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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Bringing GIS Indoors with InVision 2.1

August 3rd, 2016 by Susan Smith

PenBay Solutions’ chief technology officer, Stuart Rich, spoke with me at Esri UC 2016 in San Diego about the company’s leveraging of GIS to solve facilities management problems.

InVision-Safety-Security-LCD-Duo-650wAccording to company materials, their Invision 2.1 software suite from PenBay Solutions helps authorized users solve mission-critical challenges throughout the facility lifecycle—saving time and money, protecting lives and assets, and creating safe and productive environments for site visitors and building occupants.

InVision informs your mission-critical decisions by rendering your facilities portfolio—campuses, buildings, grounds, infrastructure, utilities, security systems, and assets—as they exist in the real world using data-rich, interactive maps, georeferenced floor plans (i.e., FloorMaps™), and graphical representations. This visual approach to organizing facility management data improves the insight, collaboration, and control you have over the initiatives that impact your strategic goals. Whether your challenges are simple or complex, InVision helps you more accurately understand and evaluate:

  • what you have,
  • where it is,
  • what condition it’s in
  • what is needed,
  • when it’s needed,
  • who’s in charge,
  • and what it will cost.

PenBay Solutions offers FM solutions for the National Institute of Health, Smithsonian, Department of Energy, U.S. Treasury and the DHA, among others. Their goal is to bring GIS into the building for FM operations, safety and security using data interoperability tools from CAD that can be then integrated into a GIS.

One of their very interesting clients has been the city of New York and New Jersey, both of whom had to come together to plan the Super Bowl XLVIII.

A week long series of events along the well-known New York thoroughfare Broadway preceded the Super Bowl, and obviously a public safety and emergency response plan was necessary for these events that attracted tens of thousands of people. The New York Fire Department (FDNY) worked with several agencies including HYPD, OEM, New York City Department of Transportation, New Jersey OEM, Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, New York State OEM, New Jersey OIT, the FBI, the Mayor’s Office, DOH and New York City DoITT – Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication to come up with such a plan.

Pre-game events such as parties, press events, and concerts turned Broadway into a Super Bowl Boulevard before and during the event. For those in charge of maintaining public safety for the millions of people involved, these events presented big challenges. The Fire Department of New York worked with PenBay Solutions to roll out a new event management system to support planning and operations throughout the Super Bowl and during the weeks preceding it.

Captain Steven Pollackov of FDNY’s GIS Unit said, “Between the two jurisdictions (New York and New Jersey), Super Bowl activities covered 197 square miles. And we had a very short timeline to implement a system that was up to meeting a vast array of public safety challenges surrounding the big event.”

Since 2012, the FDNY GIS Unit has been using InVision Software and asked PenBay Solutions for more InVision modules and capabiltiies to be able to address the complex public safety challenges of managing the hundreds of pre-Super Bowl events.

The system they used was delivered using InVision Secure and Esri ArcGIS Online to provide key capabilities to FDNY that included situational awareness, operations and planning.

InVision Secure for risk analysis, emergency planning, event planning, and emergency response uses location as the organizing principle to create order out of complex safety and security information. As previously isolated data comes together, you can visualize it on screen as you actually see it in the real world. Use maps to compare indoor floor plans (i.e., InVision FloorMaps), outdoor site plans, access control systems, CCTV feeds, and other asset locations and attributes—any information that is relevant to the safety and security of your people and facilities.

Only those people given user access were allowed to view approved and authorized event plans. In terms of operations, operational users were kept up to date on the data, and were always looking at the same data that was also used in printed maps. With InVision Secure, FDNY could also allow users to access building information, live video feeds, venue schematics, pre-incident guidelines, and emergency action plans. The system made it possible for field users to create field notes from their mobile devices and attach photos. This data was viewed at the command centers immediately.

Because the application was so successful, the department purchased 25 iPads just for the event, according to Captain Pollackov. Situational awareness was vastly improved when field personnel could take photos and add points to the map.

The search engine in InVision Secure enabled authorized users to search and find their resources. “The search feature was invaluable for making quick and accurate decisions throughout the event,” said Pollackov.

Those working events could see exactly what was going on that day and you could also request to see a span of several days’ activities in a system that constantly refreshed.

According to the website, InVision supports workflows such as:

  • Perform spatial-temporal risk analysis, and identify hotspots both outdoors and indoors
  • View building floor plans within a map and understand complex infrastructure
  • Create and manage emergency pre-plans using multiple agency templates
  • Support multi-agency special event planning and management
  • Track the location of items on floor plans, such as fire extinguishers, HAZMAT storage cabinets or other critical assets
  • Perform field inspections of outdoor or indoor assets, such as fire hydrants or CCTV cameras
  • Provide situational awareness to operations – view live CCTV, CAD/AVL, BlueForce Tracking data in the map view
  • Enable field access for personnel for inspections or incident response



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Categories: 3D Cities, analytics, ArcPad, Big Data, citizen science, cloud, data, developers, emergency response, Esri, geospatial, GIS, GPS, handhelds, indoor location technology, iPhone, location based sensor fusion, location based services, mapping, mobile, Open Source, public safety, resilient cities, satellite imagery, spatial data, utilities

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