July 7, 2010 By News Report
The San Ramon Valley, Calif., Fire Protection District has developed an iPhone application available free of charge in the Apple App Store. The FireDepartment.org iPhone application provides a virtual window into the District's 9-1-1 dispatch center, iPhone users now have real-time access to emergency activity occurring in the community. The application also provides the District with a powerful new avenue to communicate with its mobile population during a disaster.
Application users can view active incidents -- including the current response status of dispatched units (enroute, onscene, etc.) and instantly pinpoint incident locations on an interactive map. Users tap the application to quickly retrieve real-time information. A log of recent incidents and a photo gallery of significant events can also be easily accessed.
The application also allows residents and other interested parties to choose to be notified of incidents by category as they are dispatched. Users can even listen in on live emergency radio traffic via the modern version of the traditional fire scanner on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch device. The District also uses the application to communicate with its more than 700 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members and to share information during disasters with all its citizens.
"Using the iPhone and iPad for field-based command and control operations holds great promise for emergency service providers," said Fire Chief Richard Price. "This consumer version of our development effort demonstrates the game-changing nature of these revolutionary handheld devices."
The iPhone application was designed by District personnel after successfully implementing similar capabilities on the District's Webby-nominated website, FireDepartment.org. The District partnered with students at the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) for iPhone engineering and programming services. By working with the District, students received valuable intern experience in addressing real-world business needs.
The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District provides all-risk fire, rescue and emergency medical services to the communities of Alamo, Blackhawk, the Town of Danville, Diablo, the City of San Ramon, the southern area of Morgan Territory and the Tassajara Valley, in Northern California (Contra Costa County). The District's service area encompasses approximately 155 square miles and serves a population of 167,500.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.