Last week, Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri announced that the state now provides emergency response personnel in four communities with key information about the premises where an emergency call originates. The technology, called "Pictometry," is now being used in a pilot project with the E-9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System.

High-resolution, oblique aerial photos of any location enable users to focus on a specific building, property, or highway and determine distance, height, elevation and area directly from the image. This system is now in effect in Cranston, Providence, Warwick and Newport.

"In Rhode Island, we are committed to arming our 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers, police, and firefighters with a thorough understanding of the emergency they are responding to," Governor Carcieri said. "This imaging will enable dispatchers to view a location from many different angles. That means that first responders will be equipped with all of the pertinent information before they get to the scene."

Pictometry provides a selection of up to 12 photographs, oblique views of highways, buildings and property, and automatically shows the four best views when an address is entered. Use of this program is expected to improve response time and reduce unnecessary risk to the first responders.

"Currently, our E-9-1-1 staffer forwards an incoming emergency call to the appropriate department- either police, fire, or rescue - while reviewing the mapping system," said Ray LaBelle, Executive Director of Rhode Island E-9-1-1. "Now, there is also detailed information about the neighborhood features to report, and that can be invaluable to first responders."

Due to the specifications of the program, personal privacy is not at risk. Photo details deteriorate as a section of an image is enlarged, making details such as faces and license plates illegible.

Funding for this pilot program was provided by a $75,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. The vendor is Pictometry International Corp. of Rochester, N.Y.