Contact: Adam Joseph
March 21, 2012
As Senate chairwoman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, state Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) heard testimony today on a bill that would help municipalities improve emergency storm response by requiring utilities to share GIS mapping data.
In the wake of last year’s hurricane and severe winter storms, thousands of residents throughout the state fell victim to prolonged power outages due to storm damage. Senate Bill 426: An Act Concerning Geographic Information Systems Data Sharing, would require electric utilities to share vital GIS data about locations of utility poles and transformers, so that municipal first responders can more quickly and efficiently target priority areas.
“For residents plunged into darkness in the wake of a severe storm, time is of the essence. This bill would speed up the process of getting to help to those people,” Senator Slossberg said. “By requiring utility companies to disclose GIS data, fire departments and first responders gain a more complete picture of the disaster they are dealing with and can devise a more targeted response plan.”
Fire marshals and city officials from several towns throughout the state submitted testimony in favor of the bill, which they view as a smart and simple strategy for improving emergency storm response plans.
Milford GIS analyst Meghan McGaffin wrote in submitted testimony that GIS data would have aided emergency response after several storms last year.
“Pole data in local Emergency Operations Centers and in the hands of public works, police and fire personnel would have streamlined communication, increased response efficiency and improved restoration prioritization,” Ms. McGaffin stated in her testimony.
McGaffin added that the GIS can be useful to municipalities for other applications as well, such as land-use planning and mapping for wastewater and other agencies.
The bill would require sharing of utility pole data, including pole ownership, identification number, coordinated location, attached lighting and the location of any pole-mounted transformer or circuit.
“The simple ability to put on a map the location of all reported wires down and road blockages caused by wires and trees down certainly gives emergency response planners and responders a much clearer picture of the scope and possible impact of these emergency conditions in real time,” Wilton Fire Chief Paul Milositz stated in testimony submitted to the committee.
Vice Chair: Human Services
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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