In Catawba County, North Carolina, The Geospatial Information Services Division receives the G. Herbert Stout Award

ARTICLE | May 10, 2017

NEWTON, NC – Catawba County’s Geospatial Information Services (GIS) division, part of the County’s Information Technology department, recently received the G. Herbert Stout Award at this year’s annual North Carolina GIS Conference. The award was conferred for the development of an emergency response vehicle dispatch simulation in collaboration with Catawba County Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Catawba County EMS strives to achieve an average response time of under eight minutes in order to maximize success rates. To accomplish this, finite EMS resources must be allocated as efficiently as possible. Determining future needs can be especially difficult when multiple variables – including vehicle locations, vehicle availability, traffic conditions, and call volume – can alter response scenarios at any given time. Catawba County EMS needed a way to effectively predict resource needs on an annual basis.

To solve this problem, the County’s GIS division created a custom simulation application for EMS based on actual Catawba County EMS response data. The simulation enables EMS staff to proactively analyze different scenarios in response to changes in call volume and resource availability, which helps determine where response gaps could occur. This analysis is then used when preparing resource requests during the County’s annual budget process.

GIS used in-house technology to develop the program, saving upwards of $250,000 by avoiding the need to purchase retail simulation software. The development process took approximately one year.

The G. Herbert Stout Award was created to recognize visionary use of geographic information systems (GIS) by local governments in North Carolina. The award, which is only given to one county government and one city or town government each year, has been presented at the North Carolina GIS annual conference since 1993. To earn the award, a local government entity must demonstrate the development of a GIS application that illustrates one of more of the following: improved efficiency, cost reduction, increased productivity, innovation, or problem solving and must also show the benefits of GIS. 

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