1. #1
    Banned

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    8,677

    Default Geographical Information System for Incident pre-planning and response

    I searched the forums and found nothing on this topic. I am looking for departments that are using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for incident pre-plans and/or incident response. Is anyone using anything like this or do you know of anyone who is using it?

    I am currently putting a project together that would put GPS systems on the trucks, ruggedized laptop computers with touchscreens, and an information system that would show the location of the incident as well as water sources, hazardous sites, and numerous other things.

    Feel free to ask any questions as well.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, New York
    Posts
    57

    Default Try using free tools first!

    My department has danced around this idea for quite some time - and most software packages are highly expensive.

    I strongly suggest looking at free stuff before buying an expensive COTS solution.

    For example, for $59.99 a month, you can get a Sprint Mobile Broadband network card for a laptop and simply use http://maps.google.com to enter in addresses to get a map of the location and directions on how to get there. This type of solution would only cost you a one-time hardware cost (laptop plus phone hardware) and a monthly fee. I suspect that depending on the COTS software you might buy, you would most likely need/want a internet connection anyways.

    Regarding preplanning, which is a more complex issue, you could try just taking notes and developing a simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheet/Word document and store these on your laptop. You could name them accordingly, and then just load the right one when the call comes in - for example, if you have a Wal-Mart store, you could just save a "wal-mart.doc" file as the preplan document. This allows your members to find it relatively easy when the call goes out.

    If you plan on preplanning ALOT of locations, then this probably isn't the way to go - but you could alternatively use a desktop search engine (either the built-in Microsoft search or Google Desktop) to find preplan files more efficiently - both of which are free.

    Hope that helps!

    Regards,

    Richard M. Spackmann
    Fire Commissioner
    Greenfield Fire District
    http://www.RichardSpackmann.com

  3. #3
    Banned

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    8,677

    Default

    Actually my thoughts on the system are to have a centralized county wide database that would allow the mutual aid departments to share the data. The system could even include a database of available resources. We live in an area with poor communications, so the data would all need to reside locally.

    The system is more than just an incident locater. For instance, with a GPS enabled system we could tell how far from the water source or hydrant to the scene. Additionally, we could tell how far from the highway to the scene.

    I do appreciate the input. Based on the responses it appears not too many people are doing anything. I know that NYC is using GIS, I just don't know to what extent.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    1,063

    Default

    There are tons of these type of projects out there. If the metro fire departments in your area don't have them, check with the local LEOs. Most PD's have some type of wireless, ruggidized lap-top in them, and along with the usual info - DL numbers, warrants, etc, they have GIS information.

    I can't remember the name of the one we use, but it is linked to our CAD program - I think it is produced by Innograph(sp?) and uses Arcview(sp?) shapefiles as the mapping software.

    From what I understand about the program, it is important to have comms that is capable of supporting high volumes of data. If you are currently using analog VHF for everything it may get spendy.

    I am sure any information I posted will be vetted by the nutjobs in the radio huts that are on here. So I apologize in advance for any technically inaccurate data. I'm just a fireman.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    We're just starting the same project. Still doing the initial research and putting together an RFP. As you mentioned, the hardware is fairly straightforward. There are a lot more choices/options for software.

    I'm a huge fan of google maps, but I'm not sure if it would be applicable to an MDT system. It allows "user maps" but that's about it. No overlays, GIS layers, links to documents based on address..etc. In addition, you have to have a connection to the internet for it to work. I haven't looked at Google Earth, which is a standalone-version. That may be better.

    While I'm all for tinkering and hacking together something for my home use, I'm not sure I'd want to do so for the FD. Sometimes you get what you pay for. One of the things you pay for with a turnkey solution is installation, integration, and support. They make sure it works on your trucks and all the equipment plays well, then supports it every year for patches, updates, problems..etc. Depending on how many you have in your trucks that could easily be a full-time job if you try to do it on your own.

    Also keep in mind that what works on a laptop at your desk may not work too well in the field. The system has to be pretty idiot proof. The officer has enough to do while in route without "open this", "click that", "scroll to this".. etc.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  6. #6
    Banned

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    8,677

    Default

    LMAO "Idiot Proof" I talked to a salesman one time who told me they used to try to make meters that were idiot proof. They just kept inventing better idiots!!

    For sure the system needs to be user friendly and easy to use. Not a lot of bells and whistles as you say.

    As for the communications, we live in an area that has poor communication, because of that, the data would have to be local. I envision a central server that pushes out updates via a secure channel. The information in a system like this could be very valuable to a thief, terrorist, or other bad guy. You certainly don't want things like floor plans, an incident pre-plans available to the public. Anyone with malicious intent would be able to use your work against you.

    ArcGIS appears to be the industry leader with this stuff. Although MAPinfo is a close second. In NYS there are a large number of data sets already set up with political boundaries, 911 addresses, roads, rivers, etc. Our past chief (now deceased) started this project in 2002 or so. He had set up landing zones and water sources. Since then the technology has really evolved and more data sets are available. The real value of a system like this is to have the information available in the field. Having it on a desktop in the office is nice, but really doesn't help much.

    I have found a piece of COTS that seems to do it. It can be found at http://www.ironcompassmap.com, it is called On-Scene Xplorer.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    As for the communications, we live in an area that has poor communication, because of that, the data would have to be local. I envision a central server that pushes out updates via a secure channel.
    I agree that most of the data needs to be local. We're in the emergency services and shouldn't rely on Cell/Internet connectivity.

    We were talking about having a wireless router at each station that would push out updates while the trucks were parked. Once they leave the station each unit would be self contained for the most part.

    We haven't started looking at specific software packages yet, still trying to get our requirements/RFP's in place. I know On-Scene was one mentioned and it doesn't look too bad from the screenshots. Also check out First-Look pro.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  8. #8
    Banned

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    8,677

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    I agree that most of the data needs to be local. We're in the emergency services and shouldn't rely on Cell/Internet connectivity.

    We were talking about having a wireless router at each station that would push out updates while the trucks were parked. Once they leave the station each unit would be self contained for the most part.

    We haven't started looking at specific software packages yet, still trying to get our requirements/RFP's in place. I know On-Scene was one mentioned and it doesn't look too bad from the screenshots. Also check out First-Look pro.
    Great minds must think alike. I was considering the same thing. Each station would have a server connected to the LAN using a VPN connection to the main database housed in dispatch. The local server would then push the updates out to the trucks using a secure wireless channel.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Pre incident planning ???
    By alducks in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-06-2008, 12:49 AM
  2. Incident Command System
    By KevinFFVFD in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 12-20-2006, 01:01 PM
  3. Run Sheet / Incident Information
    By jasonnt in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-15-2005, 09:28 AM
  4. Incident Command System
    By hotboy in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 46
    Last Post: 03-14-2004, 01:09 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register