‘Mapping’ Success Through Digital Data

With the town’s new GIS system in place, integrated possibilities could soon lead to an all-access virtual town hall for residents and new emergency response tools.

There is a new way to get all the information you need about properties in town, assessor cards, neighborhood maps and more – and you won’t even have to set foot in town hall in order to get it.

Over the past decade, New England Geosystems representatives have worked alongside town staff to help develop a comprehensive and compatible geographical information system, or GIS; the new software released to town staff and members of the public late last year could soon lead to a variety of new opportunities for both town employees and residents.

“A foundation is now built for police, fire, engineering and a wide range of other town departments. When new programs are integrated, they will not have to reinvent the wheel,” said Brian Dooley, president of New England Geosystems. “It opens up opportunity for collaborative efforts with other entities including utility companies as well.”

The system, which can be accessed through a tab on the Southington town website, was first made available in November, according to Marwin Gonzalez of New England Geosystems, but staff members received their formal introduction to the system Thursday afternoon.

Gonzalez, project manager, and Dooley walked staff through the intricacies of the new system, which includes assessor details, fly-over maps of the entire community, topographical information, historical data regarding town parcels, sewer and utility details and more.

Most functions will be available to the public, but other details, including specific sewer data systems and cameras, will remain available only to town staff for safety reasons.

In addition to the detailed information, Dooley said the system would allow for long-term planning on projects such as road repairs – the engineering department is already in the process of developing this map for implementation as part of the long-range capital improvement plan – and would be available to town staff instantly on mobile devices.

“The system is also tied to utility companies,” Dooley said. “In situations like the town had with (Tropical Storm) Irene and the snowstorm, officials can instantly click on individual locations and map the exact points where utility poles are down.”

Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback and Technology Director Richard E. Lopatosky said the next step would be utilizing all of the compatibility functions to enhance services throughout the community, including providing tools for emergency response and additional town hall services to the public online.

“The ultimate goal is to eventually have a complete virtual ,” Brumback said. “While we welcome anyone who wants to come by town hall in person, our residents and business owners will be able to take care of all their business right from home.”

Currently, the system is already seeing 1,500 to 2,500 users, Gonzalez said.

The town is already moving forward in implementing a complementary program for the that will allow for faster access to information during emergencyies and tools to assist with difficult responses.

Southington Fire Chief Harold Clark said the department is installing “First Look Pro,” an integrated mapping system for emergency response crews that will be installed inside the town’s fire trucks.

The system will provide instantaneous data, including building layouts and neighborhood maps, right to the fire engines and allow for firefighters to plan their response before they even arrive on scene. It will also provide guided directions for quicker response routes and help identify other dangers including nearby buildings and tree lines, he said.

“Right now, staff receives text versions of the information,” Clark said. “There will always be challenges you can’t plan for, but to know where each room is before you enter a burning building is an advantage that can only stand to help our response.”

Lopatosky said the system would be updated frequently to make sure the latest information is available and is excited about the opportunities to come.

“There is a lot we can do with this to enhance everything we do,” he said.

The public can access the Geosystems information by clicking on the link provided.


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