Saturday, June 27, 2009
GeoComm, the nation’s leading developer of computerized mapping software for 911 communications systems, is going international.
And St. Cloud State University alumni will be there, leading the sales effort, supporting clients, developing maps, programming software and advising public safety agencies on everything from radio systems to mapping solutions for vehicles.
Near one-fourth of GeoComm’s employees are St. Cloud State graduates, including Dan Rudningen ’89, co-founder and vice president of sales and marketing.
Rudningen is focused on Canada these days, educating potential clients and developing partnerships on the heels of a government requirement that wireless service providers upgrade 911 services. By Feb. 1, 2010, Canadian providers must be able to locate a celn automatically transmit that location to a 911 call center.
GeoComm is equipped to succeed in Canada because it helped pioneer the same systems in the United States, including the first federally approved wireless 911 system, installed in 2000 in St. Clair County, Ill.
Wireless 911 “opened the door for our company’s success,” Rudningen said.
Working with Rudningen on the top floor of GeoComm’s historic brick building in St. Cloud is Jody Sayre ’98, Sauk Rapids, vice president of client services. Sayre supervises employees in the company’s three areas of expertise: 911 software, geographic information system (GIS) map data and public safety consulting.
She works with clients in 43 states, including the Mid-America Regional Council, the organization that coordinates 911 services for nine counties and 120 cities in the bi-state Kansas City region.
Sayre’s responsibilities include managing the ongoing development of GeoLynx 9-1-1, the company’s flagship software suite. GeoLynx is a command-and-control emergency dispatch system that plots the location of emergency callers, regardless of the type of phone – wired, cellular or Internet-bl phone user making an emergency call and theased. GeoLynx also can provide call-takers, dispatchers and responders with a wealth of detailed information, including driving directions, exterior photographs, floor plans, access points and easements.
Another St. Cloud State graduate leading the charge into Canada is Kathy Liljequist ’96, St. Cloud, GIS consultant and 13-year GeoComm veteran. Liljequist, who holds a master’s degree in geography, recently helped deliver a presentation at a public safety annual meeting in Ontario. Among her presentation themes was the importance of maintaining accurate GIS map data.
“You can have the Cadillac version of software,” said Liljequist. “But if you don’t have accurate data it’s not going to do you any good.”
“That’s what is different about 911,” said Sayre. “Accuracy has to be 100 percent.”
GeoComm has benefited from a “critical mass” of St. Cloud State geography graduates, according to Tom Grones, co-founder, chief executive officer and president. Graduates know ESRI ArcView, the same software platform GeoComm uses. And, Grones said, they tend to be from the area and want to stay in the area.
Professor Ben Richason, who advises GIS students at St. Cloud State, worked with GeoComm’s co-founders in the mid-1980s when Stearns County set up its 911 system. Grones was the county’s emergency services director. Rudningen was one of about 10 geography students who developed the 911 map, including inventing street names and addresses for rural areas.
Back then students drew maps by hand in the former Tideman Cartographic Center. Today’s Spatial Analysis Research Center is filled with computers and serves a range of clients, including agencies such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and corporations such as Target.
The one constant through the years: The Geography Department produces graduates who know how to process and display geographic information.
Said Richason: “We prepare graduates who are well-trained, highly-motivated GIS professionals.”
St. Cloud State Alumni at GeoComm
Jake Anderson ’03, St. Cloud, implementation supervisor
Located: Historic Lahr Block, 604 West St. Germain, in downtown St. Cloud