By Jeff Cole

Ellicottville is officially geared up to host Centurion Weekend, a series of spirited bike racing competitions and family fun Aug. 17–19, 2012. As spectators follow the events from roadside vantage points, the races will also be monitored by sophisticated tracking technology to keep racers safe.

During the race, new tracking technology will be introduced and implemented, which includes iPhones, with a custom application and custom-made “cloud-based” mapping services. Paul Frey, Cattaraugus County geographic information systems coordinator, said the technology will allow for Christopher Baker and his Cattaraugus County Emergency Services team, stationed in its Mobile Command Post, to know where the lead car of any race is at any time using laptops.

“This means they’ll essentially know the status and pace of the race,” he said.

The way the technology works, Frey said, is the lead car will carry an iPhone with the tracking app turned on and the app will check its location every 30 seconds, then transmit the coordinates back to the servers. In turn, the servers transmit the location and maps out to any emergency responders in the field.

“By knowing the location of the lead car and the pace of the race, safety is greatly improved. If inclement weather moves in, we will be able to tell if and when it will affect the race. Also, the map displaying the lead car’s location has all the law enforcement posts and water stations on it as well, so if there is an accident, we will be able to quickly tell who is the closest and who should respond,” said Frey.

Frey said the technology will be introduced during the Centurion because “it is now functional, and the race provides a perfect opportunity to use the system in an environment that is not quite as hectic as a disaster-response scenario.” He said the tracking app, which is part of a larger system called Real-time Emergency Deployment Geographic Information Systems (RED GIS), and the RED GIS system as a whole will improve Cattaraugus County’s disaster preparedness and response capabilities greatly through the centralization of information.

“The system is state-of-the-art and was also developed from scratch by Cattaraugus County GIS and Emergency Services,” he said.

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