Effort Led by the Illinois State Police
Few of us ever leave home without our cell phone these days. But calling 911 from a cell phone may not always provide an accurate location for first responders. That’s where the more precise location data and detailed mapping made possible by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can help. GIS can provide first responders with more accurate location information, helping them arrive on the scene faster.
Locally, Tri-Com Central Dispatch, the emergency dispatch for St. Charles, Batavia, Geneva, and Elburn, uses local GIS data. And St. Charles police and fire have access to the City’s GIS data and maps.
But statewide, an effort led by the Illinois State Police called Next Generation 911 or NG911, looks to standardize municipal and county GIS data across the state. NG911 would connect 911 call centers throughout Illinois to provide accurate location information for responding emergency personnel, especially when an incident requires mutual aid assistance from several communities.
City of St. Charles GIS Analyst Eric Creighton has played an integral role in the state’s NG911 project. When the project was launched in 2018, Creighton was President of the Illinois GIS Association and Chair of the NG911 Advisory Committee. The Committee set out to ensure consistency and compatibility among the various municipal and county GIS systems by establishing data standards, procedures, and policies.
“Across the state we had varying levels of GIS capabilities,” said Creighton. “With the Committee’s work, the state provided training and procedures to ensure all entities involved had the knowledge required. Additionally, we worked with ESRI, Inc., the leader in GIS software, to provide a step-by-step solution to maintain and share the data with the state, as well as an ArcGIS Hub, that is the central component for project communication. Illinois is the first state in the country to utilize this cutting-edge technology for NG911.”
With the data collection, standardization, and aggregation nearly complete, the next phase is for the state to procure the hardware and associated equipment to move from the traditional emergency dispatch framework to one that is GIS-based. This potentially will provide a unified 911 system statewide, with possible future enhancements, such as text and photo capabilities.
Later this year the state will begin testing the system capabilities, with hopes to go live with NG911 in 2022.
To see some of the many ways the City uses GIS, check out the Map Gallery on the City website.