Agencies interested in any kind of mapping and emergency management response system should ask what they need for the majority of their applications, says Dutch, adding that most of the time what agencies inquire about, instead, is cost. Whatever data is collected and harvested must be kept current. Dutch advises agencies to take a page from the U.S. Secret Service model.
"In the Secret Service, once something has been mapped, there are no changes allowed," he explains. "They're serious about this: no major changes. Move a reception desk from one spot to another and the whole scenario could change. So on the tactical floor plans, this is what you have to take into account; they can't make changes, at least not major ones."
But no matter the system used, perhaps one of the most important benefits derived from mapping is that it gets agencies thinking and talking about the need for preplanning and for working together to develop effective responses to all manner of emergencies. When tensions are high and the situation is critical — and the outcome depends on a coordinated response from disparate entities — these systems can give responders an important and lifesaving edge.