FAQs

You’re not alone in seeking more information about GIS technology and understanding how Beacon works for you.

Could our public safety senior officer effectively do this for us in-house?

You will need to weigh the benefits of dedicating an officer’s salary to planning versus the software cost, maintenance fees, and significant training and continuing education costs required to effectively produce similar results that can be obtained by outsourcing to Beacon GIS.  Unfortunately, if the officer is promoted or leaves the agency, the same initial training costs will need to be incurred again. You also may want to consider that the results produced in-house may have to be defended to outside decision-makers, the press, and the public.  With Beacon GIS’s objective analysis and recommendations, you face less scrutiny.

Can’t our city staff provide this service and avoid an external project fee?

Your town planners and GIS people are handling a multitude of projects from school planning, roads, utility, parks, tax assessment, environmental planning, parks, and zoning to name a few.  You will find that your project will have to wait until they are available to work on it as they are as short staffed as other government departments. Although they are versed in community planning and general GIS techniques, they may not be emergency services experienced.  If so, they would be unfamiliar with first responder activities, often cannot ask the right questions, and cannot adequately represent the situation without extensive time to learn how first responders do their job. You’ll find that your project will be in hand faster and cost less than the time it takes for you to educate your planners about your needs.

How is Beacon GIS different from its competitors?

BeaconGIS possesses the rare combination of Masters Degree learning in Urban Planning,  undergraduate credentials in Public Administration, and real-world, on-the-streets  first responder experience.  This combination provides niche expertise and practical insights that allow us to focus on first responder planning using the latest tools and techniques. Beacon GIS does work with other general public safety consultants who are management, training, and policy experts to produce additional analyses for their clients.  We also work with architects and accounting firms to provide analysis for station locations and consolidation projects.

What’s the process for exploring the feasibility of hiring Beacon GIS?

The first step is to call or email us to request a free, no obligation initial consultation.  During this session, we will get to know your needs for first responder planning efforts.    Once your project deliverables are understood, a scope of work is written for your review.  If acceptable, a total “not to exceed” estimate price is determined based upon the amount of hours we expect it will take us to complete the work.  If the project takes us longer than expected, there is no additional charge.  If it takes us less time to finish the job, than the price is based upon actual hours. Once a formal contract is signed, BeaconGIS begins right away with gathering data and other pertinent information, and interviewing stakeholders of your agencies.

Is your raw data (population, road plan, etc) more up to date than what we have access to?

It really depends upon the community.  Some communities have produced very accurate and large volumes of information, while others hardly have any.  Since most communities rely upon the US Census for population and demographic data, the answer for that data would be no.  Most communities may be more up-to-date regarding the road layout but may lack other certain data with it such as speed limit, one way designation, and surface type.  Again, this is largely dependent upon the community capability but there are national stock data repositories that BeaconGIS can access through their subscription membership to acquire data for the community.

How can you provide us a forward looking plan if we don’t yet have a plan ourselves?

This is understandable, first responders typically plan to react when an emergency occurs.  Future planning has a tendency to be put on the “back burner”.  Beacon GIS develops your future plan by putting together the data pieces of your current conditions and the community you serve to project possible scenarios.  Beacon GIS then seeks to help you meet the immediate or current needs and provide a plan for future needs based upon these scenarios.