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Mapping the Blackboard Jungle

WHEN POLICE AND SWAT teams respond to a school shooting or other crisis situation, there invariably ensues confusion as they try to envision the layout of the school and deploy personnel.

To address the problem, some proactive schools and police departments are partnering to supply first responders with CDs containing three-dimensional images for use during a crisis. A document by the International Chiefs of Police details the process of creating such a CD.

The document outlines the roles of the chief of police and the project manager (who might be a security consultant, for example), explains the basic steps of digital photography, walks readers through integrating digital images of school floor and site plans, and contains a glossary, a product reference guide, a sample photo log and floor plan, and two case studies.

Two types of imaging methods are available. In the 360-degree lens method, one-shot cameras use mirrors to capture 360-degree images in one frame. Special software “flattens” the image into a panoramic shape. With the photo-stitching method, a panoramic view is created with a film or digital camera, via shooting images in rotation around a single point. Software stitches together the multiple views.

Several tips ensure that the project will canvass every view. For instance, the paper advises photographing the corners of the building “for a perspective from adjacent sides in relation to one another… as well as hidden alcoves, inner courtyards, or other smaller areas outside the building that may otherwise be missed….”

When it comes time to integrate the images onto a CD, the document offers several software options for image viewing, image editing, computer-aided design, Web page development, and Internet browsers.