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G-tech used to improve the safety of vulnerable residents

Ontario, Canada: The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC) developed a registry, which includes information about people with all types of vulnerabilities, using Esri’s GIS technology. With this registry, the SSMIC aims to ensure safety of seniors and people with disabilities during emergencies. Moreover, the SSMIC has received the Esri Canada Award of Excellence for this outstanding GIS application.

“In addressing the unique needs of people with vulnerabilities, the SSMIC is changing the face of emergency planning,” said 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 SSMIC used Esri’s ArcGIS software to allow, for immediate access of critical registrant data, for use in all emergencies. Data on Vulnerable Persons Registry (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 integrated 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,” observed 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.

Source: Esri Canada