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New public safety hub introduced for Pennington County

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 4:39 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - How can you know what roads are closed during a fire, flood, or blizzard?

In the past, public officials used social media or press releases to warn the public of changes in road closures due to disasters.

Although the information got out, there were issues with timeliness.

Now, the new Pennington County Public Safety Hub will resolve those issues by collecting official public transportation information in one location in a real-time system.

“It’s simply a matter of seconds between when somebody enters an impact in their phone, or their tablet, or computer, from they hit submit, it’s literally a matter of seconds before that impact is displayed on the map that’s available to the public,” said Rapid City and Pennington County’s Director of Emergency Management, Dustin Willett.

So, what constitutes an emergency for the safety hub? It all depends on the duration.

“So, vehicle accidents, or water breaks, or things that have to reroute traffic for a little bit. If it’s only going to be a short-term impact, it might not make it to the hub,” said Willett.

A previous example of a time where a safety hub website like this could have been useful was when the Schroeder fire burned earlier this spring.

“In the Schroeder Road case, what we would have been able to do with the map that we currently have available to the public is put the evacuation areas right onto that map so members of the public could immediately see what evacuation was out there, what evacuation areas were being impacted,” said Willett.

The transportation lifeline is active on the website now. Willet hopes to add more community life-lines down the road.

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