Washington state develops mapping system

Law enforcement officials in Washington state have begun developing a new Internet-based system that will provide first responders with critical information about public infrastructures. It will provide access to tactical response plans, satellite imagery, photos, floor plans and hazardous chemical locations, for example.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) recently awarded Seattle-based Prepared Response Inc. (PRI), which develops crisis management planning and response systems, a contract to help develop the statewide Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System. PRI is expected to begin work later this month.

State officials have also received $1.5 million in federal funds to help pay for the system’s development.

Under an earlier $3.3 million contract, PRI digitally mapped more than 400 high schools, an effort the company completed in July. It is now mapping the state’s 1,275 middle and elementary schools.

“Whether it’s a terrorist incident, a [hazardous material] spill, an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, first responders in Washington state now will be better prepared to quickly respond and mitigate an emergency,” said Don Pierce, WASPC’s executive director, in a press release.

In 2003, Washington state legislators passed a law to create a statewide building mapping information system for first responders and delegated WASPC to oversee development and operations. According to a request for proposals issued this summer, the association used some federal funds to contract with MGT of America, a management consulting firm, to help develop functional requirements for the new system.

WASPC also formed a committee composed of representatives from various agencies –- including the state emergency management office, state patrol, Washington Association of County Officials, Association of Washington Cities, Washington Information Services Board and Washington State Association of Fire Chiefs –- to identify types and categories of information first responders need and the system’s minimum mandatory requirement.

“The state of Washington is leading the nation in implementation of crisis management technology to assist police, fire and other first responders during emergency situations,” said Jim Finnell, PRI’s president and chief executive officer, in a press release. “Through our previous work with WASPC, PRI already has more than 80,000 images, 1,200 sites and 6,500 individual buildings available to be entered into the system.”

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