Sometimes it happens that municipalities carry out research into neighbourhoods in their city that are sometimes too confusing for emergency services in terms of addressing. The reason for such a research is that the emergency services could not find the incident location fast enough. CityGIS often plays an active role in this, both in the investigation of the history of a particular incident and in the possible improvements which sometimes can only be realized by the municipality. An example where our colleagues from Cartography could assist was in the municipality of Harderwijk (link). CityGIS also contributed to the RAV IJsselland project ‘Speuren naar deuren’.
Emergency services must always be navigated to the incident in the correct way. A correct map is one of the most important aspects to arriving at the incident in the fastest way. The map is therefore included as part of the CityGIS products by means of its own Cartography department, which keeps its own road map of the Netherlands extremely up-to-date in close cooperation with the control rooms.
Having its own Cartography department guarantees CityGIS’s enormous know-how in the Cartographic field in a unique combination with the developers of all CityGIS software.
The CityGIS POS map is a detailed vector map that is owned by CityGIS and developed and maintained by its Cartographic department. In addition to cadastral and route information, the map also contains information about the location of various poles, buildings, hectometry and land use. In addition, the map is POS specific. This means, among other things, that roads that are only accessible to emergency services and private areas are also included in the road network. POS stands for Public Order and Safety.
CityGIS mainly uses vectors, a coordinate-based data structure, where each object is represented by sequential xy coordinates. One of the most important advantages of a vector map is the maintenance process and the associated update frequency. Acting quickly with regard to keeping the CityGIS POS map up-to-date is essential. Moreover, vectors can be ‘calculated’.
The Cartography department assists in calibrating the various route engines in the CityGIS products. This also takes place regularly in consultation with customers (with ‘more on small roads or less’ the most common calibration of road type speeds).
In order to deliver the best possible map every time, CityGIS Cartography uses multiple sources. These are compared with each other to ensure accuracy, and manual work is supported by smart algorithms. An important source for the CityGIS POS map is the customer itself. CityGIS customers are often most familiar with the local area. In return, the customer receives not only a quick update, but also the guarantee that the update actually takes place.
In addition, the Cartography department plays a role in specifying the route planners. These differ in age and in application. In addition to routing in the control room, CityGIS has various navigation systems. The first ‘CityNAV’ on the market has grown into ‘discipline-specific’ navigation. This has a specific calibration per road type with specific map adjustments, for example because a tunnel is too low for firefighters but not for police or ambulance. In consultation with the customer, calculation speeds of specific roads are also sometimes adjusted per discipline to enforce preferred routes, for example near a station. The latest navigation on Linux (currently Police and a number of fire brigades) goes a step further, to “vehicle-specific” navigation. The manager can take the navigation into account with the height, weight or length of a vehicle.
With the principle that all emergency services in both the control room and the vehicles preferably have the same map, CityGIS has of course made it possible to have access to many other map layers of almost any supplier, provided the maps are geographically correct. This is not only the case in the control room. In the navigation products it is also possible to implement different map layers, including, for example, map layers of aerial photographs. In the latter case, routing is done ‘under water’ with the POS-specific map of CityGIS so that it appears that the route is calculated and displayed on the aerial photo layer. Different map layers are also shown in combination.
CityGIS can have routings calculated on vector maps from third-party suppliers. The POS-specific map was produced for the Netherlands. In other countries (Belgium in particular), routes are calculated on the maps of TomTom, formerly known as Tele Atlas.
A very important and newly available map layer is the BRAB. The Cartography department has been in the process of matching the CityGIS POS roadmap with the BRAB since the launch of the BRAB (Basic Registration for Addresses and Buildings), or checking the situations that CityGIS generates with different algorithms and that results in lists of probable situations that need to be checked manually for possible improvement.
Of major importance in the emergency control room is the flawless positioning of incidents. The BAB (Basic Administration Buildings), a new government database with a coordinate of all buildings or addresses in the Netherlands, is crucial. Governments are required by law to use this database. However, positions of buildings are not yet addresses. The position of a building can lie in the back of the plot, far from the street, while behind the plot there is another street, closer but with a ditch in between. One cannot and must not just send an ambulance to the nearest street by a BAB position. The ambulance cannot cross the ditch. To avoid such errors, CityGIS has ‘matched’ all 9 million BAB positions for its customers with the routable road network.
To illustrate this huge project – which has taken place without fanfare – the map on the left shows the lines that have been drawn per building / address to the right street vector. Our algorithms indicated which of these lines would probably have to be evaluated by a cartographer, and adjusted if necessary. Error-free maps and error-free software do not exist, but we’re getting close to it. After several years this work has been completed and is used in all CityGIS routings. A result set is also made available four times a year (in which the last BAG+ update has been processed) for the Dutch emergency control rooms so that the 9 million improved positions of destinations can be entered into the JCRS back office system.