Tifton -- A south Georgia school system has a new high-tech program that will help protect students in an emergency. It's an intricate school mapping systems that will help schools and local law enforcement prepare for and respond to life threatening emergencies.
Law Enforcement Agencies in Tift County now have a new tool to help them prepare for emergency management in the school system. "In case of emergency, they can-- off sight-- tell their crews where certain items are," said Interim Superintendent Patrick Atwater.
This new tool is a first of its kind mapping system, showing first responders the emergency evacuation exits, fire equipment, and locations of other disaster preparedness hardware for each of the 14 schools in the county. "They love it for the fact that it helps them prepare in the case there is an emergency but we pray to God we never have to use it," said RDC Project Manager Michael Rivera.
These 3-D maps show scaled floor plans placed over aerial photographs of the schools. "We could overlay the blue prints on top of the buildings aerial photography and then GPS their utility points," Rivera said.
But it's the details that set these maps apart from the others. The school board recruited the help of its maintenance staff, many who have been around for decades, to help show them all utility features, both seen and unseen.
Together they came up with a list of features to add to the map. "Spigots, storm drains, telephone pullouts, the list goes on and on," says Rivera.
They say this detail will not only help future law enforcement agencies, but future employees as well. "This will save future maintenance staffs a lot of time spent digging for those lost water valves, gas valves, or manhole covers."
The Tift County School board and the South Georgia Regional Development Center will continue to update these maps as each school grows and changes.
The National Association of Development Organization honored the South Georgia Regional Development Center in Valdosta with the 2006 Innovation Award for the Tift County Schools Mapping Project.