Clermont County’s 911 system is only as good as the accuracy of information stored in its database. A recently completed project that entailed teams driving every road in Clermont County and inputting every data point from street name to address to yield and stop signs to hydrant and railroad crossing locations will make it easier to dispatch 911 calls correctly.
The county contracted with Digital Data Technologies Inc. (DDTI) of Columbus to do the field verification, said Kelly Perry, GIS Administrator for Clermont County. (GIS means Geographic Information System, the county’s mapping system; very similar to the mapping applications like GoogleMaps or Mapquest.) DDTI’s field verification provided the county with what is called a Location Based Response System (LBRS) dataset.
“These new layers of information provided an important improvement to our county GIS data and brought our data into compliance with the statewide standard,” said Clermont County Commissioner Ed Humphrey, an early advocate for LBRS. In 2012, Humphrey was appointed by Gov. John Kasich to the state’s ESINet Committee (Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network Steering Committee), which is responsible for making recommendations to the legislature and governor to create and fund a network across Ohio to convert phone connections for 911 centers from traditional phone lines to an Internet Protocol Network.
More than 80% of 911 calls now are from mobile phones that are Internet Protocol based, said Humphrey. If the state funds the transition, it will include guidelines and standards for operations of 911 centers. One of the state’s current standards is that LBRS be used in county mapping systems.
John Kiskaden, Director of the Department of Public Safety Services, said, “The new data will make mapping more accurate for 911 calls. We’ll be able to better pinpoint where the cell phone call is coming from.”
In November of 2013, two teams from DDTI started driving every road in the county, said Perry. Each car had a driver and a passenger with a controller who logged detailed data points along each stretch of road. This process took 3-and-a-half months, and it took another 3 months to process the data.
The teams logged 80,815 addresses, 4,146 bridges and culverts, 8,836 hydrants, 21,666 intersection points – and that is just a sample of the data collected, said Perry. From a 911 perspective, just as important were the anomalies – 233 ‘bad sign points,’ meaning there were no signs or words were misspelled. More than 5,000 homes did not have a posted house number, although secondary sources were used to identify numbers for all but 632 homes. In some instances, addresses did not flow sequentially, and in others, odd and even numbers were on the same side of the road. “Since we know these anomalies exist, we can better direct emergency crews during 911 calls,” said Perry.
Most counties in Ohio have adopted the Location Based Response System, which means that data points are standardized. Information is more consistent at both the state and local level, noted Humphrey.
DDTI has done field verification for more than 60 other Ohio counties. Mitch Pinkston, project manager at DDTI, said that Clermont County’s GIS data was the cleanest he has encountered. Kelly credits Christine Bussell, a GIS analyst, with ensuring GIS is as up to date as possible. As new commercial, industrial and residential building takes place in Clermont County, Bussell updates that information to keep the information current, whether it is used by the county auditor, the county Community and Economic Development Department, or 911.
The field verification project cost $466,388; of that, Clermont County paid $16,888. “Clermont County residents pay a lot in taxes to the State of Ohio, and it’s good to have some of that come back to the county,” said Humphrey.
David Uible, President of the Board of County Commissioners, said that the labor-intensive project was necessary to ensure that address information was accurate. “Our residents expect that when they make a 911 call, the response will be timely and emergency crews will be sent to the correct address. This new data will help make sure that happens.”