Upgrade for Cambria County first responders

Cambria County, Pa. - The Cambria County Commissioners awarded a contract to update a mapping system for first responders.

"If we're looking at a map from years ago and that house wasn't constructed at that time, they're not going to be displayed on that map. So, if they're calling from that location, we can't see that house or use it as a reference point when directing emergency services to the scene," said Robbin Melnyk, Cambria County 911 Director.

Over the next three to four weeks, the company, Fugro Geospatial, will fly over Cambria County and take images of roads and neighborhoods in each town. The images will be used to create high resolution and 3D maps. The maps were last updated in 2009.

"To get that updated into the most current information, is going to be critical to getting our emergency responders where they need to get to," Melnyk said. 

The new mapping software will not only help during emergency calls, it will help first responders plan better for emergency situations.

"They're planning, if there's a fire there, where they're going to get their water resources from. So being able to view on this map, they can see well we've got a pond down here, we've got a fire hydrant at this location," said Melnyk.

The contract cost $261,628. It was funded by 911 phone fees.

Steve Kocsis, the director of Geographic Information Systems in Cambria County, said he was impressed by the technology Fugro offered.

"The additional enhancements, being able to look at it from different angles and being able to look at it from what's familiar: a street-level view versus a flat, top-down view," Kocsis said.

Once all the images are taken, it will take another six months to create the new software, before first responders put it to use.

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