New Design Mapping Improves Safety, Response for Schools

When we’re designing schools, we’re intensively focused on how each space will be used and thinking ahead for as many scenarios as possible. Safety is always top of mind. We know that every second that passes, during an incident at a school, without a response has an impact on lives and property damage.

As we facilitate community conversations on projects and work on remodeling or building new schools, we keep asking ourselves, “What else can we do?”

New technology and a partnership with the nation’s leading public safety GIS software mapping provider now enables us to take that planning to a new level to promote safety and learning.

We have long brought together school leaders and law enforcement during our community engagement and design processes. An enhanced partnership between IIW, law enforcement and GeoComm provided two Greater St. Cloud school districts with an opportunity to map the building sites for their new high schools to improve safety, response time and peace of mind. This is now being expanded to other school districts.


We started by integrating a series of safety measures into the design of the new high schools in Sartell and St. Cloud, but wanted to do more to improve response time. Could we use our building models to help 9-1-1 dispatchers better pinpoint the location of an incident – no matter where they call from?

The current 9-1-1 system in our country had been built for landline phones that are connected to specific addresses using databases provided by the phone companies. Now the vast majority of 9-1-1 calls (70 to 80 percent) come from mobile phones, which most commonly send locations based on the closest cell phone tower.

In a recent Wall Street Journal report, U.S. regulators estimated “as many as 10,000 lives could be saved each year if the 9-1-1 emergency dispatching system were able to get to callers one minute faster.” Without more precise information being provided from a wireless device, the call can show up blocks or even miles away from the caller’s actual location.


We know 9-1-1 dispatchers are well trained and do amazing work. But they need better information and this partnership is helping to provide that. GeoComm’s Dispatch Map software uses building models and RapidSOS technology to more precisely display caller locations. Here’s how it works:

  • Mapping the building
    IIW provides GeoComm with three-dimensional models of schools that are used to create 2D map layers that depict the school footprint, classrooms, and other rooms and features. These 2D maps are displayed in GeoComm Dispatch Map software at the 9-1-1 dispatch center.
  • Provides location and details automatically
    When a 9-1-1 call is made from within a school or school faculty use an app to initiate a 9-1-1 call, the caller’s location is queried from and their exact location is displayed on the 2D map indicating which room they are located in. This provides the dispatch center with more accurate location information to relay onto first responders.
  • App alerts administration or 9-1-1
    Users can indicate the reason for the 9-1-1 call and it will display in command view at the dispatch center.
  • Integrate security cameras
    Schools can also have a school camera layer displayed in GeoComm Dispatch Map, where dispatch centers could click on the link, and if authorized, show school security camera feeds.

Future updates could allow first responders to open and shut doors, with the school’s permission.

GeoComm developed and implemented a similar system for use during the Super Bowl in 2018 to improve safety across the Twin Cities during the national event.

IIW and GeoComm know the impact this can have on schools and the broader community is significant and seek to make it as accessible as possible. Bringing this to your school district can happen quickly at a reasonable cost with a high return in improved safety and peace of mind in your community. It starts with a building model that can be integrated into the software. Learn more and get started today by contacting us.