Magazine / Emergency & Crisis Management Jul 12, 2021 10:08:52 AM

GIS: why it is a key part of a PSAP’s emergency response

When it comes to emergency response, every second is vital. Pinpointing the incident information on a map is the key to quickly dispatch the most appropriate unit and save lives. A Geographic Information System is therefore a key component of any emergency management platform; it delivers clear and real data on the caller and the scene, helping the dispatcher decide on the most appropriate action.

What is a GIS?

The Geographical Information System (GIS) is a system used to map, analyze, and display relevant information on a map. It is used in all sorts of industries and fields to analyze, communicate, and operate complex and simple problems.

In an emergency PSAP the GIS is a vital part of the Computer Aided Dispatch. It usually connects location and geographical information data and puts it on the map. Dispatchers use it to figure out where resources are and how best to use them to deal with the emergency.

The GIS also helps define patterns, geographical context, and availability to generate reports which help improve the PSAP response protocols and better the response. All in all, a GIS supports the PSAP dispatcher in managing the situation based on real time data on a map.

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What does the GIS show?


The GIS usually includes a map with immersive cartography, complete with the list of vehicles, resources, POIs, and pathways. The informational map thus provides a bird’s eye view not only of the incident location, but of its surroundings, helping to define the correct response strategy. Points of Interest, such as hospitals, fire stations, mass gathering centers are clearly marked not only to locate the nearest help center but also to support the caller in identifying particulars of their locations if they do not know where they are.

Maps are interactive; dispatcher can switch between static and dynamic layers to view the area from different angles, according to the emergency; an incident in a mountain path might be better understood through a different map than one in the city center. One might focus more on the geographical details, the other on streets, buildings, and traffic.

All in all, GIS should display the caller location data form all sources (GPS, AML, eCall, localization on cell triangulation), display real time data of all POIs, resources, events, and real time movements (AVL), show updated geo coded addresses, calculate the best vehicles and route to reach the incident, integrate real time traffic data. The data should be displayed in all main map formats.

Navigation and Dispatch

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Part of the data collected by the GIS is traffic and road data. This information is displayed on the map to support the dispatcher in deciding the best route and course of action to reach the incident location.

Every vehicle and on field professional is displayed in real time, as the maps can link to their mobile devices. The system can automatically pick the most appropriate one based on set parameters, such as proximity, departure, or arrival time.

Because sometimes the closest vehicle might not be the fastest one to reach the scene. The map is updated every few seconds and plans and options may vary according to the real unfolding of events. Beta 80 integrates its CAD with Waze, to gather real time information from drivers.


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