ArcPad Provides Staff with Improved Field Data Capture, Management, and Access
Redlands, California—The City of Dover, Delaware, now deploys a groundbreaking mobile geographic information system (GIS) application that helps provide optimized emergency management and response capabilities. The application was successfully used during the city’s hosting of an annual NASCAR sports car racing event in September 2006. Utilizing ArcPad software on a GPS-enabled mobile laptop, the city fire marshal used powerful GIS functionality in the field to perform a number of functions including ordinance enforcement, event monitoring, and incident response routing.
"I was approached by our city fire marshal, who was very much in favor of GIS, to discuss the challenges of managing such a large event and what he wanted to accomplish," says Mark Nowak, GIS coordinator, City of Dover, Delaware. "We were able to quickly develop an application that met his requirements and to use it as a testing ground for the NASCAR race. Everyone, including all the different agencies involved with managing the event, was impressed. It did what they wanted in terms of improved data management, decision making, and better access to information. It allowed a new level of data sharing, which is key."
The City of Dover has a unique public safety issue. Twice a year, the city hosts two major NASCAR racing events. During these races, the city population swells to more than 200,000, with racing fans residing in large makeshift campgrounds for several days.
According to the city, a major challenge was to be able to locate incidents within the temporary campgrounds where street signs and other identifiers may not be clearly seen or accurately documented. This also presents challenges for documenting and inventorying code enforcement and similar activities.
With the mobile GIS system, public safety officials were able to better keep track of the location and condition of all camp facilities. They could open a drop-down menu for viewing and capturing data such as campground street centerlines, campfires, fire incidents, fireworks, fire lanes, camper parking, licenses, vendor locations, and ticket sales. This helped meet the informational requirements of government officials tasked with enforcing compliance to several local code regulations. In addition, it allowed for quick response to an event. When an incident occurred, the fire marshal could quickly pull up a digital map with the current location accurately pinpointed along with the location of the incident and navigate to it in a fast, efficient manner.
The daily information capture and management also improved tactical capabilities. Information captured in the field was uploaded into the GIS database back at the command center, providing the latest data possible for improved decision making. For instance, if more incidents are occurring in a particular area or campground, commanders could redeploy personnel and resources as needed. Each day, the most current data available was provided to both commanders and workers in the field, ensuring the use of a single common operating picture.
"We’ve been working to support various departments within the city, and this was another opportunity to work with them to expand their GIS capability," says Seth Van Aken, ESRI. "They’re very progressive and forward thinking in how they use GIS technology to better serve their community, and the latest ArcPad mobile GIS application is another example of this. What’s exciting is how the successful use of the application has served as a prototype to moving this to multiple users in the field for a wide array of fire and public safety activities."
The application is now available for all city field duties requiring remote data capture, management, and access. Future development may include building the application out to an ArcGIS Server mobile application. As a user is in the field collecting information, data could be instantly fed back to a server so operations staff in the office could view in near real time data such as where fire inspections are taking place and what information is captured at a location.
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