Local News

Durham emergency responders use 3-D image technology

Posted April 9, 2010 6:37 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2010 7:20 a.m. EDT

— Durham emergency responders are now using an advanced tool that creates a 3-D aerial image of a person’s exact location when they call 911.

Pictometry allows communication officers to see a detailed map of a caller's location and visually inspect the area.

In addition, the Durham Emergency Communications Center can easily bring up as many as 12 different angles of any property, building, highway or other feature within Durham County. Officers can get measurements of any area, such as distance, height and elevation, directly from the imagery.

The detailed information on callers' location lets communication officers give more accurate information to emergency responders, so they are even better equipped to deal with situations when they arrive on the scene, said James Soukup, director of the Durham Emergency Communications Center.

“Our communication officers can provide firefighters with remote guidance on the location of electrical wires and other obstacles that might impair access or tell police officers which buildings have multiple angles for entry and escape,” he said.

The software was funded through the North Carolina Chapter of the Emergency Number Association, which received a federal appropriation of $214,605 to implement the technology in Durham.

The Durham center added $66,550 in 911 surcharge funds to cover the remaining cost of the installation. There will be a recurring cost of $1,350 for annual maintenance, officials said.

According to Soukup, the new technology provides benefits and tools not previously available to communication officers.

“The system is wireless, which means our communication officers can now visually follow the caller as they travel along a road during an incident. That type of contact is priceless to you if you are on the other end of the line needing emergency help,” Soukup said.