Protecting citizens, property, and the environment are among the most important responsibilities of government agencies. Public safety agencies are the front line of defense for keeping the public and communities safe.
Both natural and man-made disasters cost billions of dollars annually. Businesses suffer from lost assets and productivity. Local, state, and national governments must clean up and repair damaged infrastructures. Nongovernmental organizations must put aside their primary missions to help rebuild communities.
The threat from disasters is growing worldwide. Forty of the 50 fastest growing cities in the world are located in earthquake zones. Some 10 million people in developing countries live under constant threat of floods. One billion people are highly vulnerable to disasters ranging from earthquakes to mud slides. Recovery from these tragic events can take years.
Reducing the loss of life and property from natural and human caused emergencies requires planning and preparedness that is closely tied to geographic information. Good planning begins by understanding where emergency events could occur, where community vulnerabilities exist, and where citizen safety is at risk. Once these locations are identified, government agencies can formulate prevention and mitigation requirements, response needs, and emergency preparedness requirements.
Fire departments are responsible for protecting lives and property, but they have limited resources. Consequently, it is critical that resources are deployed effectively and efficiently. Optimal deployment is influenced by factors such as fire demand, effective fire fighting force size, type of occupancy, historical occurrence of fires, and response time.
Traditional planning methods require numerous maps, reports, tables, and historical records that are often maintained in different locations and formats. Assembling these data sources and translating them into a useful format requires time and effort.
When complete, the resulting deployment plans are often implemented and then shelved. With GIS, fire plans can be continuously monitored, updated, and adjusted. GIS transforms fire planning from a static document to an ongoing dynamic process.
Keeping firefighters safe is a critical objective for all fire departments. GIS provides the tools to work with tactical, location-based information such as floor plans, utility control points, prefire plans, hazardous material contents and locations, surrounding exposures, aerial imagery, and hydrant locations. Access to this information while en route or on scene allows firefighters to deploy more quickly, effectively, and, most important, safely.