The 9-1-1 & Geospatial Services Bureau (NGS) is organized in three service units. Two of the units, the Virginia Geographic Information Network (VGIN) Division and Public Safety Communications (PSC) Division, are required by and established in the Code of Virginia. The third unit is the NGS Regional Outreach program. Utilizing a common outreach effort for both the VGIN and PSC divisions improves efficiency of the program especially since many efforts impact both services. NGS provides staff support to the 9-1-1 Services Board through the PSC and VGIN Advisory Board through VGIN. In addition to utilizing the Boards, several communities of interest network (CoIN) councils will be formed to more adequately represent the stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth in each discipline.
Since much of the NGS Bureau is funded through the Wireless E-911 Fund, NGS has a different funding source than the rest of VDEM. However, the GIS services offered by NGS are rated services and must collect sufficient revenue to support not only the delivery of the service, but also the basic operation of the VGIN Division. The service rates were approved by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) in December 2006.
One of the biggest challenges for NGS will be ensuring participation from all required partners. Many of the projects of NGS will require the active involvement of many stakeholders (as many as 158 different agencies), but NGS does not have the authority to compel participation. Encouragement and incentives have been the best approach for NGS so far, but it is difficult to ensure 100% participation with only these tools available. Another challenge will be getting state agencies to pay for services that they currently receive for free, especially when basic funding is unavailable in many of these agencies.
Overall the outlook for NGS is promising. The team established within the bureau is highly skilled, trained and motivated. One key to the continued success of NGS will be the investment into the development of staff to ensure that they maintain their sharp edge. Additionally, NGS enjoys strong relationships with many state agencies and local governments that can be leveraged by the partnerships as services are expanded in the future.
The following sections provide a general overview of the statutory or established duties of each unit in NGS:
The Code of Virginia (§2.2-2026) establishes that the VGIN Division “shall foster the creative utilization of geographic information and oversee the development of a catalog of GIS data available in the Commonwealth.” It further defines (§ 2.2-2027) the powers and duties of the Division as follows:
- Requesting the services, expertise, supplies and facilities of VDEM from the State Coordinator on issues concerning the Division;
- Accepting grants from the United States government and agencies and instrumentalities thereof and any other source. To those ends, the Division shall have the power to comply with such conditions and execute such agreements as may be necessary or desirable;
- Fixing, altering, charging, and collecting rates, rentals, and other charges for the use or sale of products of, or services rendered by, the Division, at rates which reflect the fair market value;
- Soliciting, receiving, and considering proposals for funding projects or initiatives from any state or federal agency, local or regional government, public institution of higher education, nonprofit organization, or private person or corporation;
- Soliciting and accepting funds, goods and in-kind services that are part of any accepted project proposal;
- Establishing ad hoc committees or project teams to investigate related technology or technical issues and providing results and recommendations for Division action; and
- Establishing such bureaus, sections or units as the Division deems appropriate to carry out its powers and duties.
The Code of Virginia (§2.2-2031) establishes that the PSC Division “shall provide staff support to the 9-1-1 Services Board and encourage, promote, and assist in the development and deployment of statewide enhanced emergency telecommunications systems.”
Regional Outreach Program
When the regional coordination offices were established in early 2006, it was unclear how they would be received by the localities. While their creation was at the recommendation of several in the PSAP community, it was expected that it would take some time before they were fully utilized. Interestingly, almost from their first week, the regional coordinators have been overwhelmed with requests for assistance. As a result, the number of regions has been increased from the original four to seven, which now align with the Department of Homeland Security regions and Virginia State Police Divisions.
Currently, each regional coordinator with the support of the PSC and VGIN Coordinators is developing plans for providing services in their region to support E-911 and GIS. Up to this point, the requests from the localities have been controlling their efforts, but through effective planning, the requests for services can be better managed. During this planning process, some services may be identified that the regional coordinators can no longer support, but the goal is to provide the consultative services to the localities that they need to be effective.
Obtain contact information for the Regional Coordinators.
Look up contact information for a local PSAP or PSAP manager.