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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government


Bob White - You Never Know

By Janey Barton

You never know what will happen in this life. You could be a restaurant manager one day, be in a serious automobile accident and out of work for a year, and then have to undergo retraining due to serious injuries. Ask Bob White. He knows, since this is exactly what happened to him. Fortunately, his retraining was in drafting, and fairly soon he got a job as a GIS technician. Nine projects later, after working in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Bob is back here in Maine, where he was born and grew up. Since 1997, he has worked as the E9-1-1 project manager for the State of Maine’s Office of Geographic Information Systems.

Bob White

In March, Bob White attended the Technical Development Conference of NENA (National Emergency Number Association NENA is composed of 7,000 worldwide emergency management services, including fire, law, vendors, and government agencies. The developers at the conference were discussing ACN (automotive crash notification devices) technology, which could potentially save thousands of lives each year. They represented many parties interested in making this work, including the medical community, automotive industry, and technical people, who are developing the hardware and the software, including mapping. (For more information, see Bob’s article "Enhancing Your Chance of Survival" . ) The developers decided that the 9-1-1 community should be involved in ACN, that NENA should be a leader, and that all 9-1-1 centers should be fitted with this technology. Bob is deeply involved, having been chosen as a co-chair of the GIS study group charged with developing a standard data model for GIS in Public Safety.

In June, Bob attended the NENA conference and presented information to the group about mapping maintenance and GIS standards. He coordinated with Lucent Technologies and Plant Equipment, Inc., to drive home the idea to the group that GIS data needs the same respect as E9-1-1 systems. GIS data must also meet these conditions: be spatially accurate, complete and up to date, current and maintained. Bob said, "An unmaintained three-year-old dataset is like a three-year-old phone book. It may--or may not--suffice." The change needed to make ACN viable is "adding a mapping component so that PSAPs can plot E9-1-1 wireless communications."

This will help make our state a safer place to live and drive. Bob also said that this is a good opportunity for Maine’s state motto--Dirigo (I lead)--to speak for our aim in this. According to Bob, the groundwork has been done with 9-1-1. There are many side benefits that come along with making ACN viable; these include benefits to statewide GIS, private industry, private sector engineering, DHS analysis for medical purposes (e.g. concentrations of illness, for example), DEP (e.g. contamination sites), and so forth. This could also include hazardous materials sensors on trucks and railcars carrying such materials. That could mean almost instant notification to neighboring communities and individuals, instructing them on proper procedures. One needed step is the formation of a coordinating organization, consisting of both public and private sector, to manage the whole thing so that "all pieces fit together and work."

Bob is a resident of South China with his wife, Kelly, and their two children, Thomas, 5 and Brittany, 3. His avocations include hunting and fishing.


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