GIS Assists with Fire Department Dispatch Transition


In September of 2013 the Des Plaines City Council approved allowing the Fire Department to switch dispatch services from the Des Plaines Emergency Communication Center (DPECC) to Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center.  RED Center is a consortium of 14 area fire departments, located in Northbrook, which provides dispatch services. 

Changing dispatch providers is large undertaking which involves many moving parts.  Every detail is of the utmost importance because residents’ lives depend on the response time of emergency services.  One of the biggest components of the transition was providing RED with the address data for the entire city.

In order for the address data to be input into RED’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) system the Fire Department needed to determine the street address ranges of every road segment.  Road segments were determined by splitting roads at intersections.  Intersections include anything that crosses the road such as another road, railroad, trail or river.  The Des Plaines Fire Department utilized GIS and GIS data in order to construct the address information needed by RED.  Using tools within ArcGIS the street address range and intersection data were combined in order to create address ranges on the left and right side for each road segment.  Fire response grid data was also applied to the newly created address ranges in order to determine which response grid they fall within.  By utilizing GIS and its available tools the Fire Department was able rely on a mostly automated process to create the necessary data rather than an entirely manual review which would have taken a lot more time and would have been subject to a greater risk of human error.