Location, Location, Location: Enhancing Texas Public Safety with GIS
February is Public Safety Month at Connected Nation. In addition to objectives of expanding broadband and technology awareness and adoption throughout local communities, CN is also working to highlight the use of GIS in various public safety agencies. Location is everything during an emergency; GIS provides the functionality to collect and manage large databases while in a fast-paced decision-making environment.
GIS analysis and maps are used for everything from developing the public safety network to tracking criminal activity or emergency response routes. With the increases in technological capabilities, more and more agencies are being expected to use GIS to identify patterns and trends and to calculate potential efficiencies that can be brought to light through the various analysis tools that GIS offers.
Through data collection efforts to obtain broadband connectivity data, Connected Nation is tracking the use of broadband at various Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs), including police departments, hospitals, and fire departments. Outreach to and survey of these public safety agencies helps build awareness and establish a centralized database of key connectivity data for planning.
Using GIS also helps in visualizing where the most disasters have occurred across the country and allows for tracking warning areas for weather forecasting. Recently, CN added public safety data layers to the state-based interactive mapping applications called My ConnectViewTM. These data layers include FEMA Presidential Disaster Declarations from 1964-2011, National Weather Service County Warning Zones, and National Weather Service Fire Weather Forecast Zones. The display of this information demonstrates the power of GIS in identifying historical patterns and tracking storms though various jurisdictions.
To see the new public safety data on My ConnectView, visit the interactive map page on the state website: http://www.connectedtx.org/interactive-map. As this month continues, we look forward to sharing your stories about how broadband helped you in an emergency situation and we hope you’ll provide your feedback today."