkable consequences in an emergency because she lives on a county line and 9-1-1 technology does not yet have the nationwide GIS data capabilities of Uber Eats. That call transfer, or the redeployment of first responders, may be the difference between life and death.

To combat these issues, PSAPs around the country are upgrading to Next Generation 9-1-1 where core services will be driven by quality GIS data that will locate Jane through her mobile device, saving time and maybe her life.

In this article we’ll dive into GIS data, the importance of quality GIS, how we get data ready to use, and the issues with our current system. But first, let’s take a look at the issues we experience today with legacy call handling equipment.

The Issues with Legacy Call Handling Equipment Location Deliverywoman-with-glasses-looking-intently-at-screen-to-study-GIS-data

The main issues with legacy location delivery is that it was designed 50 years ago and specifically for use with wired landlines. PSAPs still using legacy networks and the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) to validate location and route calls can only offer band-aid solutions to accommodate mobile devices while the mobile-only home becomes the norm.

This stop-gap approach may also require callers to verbally validate their location wasting valuable minutes, and is limited for callers who are injured, disoriented, or hard of hearing.

What is GIS (Geographic Information System)

GIS is the most important foundational component in the migration to an NG9-1-1 environment that supports location validation and emergency call routing. It is a computer system designed to capture, store, analyze, manage, and present virtually all types of spatial/geographic data. Streets, buildings, vegetation, and more are layered in maps to provide precise location information of emergency callers. Once a location is confirmed, GIS supports the call routing to the closest PSAP avoiding transfers and delayed dispatch.

Importance of Quality GIS

In our nation’s capital, it’s reported that over 100,000 emergency calls per year are sent to the wrong 9-1-1 call center. Those are scary numbers with deadly consequences that can be avoided with quality GIS.

The highest quality GIS data is sourced from local jurisdictions that follow NENA standards and best practices to support NG9-1-1. Thus, ensuring it is accurate, validated, up-to-date, and complete.

While it may be tempting to use free TIGER (U.S. Census Bureau Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing) data for call routing, it offers incomplete data attribution and poor spatial accuracy which is why it does not meet NENA standards.

Additionally, incomplete and subpar GIS data will contradict the goals of NG9-1-1 by introducing errors, omitting locations, and putting every benefit of the NG9-1-1 convironment at risk of not working.

With quality GIS you get:

  • Call-routing accuracy
  • Reduced call transfers
  • Actionable data with call delivery
  • Reducing response time to incident

How to get your GIS data Ready to Use

The process of getting GIS data ready to use in i3 format takes time and patience, as well as, a thorough plan and collaboration. This stage is paramount to the readiness process and critical to improving call routing.

  • Develop standards for road centerlines, site structures, address points, attribution, SOPs, and others.
  • Collaborate regionally to develop boundaries.
  • Populate SI components, aggregating data and validating across jurisdictions.
  • Run parallel tests of legacy routing vs spatial routing and refine the data.
  • Deploy spatial implementation and ongoing maintenance.
  • Then, move GIS into the NG9-1-1 environment and you’re ready to utilize the emergency call routing function (ECRF).

Ensure you have Quality GIS Data

There is no substitute for quality GIS data in your migration to next generation 9-1-1. With the implementation of quality GIS, your NGCS becomes location driven. Therefore, we can determine the location of a caller quicker and route a call more efficiently to the right PSAP.

Consider Jane, and next time she calls 9-1-1. Will you know where she’s located and save the minutes that save her life?

Contact Synergem to learn more about next generation 9-1-1 and how we integrate GIS data into our suite of core services. Also, learn more about how we have supported PSAPS around the country with their migration to the 21st century.