Over the last few decades, there has been widespread interest in initiatives to update the 911 service infrastructure in the United States to improve public emergency communication service in a growing wireless mobile society. While there are many building blocks to ensure an effective and efficient public safety infrastructure, the availability of accurate and reliable mapping data is considered as a core foundational requirement. Having reliable geospatial data, most notably correct address and building information, is vital for emergency responders and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) personnel to react to emergencies as quickly and efficiently as possible. At Ecopia, we specialize in using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to mine high-resolution imagery and create high-definition (HD) maps that can be a game-changer for communities around the US. Ecopia’s maps and solutions, such as Building-Based Geocoding, meet the fundamental requirements of comprehensiveness, accuracy and reliability for Next Generation 911 (NG 911) systems. In this blog post, we’ll learn more about NG 911, the role of maps in ensuring a reliable and sustainable emergency response system, and how AI-led innovation in GIS data creation and maintenance can truly impact lives across the country.
In order to meet the requirements of a rapidly changing world with widespread technological innovation, there is a growing shift towards upgrading public safety systems and processes. At the heart of this is the move towards NG 911 systems based on digital or Internet Protocol (IP)-based 911 systems versus the old-school analog technologies. While improvements to the 911 infrastructure are extremely important and welcomed by all public society stakeholders, it’s not an easy task by any means. A variety of systems and factors constitute the upgrading and modernization of 911 and PSAP infrastructure. This includes network capabilities, call handling systems, operations, processes, and arguably the most important - a robust geographic information system (GIS) including site/structure address points, road centerlines, and various emergency relevant boundaries. Unfortunately, keeping pace with the rate of technology innovation by performing these equipment, software, and GIS upgrades has been difficult for PSAPs for a myriad of reasons...most notably lack of sufficient funding.
Need of the hour: Accurate, comprehensive, reliable and affordable GIS database
A reliable GIS system ensures that 911 responders and PSAP personnel can identify a dispatchable address more efficiently thereby helping reduce emergency response times and save more lives and property. Since saving lives and property is the primary goal for emergency responders and public safety stakeholders, the success of the planned NG 911 system majorly depends on the existence of a robust and well-maintained GIS database. The alternative to having a reliable GIS database requires operators to try to discern location specifics through caller interviews which is time-consuming, mostly ineffective, and can cost lives. At a basic level, we have cell phones with GPS chips in them and wireless operators (like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) offering varying degrees of longitude, latitude, and altitude information from a caller in need. However, the available information from wireless devices does not answer many key questions such as address data, type of property (residential/commercial), how best to get there, and specific 3D structure attributes amongst others.
For PSAPs and Emergency Communication Centers (ECCs), a reliable GIS database to empower NG 911 systems ideally has the following key characteristics:
- Comprehensive - GIS data that covers the entirety of a region or county down to all urban and rural areas with high-degree of completeness and accuracy
- Accurate - Address data (both primary and secondary), building footprints and other attributes need to be accurate so that emergency response can be efficiently routed to a dispatchable location
- Up-to-date - Communities, buildings and properties are ever-evolving. It is imperative that a GIS database for public safety infrastructure is maintained and kept up to date to reflect all changes in the physical environment
- Affordable - Funding has been a critical roadblock for many counties and communities around the US when it comes to 911 upgrades. For a GIS database to truly make an impact in the NG 911 environment, every community in the country needs to be able to afford the foundational data needed to save lives and improve the quality of life for its residents
The Solution: AI-Powered Off-the-Shelf GIS Database
Ecopia’s HD maps form a digital representation of reality and are embedded into critical decision-making applications, offering unique insight at scale. Since 2013, our maps have served as an accurate foundational base for hundreds of commercial and government applications across 100 countries around the world. With our experience, and continuously improving artificial intelligence systems, we can assist the American public safety community and 911 upgrade efforts with reliable, high-precision GIS data and solutions.
Ecopia’s Building-Based Geocoding Solution offers the first and only complete building footprint collection in the USA paired with best-in-class address data. Leveraging our network of high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery providers, and our proprietary AI-based systems, we’ve created an off-the-shelf Building-Based Geocoding solution that will enhance the internal GIS database for any PSAP, or ECC in an affordable and efficient manner, regardless of how well they’ve maintained it in the past.
Ecopia’s Building-Based Geocoding solution meets the key requirements that are essential to serve as a reliable GIS database for NG 911 systems including:
- Comprehensive - Ecopia’s Building-Based Geocoding solutions includes over 173 million Building Footprints and over 240 million addresses (primary+secondary) across the US
- Accurate: Ecopia’s dedicated geocoding engine uses a unique machine-learning based address parsing system to match each address point to the correct building at-scale
- Up-to-date: Ecopia offers best-in-class annual updating of Building Footprints and associated addresses to ensure that our solution remains reliable for mission-critical applications
Most importantly, Ecopia’s unique AI-driven approach to Building-Based Geocoding solution ensures that the solution is available affordably to support as many communities as possible across the US. This is a game-changer for underfunded communities with limited human and capital resources to build, integrate or maintain GIS databases on their own.