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Wisconsin grant to help map schools in case of emergencies

Posted at 10:17 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 23:17:42-04

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — A new state program is helping pay to map schools in case of emergencies, like an active-shooter situation.

Sheboygan Police adopted the maps a year ago, and it's already used them in minor incidents at schools.

"The officers could immediately pull up the map on a phone and see where they were, and right where to respond," said Sheboygan Chief of Police Christopher Domagalski.

A company called Critical Response Group (CRG) mapped Sheboygan School District facilities. Its clients are not limited to schools and include hospitals, stadiums, and businesses of all sizes, such as YouTube.

The maps are all based on an aerial view. The buildings sit on a north-oriented grid, similar to the grid you'd find in the game Battleship.

CRG employees walk all schools to map them completely and incorporate names of rooms and parking lots, for example, that are specific to each school.

WI grant to pay for school maps for first responders

"I hate that we have to talk about this for schools, for anywhere in particular. But we have to talk about it," said Joseph Hanson, regional director of sales and implementation at CRG.

CRG has mapped more than 400 schools in Wisconsin. They all paid out of pocket — between $3,000 to $3,500 on average.

To involve more schools, CRG went to state lawmakers with its plan to map every school in the state. Now, the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice is offering $2 million in grants through 2024, depending on the availability of funds.

West Allis West Milwaukee School District told TMJ4 News it's interested in the program and hopes to receive funding.

In addition to the costs for mapping, CRG charges an annual fee of $500, essentially for an annual walk-through and update to maps.

Law enforcement, at no cost, can access the digital maps through the company's GXP OnScene app. Not only do the maps provide a detailed layout of each school, but they also provide real-time location tracking of first responders on the scene.

Paper maps — always reliable and without the need for a charge or signal — are also provided to clients.

Chief Domagalski said he hopes more schools and more law enforcement take note of the technology.

"Sometimes we don't really understand what's being offered or talked about," he said. "Really touch base and talk to those who are using the tech, to understand the advantages."

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