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Harrison agencies should give serious thought to mapping

Geographic Informational System mapping is technology that is overdue for Harrison County.

Harrison County Emergency Services Director Fred Smart said GIS mapping will enable his staff to better serve the people, helping to create a safer place to live.

"With GIS and other technology, we can pinpoint the exact location of the incoming call and locate the nearest unit, be it police, a fire department or rescue squad," Smart said. "It will definitely increase our efficiency and response time."

The Harrison County Commission has agreed to provide nearly $37,000 for the initial step -- aerial photographs of the entire county that will later be used to make topographic maps.

These maps will be logged into a computer base that 911 dispatchers will be able to access.

"These maps will also give us the exact location of utilities in the area and we can even have a system in place that will identify which utility companies will need contacted to shut down electric and gas," Smart said. "The system can even tell dispatchers, who can relay the information to those on the scene, which fire hydrants are operational, how far they are from the fire and when they were last serviced."

It can also provide blueprints of buildings, which would be of further assistance to emergency personnel.

Some may view this as far-reaching "Star Wars" technology, but Smart said the systems are being utilized in other areas.

The County Commission is hoping city governments will help to underwrite the costs of the project, which Smart said would cost a little more than $250,000.

We encourage all agencies in Harrison County to give serious thought to this new technology. Working together, our county and city leaders can make our communities safer. And that's priceless.

John G. Miller

Telegram Editorial Board member

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