Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS)

CAGIS Firebird

CAGIS Firebird is an Integrated Mobile Decision Support Application for Emergency Services

Information is critical in responding to emergencies

Fire Departments are always trying to determine the most effective way to approach an incident. This is not only based upon the quickest route to the incident, but also includes additional information regarding fire hydrant locations and physical obstacles such as walls and fences. The additional information becomes even more critical in mutual aid incidents, where neighboring fire departments assist in fighting the fire. These neighboring fire departments often do not have up to date information as the critical data is often carried in map books on the trucks. These books are not updated very often as they are time consuming and expensive to produce.

Large map books are hard to use while screaming down the street toward an incident. The navigator must find the location in the map book; review the page to determine the most efficient approach to the incident, all the while assisting the driver in the best route to the location.

Fire Department administrators face the challenge of determining response times with appropriate staffing levels. The staffing levels are always under pressure due to budget constraints.

What if there was a digital tool that allows firefighters to quickly develop the firefighting plan while en-route to the incident, automatically link to the 911 dispatch location, reduce the dependency on paper map books, and at the same time provide valuable information to administrators for making long term planning decisions? There is such a tool, CAGIS Firebird.

CAGIS Firebird provides the required information

CAGIS Firebird is a mobile GIS mapping application that integrates with emergency 911 response dispatch software. Upon an incoming 911 dispatch, Firebird captures the location information and automatically zooms to the incident on the navigational computer located in the fire truck. The simple design and big buttons on the display make it easy to use in a fire truck.

Quick digital display of map and location data gives firefighters the information they need to get to an incident as fast as possible. En route to the location, fire vehicles are able to coordinate based on digital mapping of hydrant location, flow information and service availability. Base map data including property lines, buildings, streets and aerial photography show the lay of the land. This information is particularly significant for neighboring department responders who may not be familiar with an incident location.

Firebird has a dynamic digital map with many layers of information. These include Civil Boundaries, Streets, Property Parcels, Buildings, Addresses, Fire Hydrants, Helicopter Landing Positions and optionally Aerial Photos. Users can zoom in and out to shows various levels of information.

Integration with GPS streamlines operation and provides additional reporting tools

Firebird integrates with various Global Positioning (GPS) units. This allows fire vehicles to be tracked real-time on the map interface. As the truck approaches the incident, additional layers of information are automatically shown for a detailed view of the scene. Personnel also have the ability to turn on/off map layers as needed to provide only the information required at the moment.

The addition of GPS to the application, not only assists in location information, but administrators benefit from the automatic collection of response times. The current dispatch software located on the trucks requires the emergency responder to push a button to log their arrival at the incident. Since the firefighter is more focused on saving lives, often the button does not get pushed. Firebird geo-fences the incident and when the GPS location of the truck enters the ‘fence’ the arrival time is automatically logged. All response times are then aggregated to perform statistical analysis for staffing levels and optimization of vehicle locations.

Firefighters often use pre-plan data that provides information on individual sites within their community. This can be in the form of site photos, site maps and text descriptions. Firebird allows this information to be digitally stored and quickly available. As a result, firefighters know what to expect when arriving at an incident site. This can be most useful at large facilities such as schools, hospitals and industrial buildings where knowledge of the layout and location of hazardous materials is critical. A digital, searchable copy of the Emergency Response Handbook was added by request to assist fire personnel diagnosing these hazardous materials.

The use of CAGIS Firebird has grown exponentially

Firebird began with 3 vehicles within the Forest Park Fire Department. Within 2 years, the use of the application has grown exponentially and it is now deployed on 95 machines located in the City of Cincinnati, City of Blue Ash, City of Forest Park, City of Madeira, Village of Indian Hill, Village of Mariemont and Colerain Township.

The Geographical Information System (GIS) based Firebird application provides the firefighters the ability to zoom in and zoom out to various levels of information. The benefit is the application can be used not only to fight localized fires, but also show the lay of the land, which is difficult to do with a map book.

CAGIS Firebird allows for turning on/off various layers, allowing firefighters to gain more situational awareness at the click of a button. For example, the aerial photography layer was used in several instances and increased response times. In Forest Park, there was a missing child incident. The emergency personnel were able to turn on the aerial photography and identify houses with swimming pools to target their initial sweep. Likewise, in Colerain Township where a commercial establishment had smoke entering the building through an HVAC system. Firefighters used the aerial photography to quickly determine which side of the building to ladder up to reach the unit.

Firebird has streamlined response time for cross jurisdictional runs (mutual aid). Often incidents are not at a specific house address. The advanced geo-location ability of Firebird to instantly search on intersections and highway mile markers is a huge benefit. Map books do not have this additional type of detail.

CAGIS provides enhancements as new needs are identified

Planned advances in the initial product are assisting in coordinating communication between firefighters and the water companies. Firefighters are dependent not only on the location of hydrants, but more importantly if the hydrant is in service. Daily updates of fire hydrants out of service can be broadcast to Firebird so this information is in the hands of the firefighters when they need it most.

For more information, contact James Stanforth (513-352-6439) or David Raffenberg (513-352-6427).