Comprehensive Registry Uses Esri Technology Integrated with Emergency Dispatch Systems to Improve the Safety of Vulnerable Residents during Emergencies
SUDBURY, ON, Esri Canada User Conference – April 24, 2012 – Ensuring the safety of seniors and people with disabilities during emergencies is a common concern of municipalities everywhere. Separate registries exist for people with Alzheimer's disease, autism, blindness, deafness and other vulnerabilities to aid emergency responders during a crisis. For the first time, a comprehensive registry that contains information on people with all types of vulnerabilities has been developed using Esri's geographic information system (GIS) technology. The Sault Ste. Marie Vulnerable Persons Registry (VPR) integrates with the City's utility and emergency dispatch systems to enable proactive emergency management and increased public safety. The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), which developed the registry, today received the Esri Canada Award of Excellence for this outstanding GIS application.
“In addressing the unique needs of people with vulnerabilities, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre is changing the face of emergency planning,” says Alex Miller, president, Esri Canada. “Leveraging their advanced community GIS for this pioneering registry relieves emergency management agencies from maintaining data, and allows them to focus on immediate action and quicker response. This registry gives new meaning to public service accessibility and efficiency.”
The registry stemmed from the death of Lewis Wheelan, a 21-year old disabled man from Sault Ste. Marie who lived independently and relied on air conditioning to regulate his body temperature. During the massive blackout of 2003, his home was left without power for nearly a day and he died because no one could get to him in time to help ensure his safety. In partnership with Accessibility Sault Ste. Marie and other partners, SSMIC launched the pilot registry for the City of Sault Ste. Marie in October 2011.
“This registry is the culmination of eight years of hard work and is one of the boldest and most innovative projects we've ever done,” says Paul Beach, Manager, Community Geomatics Centre, SSMIC. “We've created numerous GIS applications in the past and knew that we could rely on the system to integrate information on all types of health vulnerabilities. As such, the VPR is 25 times larger in scope than any other registry. It supports emergency planning and response for all types of vulnerabilities and emergency situations, may it be large or small scale. It's a valuable public service project that we couldn't have accomplished without courage, perseverance and GIS.”
SSMIC used Esri's ArcGIS technology to allow for immediate access of critical registrant data for use in all emergencies. Data on VPR registrants is activated only during 911 calls and displayed on the City's emergency dispatch systems that are integrated with the GIS. For home emergencies, first-responder dispatchers will see a flag on their screen if a 911 call received is from a VPR registrant. They will be able to pull key information about that person's vulnerability (e.g., if they are bed-ridden, deaf or have another disability) to effectively provide assistance. During large-scale emergencies, the community's emergency command centre can access the VPR to help fire, police, ambulance, and search and rescue agencies to allocate resources appropriately.
The registry also integrates with the local utility's GIS, enabling the utility to notify residents requiring electricity for life-sustaining equipment when they will be affected by a planned outage. For extended unplanned outages, the utility coordinates with multiple support agencies such as the Canadian Red Cross in order to assist vulnerable citizens.
“Initial feedback from the community has been very encouraging,” says Kimberley LeClair, VPR Coordinator, SSMIC. “We launched the pilot with only 10 registrants, and the number has now grown to more than 50. We're expecting more than 1,000 vulnerable persons in the City to benefit from the system. In addition, it's a unique registry that focuses on emergency preparedness education, while also serving as a central hub for vulnerable residents to learn about services available to help them live independently.”
Being the first registry of its kind in North America and potentially across the globe, several communities in Canada and worldwide are looking to the VPR's one-year pilot as a guide for creating their own registries. SSMIC will create a comprehensive resource package that other communities can use to replicate its all-encompassing emergency planning system.
About the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre
The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre was founded in 1999 and serves as a catalyst for growth in the IT, science and knowledge-based sectors in the Algoma District. Through its Community Geomatics Centre (CGC), it has developed and maintains one of the world's most comprehensive community-based GIS, connecting more than 60 partners and thousands of layers of data from various sectors. The CGC forms private and public sector partnerships and provides GIS, data analysis and integration services for use in government, utilities, health care, social services, education, emergency response and economic development. It has been recognized internationally for its unique community information utility model and advanced work in the health and human services sector. For more information, visit ssmic.com.
About Esri Canada
Founded in 1984, Esri Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography. The company distributes the world's leading GIS software from Esri, Telvent, Cityworks – Azteca Systems, Inc. and other technology partners. Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the top 250 Canadian IT companies and top 25 IT professional services providers in Canada by the Branham Group. Information about Esri Canada can be found at esri.ca.
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