TAC Works With County on Two Separate Projects
PLATTSBURGH, NY __ The Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at Plattsburgh State University
of New York has partnered with the Clinton County Office of Emergency Services to
design a new data resource for emergency management.
The project is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a $10,000 matching grant from Clinton County. The system will include a database that can be visualized and communicated using a Geographic Information System (GIS).
The project, GIS Response, will allow the Clinton County Emergency Operations Center to utilize the powerful technology of GIS to better prepare for prevention, response and recovery from a disaster.
Bryan McBride, TAC's GIS specialist and a 2003 graduate of Plattsburgh State, is working with Clinton County Emergency Services Director Jim King and Assistant Director Kelly Donoghue to access and compile the data.
"We will be the first county in the state with a comprehensive GIS emergency services project done on such a large scale," said McBride, who graduated with an undergraduate degree in environmental science. "Using GIS for emergency services is good for Clinton County. This project can become a model for other counties, particularly rural ones, in New York."
GIS technology is a valuable tool used to store, analyze and visualize geographical data. Through a software program, GIS can link reference points on a map with information about them. For instance, to obtain information about a specific fire station, the user can bring up its point on the screen and see where it is in context to a multitude of other things such as bridges, roads and other services. Information about what type of fire equipment the station has, the firefighters' expertise and how to get in contact with the station can be included.
"The system is fairly user-friendly," said McBride. "For emergency management, it is a streamlined, efficient way to gather and share information quickly. It can be used on-site during an incident to locate regional resources, but allows us to expand beyond that -- to predict and plan for future events."
Howard Lowe, director of economic development at Plattsburgh State as well as director of TAC, said that there are many values to this project.
"During the Ice Storm, Jim King needed to locate a dozen snowshoes and ended up finding them through Plattsburgh State. Jim now knows where he can find them, but this sort of information is in his head or in filing cabinets. This project puts all this information into a database so people can have immediate access to it and can respond using common, easily communicated information."
Lowe added that this project fits well with TAC's mission of aiding economic development.
"We feel that GIS is an essential tool and using it for emergency management is important
because the better the county is able to respond to emergencies, the better off the
business community will be. Everyone benefits economically from this," said Lowe,
who hopes to expand this project to the other 15 counties that TAC serves.
TAC also received a $10,000 grant to use GIS to help the Clinton County Department of Social Services (DSS) by providing it with transportation data on everything from bus routes and stations to county-wide employers and daycare centers.
"This will be a valuable resource for social services' clients," said McBride. "They will be able to, for example, find the fastest and easiest way to a new job via public transportation. Using GIS technology, DSS can help its clients locate the closest bus stop and route to take them where they need to go."
The grant came by way of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). This project is actually the second part of the grant. The first part, which has already been completed, entailed collecting information on Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties public transportation resources and publishing it in a single brochure.
"This GIS database will be an extremely time-saving tool for social services," said McBride. "And later, GIS can be used for demographic comparisons, which will be a good planning tool."
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