Static to Interactive: Upgrading school building maps sent to police, state for emergency responses in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. — On Tuesday, a legislative committee released several million dollars for use by the state Department of Justice, including $2 million targeted to improve the types of school building maps kept by both the DOJ and local law enforcement.

Effective in 2019, schools across Wisconsin are required by law to upload both building map blueprints as well as a number of other safety-related documents annually to the state Department of Justice as well as local law enforcement agencies.

The requirements are designed to streamline emergency responses, as well as give the state and local police a better picture of the safety plans in place in specific school districts.

The $2 million clearing the Joint Finance Committee unanimously on Tuesday is designed to help schools across Wisconsin upgrade the type of map they’re submitting, from a static document to a more interactive, realtime-friendly digital tool.

Officials say it’s a measure far more effective for guiding first responders where to run in the middle of an emergency response.

“The maps actually can do things that blueprints can’t,” explained Trish Kilpin, director of the DOJ’s Office of School Safety. “If somebody has a medical event outside the pool, you can send a signal to show exactly where that is so that the responders can respond to the right location, pull up at the right entrance, and there can be some efficiency in terms of meeting the need of the crisis.”

Some schools already use the data-mapping digital system; under the $2 million released by JFC today, schools can get up to $5,000 to assist with a similar upgrade.

“It provides more realistic data, and it provides it in a more efficient way,” Kilpin said. “If we can increase the response time of our EMS and police, we are hopefully going to be more successful in saving lives.”