Places2protect: New data resource helps address emergency situations

By Nora Parker

Places2protect Nora Parker (NP): Can you briefly tell our readers what Places2protect is? And Places2notify?

Eddie Pickle (EP): Places2protect™ is a new GIS data resource for state, regional and local governments and agencies, providing extensive, up-to-date and accurate data on "institutions" including critical facilities and captive populations throughout the U.S.and its territories.This set of institutions data is comprised of medical, public safety and other institutions that offer services in an emergency or disaster, as well as the locations of places that house difficult-to-evacuate populations.

Places2notify™ is a companion dataset that includes contact information on administrators and emergency contacts at institutions, including contact names, job functions and titles, and phone numbers.

(NP):What was the impetus behind creating this product? How did you get the idea?

(EP): The origin of Places2protect is an interesting story.IONIC is a software company. We produce standards-based, interoperable Web mapping and geospatial processing products.That business exposes us to clients who require interoperable access to authoritative, up-to-date databases.

In early 2003, IONIC was implementing our OpenGIS® Web Feature Service for the Critical Infrastructure Protection Initiative (CIPI).I found that the feature data being considered for demonstrations and applications was of pretty low quality.We were looking at sources of data - various government directories, White Pages and Yellow Pages listings, etc.- that were out-of-date or lacking adequate feature detail.Having worked in the commercial data world for many years, I knew that there were databases out there with more detail and with ongoing updates.So, I went to the Direct Marketing Association conference in San Francisco in the fall of 2003 to look for providers of this kind of data.After meeting with numerous data companies I realized that one - MCH - stood out in terms of comprehensive, accurate and updated data on hospitals, schools, and other key facilities.

(NP): What does IONIC provide, and what does MCH provide?

(EP): MCH compiles all of the feature detail data on institutional facilities, and updates it with ongoing updates.IONIC converts the databases to GIS formats and can also make them available via OpenGIS web services.IONIC also acts as the sales, marketing and delivery arm of the partnership.

The data MCH is producing includes:

Emergency Health Care Facilities

  • Hospitals
  • Red Cross Chapters
  • Urgent Care Centers
  • Ambulance Services
Other Health Care Facilities
  • Dental Practices
  • Medical Practices
  • Renal Dialysis Centers
  • City, County and State Health Departments
  • Veterinary Medicine Offices
Senior Care
Nursing and Retirement Homes
Senior Centers

Public Safety Facilities

  • Police Departments
  • State and Highway Patrol Offices
  • Fire Departments
Jails and Correctional Facilities

Community Facilities

  • Churches
  • Community Centers
  • Domestic Violence Shelters
  • Libraries
  • Runaway and Homeless Shelters
Places Where There Are Children
  • Schools
  • Child Care
  • Handicapped Children/Residential Treatment Centers
  • Summer Camps
Colleges and Universities

(NP): Aren't these data available to the states in the Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) database?

(EP): Yes, but only when there is an emergency. In order to have the data for preparedness and planning, state or local governments would have to license them separately.

(NP): What are you hoping to add in the future that isn't in the data now?

(EP): One of the main things we'd like to add is locally collected data from state partners.We have highly accurate mailing and physical addresses on our data, and we have latitude/longitude coded them to that physical address. However, some states have their own data on lat/longs or even polygons for these facilities, and we'd be excited to partner with them to integrate that detail and maintain it through update cycles for their use.

Ideally, we'd like to make the data available to users via a transactional Web Feature Service (WFS-T).That way, any updates or changes could be automatically accessed by users anywhere, and it would enable better real-time access to the information.

Published Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Written by Nora Parker

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