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The Virtual Alabama Safe Hospitals System

The Virtual Alabama online mapping system for safety and security utilizes Google Maps technology to provide first-responders such as police and fire personnel with a detailed layout of public buildings in emergencies. The system is already used by 1,500 public schools in the state. In 2012, when the University of Montevallo became the first college to implement Virtual Alabama, April Weaver, the director of business development for Shelby Baptist Medical Center (SBMC), recognized the tremendous potential the system holds for hospitals. David Wilson, President of SBMC, credited Weaver with the idea of bringing the hospital into Virtual Alabama. Weaver noted, “We’re very proud to be . . . the hospital pilot facility for Virtual Alabama.” The Shelby County Community Health Foundation provided the necessary funding for a team of experts to develop the hospital’s mapping system over a span of approximately 14 to 15 months. After much hard work, Shelby Baptist Medical Center is now, as Governor Robert Bentley stated, a “model for the rest of the state and the rest of the country.”

The system provides a secure visualization platform that uses a detailed three-dimensional online map to show the location of rooms within a particular facility according to name, color code, and number. Using Google Street View technology, static 360 degree views of hallways and larger rooms allow virtual navigation of the facility by medical center staff and first-responders. Additionally, information is provided about fire protection and utilities such as electrical wiring, gas lines, and water lines. The Virtual Alabama system utilizes video surveillance and photos of key areas and components to allow emergency officials to plan their responses to a wide array of crisis situations. The unique benefits that this system brings to hospitals are manifold. As the accompanying video demonstrates, hospitals that utilize Virtual Alabama will be able to offer first-responders a distinct advantage whether they are preparing for natural disasters or responding to criminal activity. Now, with the addition of other critical infrastructure such as courthouses, hospitals, and government owned buildings, we are beginning to see, to an even greater degree, the immense value of Virtual Alabama as well as the far-reaching impact this system can have on emergency planning, response, and recovery as its application spreads. 

NoName Facilities Conference, May 4-6, 2014

SICS spent Memorial Day with our friends from Rochester and Associates Engineers on Jekyll Island, GA for the 2014 NoName Facilities Conference.  The VirtualSafe campus mapping program was debuted during a presentation to facilities managers and directors from colleges and universities across the state.  VirtualSafe allows these professionals to GPS locate, photo document and share critical infrastructure and day-to-day utilities information with facilities staff and contractors.  The platform also allows community first responders to view this information during emergencies at the discretion of campus administrators.

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