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 Maines
Office of Geographic Information Systems.
In March, Bob White attended the Technical Development Conference of NENA (National
Emergency Number Association www.nena9-1-1.org).
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
Bobs 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
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 Maines 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.