Tactical mapping aids

Manufacturers of floor planning software

     The ability to map key buildings in their jurisdictions is increasingly important to law enforcement agencies. Many agencies rely on hard copies of building blueprints, but others are discovering the utility in using tactical mapping software to do the job. Here is a sampling of some of the floor mapping software available, and an overview of the capabilities of each one.

The CAD Zone

     The Crime Zone, offered by The CAD Zone of Beaverton, Oregon, was developed to simplify diagramming for police officers. While it was initially used by investigators to draw crime scenes after an event occurred, it is also ideal for creating floor plans and site plans for tactical planning purposes. It contains all the drawing and editing features needed to create 2D floor plan diagrams and detailed 3D site diagrams. There are thousands of pre-drawn symbols of doors, windows, stairs, elevators, furniture, trees and so on, which can be used to save hours of drawing time. Other special features let users draw a building outline, streets and intersections, even stairs and ramps in 3D, with just a few mouse-clicks.

     Users often do not have to draw plans from scratch because the plans they need are available from other sources, which The Crime Zone can import. For instance, a city or county planning department may have plans created by an architect or engineer in an electronic file format such as AutoCAD's .dwg format or the standard CAD .dxf format. Both of these types of files can be imported into The Crime Zone, where users can delete what is not important and add details that are.

     The local fire department is often another excellent source of drawings and valuable building information, commonly referred to as pre-incident plans. These plans typically contain information that is critical not just for fighting fires, but for responding to any emergency, such as details of building and roof construction, position of doors, utility and alarm shut-offs, location of stairs and elevators, placement of hazardous materials stored on-site, and so on. First Look Pro, a database program published by The CAD Zone, is used to organize such pre-plan information and put it together with diagrams, photographs, .pdf files and other documents.

     First Look Pro has separate modes for fire and police users, so this critical information can be easily shared between the two departments. It can be used ahead of time in the station for planning and training purposes, and on mobile computers to give officers at the scene access to the same data. "First Look Pro is an ideal tool for organizing and accessing information that is critical for tactical planning," comments Janice White, president of The CAD Zone. "Much of the building data that is routinely collected by fire departments as part of their pre-planning efforts is also extremely important to police departments. First Look Pro makes it easy for police officers to have access to that information and add to it to meet their own needs."


     FloorView, a company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offers software designed to be both police- and fire department-friendly. The company spent many hours with first responders to determine the kind of information these officials really needed, says FloorView president Richard Neiman.

     This Web-based system, which is Windows and Windows Mobile based, captures as much detail as desired for both the interior and exterior of any facility. Additionally, end-users can access mapping information about the areas surrounding the buildings, such as data on streets or water lines. Aerial photography is also included.

     "When you have an incident at a critical facility, chances are many of the responders have never been there," says Neiman. "So we have the maps to get them there, and once they arrive, tell them how to get into the building and what's inside."

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