Ada County rewrites the book with GIS
As Ada County seat and the state capital, Boise, Idaho, has grown rapidly for the past several years making it difficult to maintain up-to-date map books for use by county departments.
Before the introduction of a geographic information system (GIS), the Ada County sheriff’s department reprinted its map book every two years, individually drafting and copying updated pages, a process that was expensive and time-consuming.
Because of this, the sheriffs department decided to automate the production process of the 900-page book that aids department dispatchers in helping police officers locate crime scenes and firemen or paramedics locate emergency scenes.
One of the key elements of the book, which contains maps of the county, each section and each township, is an index that allows dispatchers to look up map sections by street name. The different map sections include rights of way, street names, alleyways, address ranges, hydrants and city limits, surrounded by a template frame that shows the map number, directions and surrounding map numbers in a grid. Keeping the map book current is crucial for dispatchers and for the public.
“Because of the phenomenal growth in Boise, the map book should assist all officers in staying current with new streets,” says Les Shadduck, communication project director for the Ada County sheriffs department.
The county selected ARCCAD software from Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), Redlands, Calif., to do the mapping and assist with the updates.
With a specially-purchased computer, the map book generator can use 50 routines and more than 500 coverages to plot a page within 15 minutes and an entire map book within a few weeks. Updates can be made every two weeks, keeping the maps current.
Custom map books can be made to accommodate various county offices. For example, police officials receive a map book without fire hydrants but with city limits, and the fire department uses a map book with both elements. The items, colors, line weights and symbols on pages can be tailored to meet the needs of each office.
“I think for too long GIS has been the main element missing in 911 communications,” says Capt. Gil Wright, administrative director for the Ada County sheriff’s dept. “I am pleased to see progress being made in implementing GIS to complete the emergency call handling process.”