Partnering for Success
Collaborations among local, state and federal government prove invaluable
The Mountain Empire Regional GIS (MERG) project demonstrates the benefits of collaboration among local and state government by leveraging innovative tools in technology to improve data sharing and services. The project began when the counties of Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth and Washington, along with the City of Bristol, identified a need to improve emergency response to 9-1-1 calls. The focus of the project was to design a system to share current GIS data across jurisdictional boundaries, thus enhancing emergency response, and to provide critical backup capabilities. The project received grant funds from the Virginia Wireless E-911 Services Board through the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Grant Program.
The project creates a regional data repository that includes data, web mapping, and map services, that streamlines the process for data sharing among localities and the state through the development of a regional GIS data replication system in near real-time. The MERG project will also allow other jurisdictions to join the partnership in the future, creating further benefits for everyone involved.
Their most current GIS data is also shared with the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN) within the Virginia Information Technologies Agency to update the statewide Virginia Base Mapping Program (VBMP) data for the region. The regional partners have worked very effectively with VGIN staff to ensure successful updates for road centerline (RCL) and address data. This alliance between local and state disciplines continues to promote additional benefits for the future. The partnership is also leveraging resources to collaborate with the state of Tennessee GIS Coordinator's office to incorporate their data to improve response across state boundaries as well.
This initiative will also directly benefit the broadband mapping grant awarded to Virginia by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The regional GIS data submitted to VGIN along with provider broadband service data will help accurately identify the availability of broadband across the region. Since a primary goal of the program is to increase broadband access in rural areas, the MERG project, through their partnership with VGIN, will enhance the accurate representation of areas in the region lacking service.
The MERG project is a shining example of how partnerships between localities, state agencies, and federal initiatives can greatly enhance services and opportunities for everyone.
The VBMP program is scheduled to fly the western half of Virginia in 2011. The deadline for including additional areas or upgrading resolution is January 14th.
If you are interested in an additional area or a resolution upgrade, please contact VGIN soon. We should have time in the first two weeks of January to accommodate your needs.
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