Colorado Springs - Fire Department and Traffic Management Center

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1 Colorado Springs - Fire Department and Traffic Management Center City of Colorado Springs This project is being utilized by the City to improve the delivery of public safety services. It is a combination of GPS/AVL technology, traffic signal control and pre-emption, wireless communication, interactive GIS mapping and single touch access to emergency responder information about buildings and inspections. March 2005 Colorado Springs Fire Chief Manuel Navarro 375 Printers Parkway Colorado Springs CO

2 The, in a partnership with the City of Colorado Springs Traffic Management Center, has developed a highly capable and unique system. Using Federal grant funds for Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality, the City s Traffic Department embarked on a City AVL (Automatic Vehicle Location) system for Transit, Public Works and Fire. In the implementation of AVL for the Fire Department, many other benefits were identified and pursued. The most important of these were Traffic System controlled signal pre-emption for responding fire apparatus and the delivery of valuable information through the on-board computer and touch-screen interface to responding fire personnel. The core equipment involved in the system are GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers on fire apparatus, radios to communicate over a City owned wireless infrastructure, on-board computers to deliver and receive information, central servers to receive and store vehicle location data, pertinent GIS (geographic information system) data, a computer application to determine the best emergency response route to an incident, and an ITS (Intelligent Traffic System) to send commands to traffic signals. The system works in the following manner: 1)Fire vehicles transmit their location over a wireless infrastructure to a central server approximately every 4 seconds. 2) When an emergency call is received by 911, the caller s address is located on a map by a process called geocoding. 3) A computer algorithm finds the optimum route between the caller s location and the fire apparatus assigned to the call and transmits this information to the emergency responder s computer. 4) In the fire apparatus, a map is displayed showing the location of the incident, the location of the fire apparatus, the street network and the route for which traffic signals will be turned green. 5) As the fire apparatus responds through green traffic signals, the location is transmitted back to the server and signals that have been passed return to normal operation. 6) On the in-vehicle computer, the map automatically zooms to show more information such as building footprints and fire hydrants as the fire apparatus gets closer to the incident. 7) If there is building/business information (such as emergency contact, Knox box information, fire system information, or inspection history) from the Fire Prevention database for the incident address, the responder can view this information through a single touch on the touch-screen display. Improvements in the system occur on a daily basis through enhancing the quality of GIS data being used for building addressing and the street network, tuning the recommended routes to match the crew s recommendations, improving the timing of the signal pre-emption algorithm and signal operation, identification of other information sources for delivery to the responding personnel and better maintenance of the information in the Fire Prevention database. While the value of the system has already been proven, the potential for enhanced capabilities and the delivery of more information is practically unlimited.

3 This system is highly innovative and creative in that it utilizes many existing systems: GPS, traffic signals, CAD (computer aided dispatch), GIS, and Fire Prevention databases. By integrating these systems with interfaces, wireless communication and in-vehicle computers, the near real-time delivery of incident information to emergency responders in a visual format is achieved. Rather than develop a total system from scratch, an option that is not financial or technically feasible for many departments, the key is to leverage as many existing systems and data sources as possible. Since the data is available on central servers as well, apparatus location and incident locations can be viewed by incident commanders or managers to communicate a common operational picture and facilitate incident management and move-ups. Another innovative aspect of the system is the introduction of a non-emitter based approach to signal pre-emption. Rather than rely on on-board transmitters and detectors on traffic signals, the system uses vehicle location and control by a central server to pre-empt traffic signals for emergency responders. This approach also allows for the system to pre-empt signals around a corner whereas an emitter system only works on signals in its line-of-sight. The potential for abuse by unauthorized personnel in possession of a personal emitter has also been eliminated. The largest area of community and citizen participation has been in the tuning of the signal pre-emption algorithm. While there was extensive testing of the algorithm to determine the optimum route and signal timing, the real operation of the system has been refined through citizen feedback and emergency responder feedback. Emergency responders have provided valuable information about preferred routes over those suggested by the algorithm. With this feedback, we have been able to modify the algorithm or the data driving the algorithm to match the preferred route. Participation from the citizens has been valuable in correcting problem areas either with the pre-emption algorithm or the signal system itself. While some feedback has helped to identify problems, other feedback has conveyed satisfaction when informed the signal operation was consistent with improving the safety and timeliness of emergency response. The most valuable participative element of the system has been the hand-in-hand development between the City s technical personnel and the Fire Department line personnel. Rather than have a commercial off-the-shelf product, the entire approach of the project has been initial and on-going involvement from CSFD personnel. The look and feel of the application and its default operation has been tailored to improve its use by emergency responders. The current operation and planned enhancements have been shaped by the invaluable participation of CSFD line personnel.

4 The desired improvements in the delivery of services were emergency responder and citizen safety as well as improvement in emergency response time. After one year of operation, we do not have enough data to show a statistical improvement in response times. Personnel working in a new area of town have indicated the assistance of the system is very valuable in locating calls and navigating to the address. Anecdotal feedback from personnel would also support an improvement in responder and citizen safety. The other unexpected improvements we have received from personnel include decreased stress levels and improvement in fuel efficiency. A change in response driving has been effected from hard on the breaks, hard on the gas with near misses to a steady speed response with calm traffic. The ability to see more information around the incident has helped to locate addresses at night and to identify staging points and hydrants for structure fires (hydrants obscured by hedges or shrubs are easily identified on the in-vehicle display). The access to vehicle location and incident information is also stored on a central server to provide a common operational picture and management interface. Through a web application, incident commanders or managers can view the current location of city resources and active emergency calls. This big picture helps to identify the need to reposition resources as well as communicate the scale of a large incident. A history of vehicle position updates can be retrieved to show a trace of the apparatus position over any period of time to recreate the details of a response. Steve Harris Missouri Valley Manuel Navarro

5 Manuel Navarro Fire Chief 375 Printers Parkway Colorado Springs CO City of and Traffic Management Center Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) project City of Colorado Springs This project is being utilized by the City to improve the delivery of public safety services. It is a combination of GPS/AVL technology, traffic signal control and pre-emption, wireless communication, interactive GIS mapping and single touch access to emergency responder information about buildings and inspections. The design and development of the project started in 2003 with substantial implementation in March of With the assistance of a Federal grant for Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality, the City s Traffic Management Center created a wireless infrastructure and AVL system. In a partnership with the Fire Department, a signal pre-emption capability was developed and the on-board computer was extended to provide information to the first responder as well. Improvements have been achieved in emergency responder safety and citizen safety. The nature of response driving is also being improved and has a positive effect on response. With the delivery of more information to fire personnel, better decisions can be made in the field and a more complete view of the incident environment is possible.

6 Manuel Navarro Fire Chief 375 Printers Parkway Colorado Springs CO Missouri Valley Lionel Rivera, Mayor Steve Harris, IS Supervisor John Leavitt, Senior Public Communications Specialist City of Colorado Springs

7 CSFD In-Vehicle Application This screen snapshot contains the initial view showing the responding apparatus and the location of the emergency call. The route identified has to account for one way streets on Bijou, Tejon and Kiowa.

8 CSFD In-Vehicle Application This screen snapshot contains the final view showing the responding apparatus and the location of the emergency call. As the map has zoomed-in, more information shows up on the screen such as building footprints, building numbers and hydrant locations. Also notice the tabs for Utilities Shutoff, Inspections and RP (Responsible Party) information.

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