Soon, GIS will help 911 better pinpoint emergency calls

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Starting this summer, those who need emergency help while they’re in the most uninhabited areas of Adams County should be able to get that help faster than ever.

That’s because, as early as July, dispatchers will be able to determine the exact latitude and longitude from which a cell phone call originates, allowing emergency personnel to find the caller more quickly.

&uot;And if (the caller is) moving, we’ll be able to tell where they are as they’re traveling,&uot; said Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes.

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This is just one use of a geographic information systems, or GIS, program funded the City of Natchez, Adams County and the U.S. Soil and Water Conservation Service.

In GIS, base maps of the county &045;&045; and, most recently, brand-new aerial maps &045;&045; are loaded into a computer system.

Then other information, from property lines to street addresses to household demographics to the location of fire hydrants &045;&045; and latitude and longitude &045;&045; is entered and can be superimposed on the maps.

City and county departments will then be able to access the information from their computers to put together maps to aid them in presentations, grant applications and planning.

In the case of the 911 latitude-longitude system, the maps will also be available at dispatch centers and in law enforcement officers’ patrol cars, said City Surveyor Tony Moon, who is working on establishing the GIS system.

The Federal Communications Commission is now mandating that counties have such as a system in place by July, Souderes said.

In addition to the 911 program, the GIS team is currently identifying the location of fire hydrants throughout the county and entering them into the system. In the future, the team plans to enter the pressure of each hydrant as well.

&uot;We’ve got 90 to 95 percent of fire hydrants throughout the county located,&uot; Moon said.

&uot;In the future, the fire department, when it’s responding to a fire, can look and say ‘We have a fire plug in this area, but it only has so much pressure,’ so it knows which trucks to send out.&uot;