West Carroll students use technology to improve safety

Mary Ann Van Osdell  |  11/19/2009 2:20:49 AM

Three West Carroll Parish high school students learned enough sophisticated computer technology that they were able to create digital fire district maps, which will be used to improve local services in the parish.

"This started two years ago on a cold January morning when the students went to get 4-H training on GIS in Baton Rouge," said James Barnes, director of the LSU AgCenter’s Delta Rural Development Center in Oak Grove. "It sparked an interest for this type of work."

GIS stands for Global Information System and is a type of computer technology that takes advantage of information from satellites.

Students Seth Strong, Dustin Waits and Charles Dupree from Forest High School were trained in GIS technology and collected data points for every fire hydrant in West Carroll Parish. Fire chiefs gave them feedback along the way.

"When the community wants something to happen in the delta, it happens. This will save property, time and, most importantly, lives," said Dwight Landreneau, LSU AgCenter associate vice chancellor.

The project was completed Sept. 11, and the maps in the forms of framed posters and compact discs have been presented to fire chiefs in eight districts.

"We can have a map of every district for our automatic aid agreement. Shared information is always a good thing," said Mike Berry, fire chief in Forest.

Waits said he had a good feeling about doing a project that can save lives, and Strong said he will add the project to his resume and plans to major in civil engineering in college.

The other LSU AgCenter agents helping with the GIS training were R.L. Frazier, Madison Parish; Dennis Burns, Tensas Parish; Myrl Sistrunk, West Carroll Parish; and Keith Morris, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering

Mary Ann Van Osdell

(This article was published in the fall 2009 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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