Nanning City Gets Serious About Emergency Response

The Chinese Metropolis Uses GIS to Enable Coordinated Action


  • ArcGIS technology serves as the basis of the entire Nanning City Emergency Response System.
  • GIS provides automatic tracking and positioning of motor vehicles and important place monitoring.
  • The position of help call origins is displayed on the electronic map to ensure that alarm calls are accurately located.

With an overall population of 6.6 million, the modern urban complex of Nanning City has a towering skyline and is located where southern and southwestern China adjoin the Southeast Asia economic circle. It is the largest city in Guangxi Province, and due to its many public parks, it is sometimes called the Green City.

The Nanning City Emergency Response System.

The Nanning City Emergency Response System.

Though a historically significant border city, Nanning is making history now due to the development of its pioneering emergency response system.

The Chinese Urban Emergency System

In greater China, the typical urban emergency system is decentralized. In the event of an emergency, citizens need to subjectively judge which of many government agencies they think will be responsible for assisting in an accident and also decide which emergency phone number from a long list needs to be called, such as 110 for police, 119 for fire, 120 for ambulance, 122 for traffic police, 999 for the Red Cross, and 12345 for the mayor's office. There are also separate numbers for flood control; air defense; water, electricity, gas, and other public utilities emergency relief; and so forth. On the one hand, the decentralized management of these systems leads to the waste of resources and, on the other hand, reduces the reaction speed and efficiency of the emergency system. Sometimes calls are rejected by the agency because citizens judged incorrectly. Even if they've made the right call, an accident may involve various agencies, and the coordination between them might cause a significantly delayed response.

The New Guiding Star

But for Nanning City, that is all in the past. Nanning City Emergency Response System is China's first urban emergency response system constructed under the approval of the State Planning Commission and is China's only system based on government leadership. The system is unified so that no matter what accident citizens report, they can choose any of the telephone numbers they remember, are familiar with, or even just like. All these numbers are transferred to the central Emergency Operations Center, and then the system determines which agencies should respond, significantly streamlining and speeding up emergency response. Through interoperability, all kinds of rescue resources are shared, and a unified command and coordination is achieved between different departments, police districts, and police types.

ArcGIS Involvement

ArcGIS technology serves as the basis of the entire Nanning City Emergency Response System, and it integrates the data from public security, traffic police, fire control, medical, telecommunications, electricity, municipal construction, and other industries. Emergency response, as its name implies, is quick joint action to dispose of a variety of sudden social emergency issues and events. The key is to use the joint response with highest efficiency. ArcGIS is the new foundation of that response.

Currently, the GIS covers 22,080 square kilometers in the municipal districts; has 1:1,000, 1:2,000, 1:5,000, 1:10,000, 1:50,000, 1:100,000, 1:250,000, and 1:500,000 scales; and has 56 data layers (more than any other electronic map system in China) concerning distribution of various police types, administration areas, fire control facilities, medical institutions, water conservancy facilities, alarm phone positioning, electrical equipment, governmental agencies, and other enterprises and institutions. The system can display the data and images of GPS and monitoring points in real time.

Nanning City, China.

Nanning City, China.

In addition, three fields of information for nearly one million phones in Nanning can be shown on the electronic map; for all alarm calls from fixed-line telephones, electronic maps can display the location of the callers and telephone owner information.

Says Jingtao Zhang, director of emergency industry sales for Esri China Information Technology Co. Ltd., Esri's distributor in China, "Even if the help seekers are not able to express themselves well, such as the disabled, critically ill patients, and children, GIS can accurately display the position of help calls on the electronic map so as to ensure that all requests for assistance, complaints, and alarm calls are accurately located."

Moreover, application of ArcGIS equips Nanning City Emergency Response System with automatic tracking and positioning of motor vehicles (including special vehicles), important place monitoring, public facilities information (remote control, telemetry, video monitoring and regulation, remote viewing), and other value-added application scalability.

Full Coverage of Administrative Areas

Inspired by a Nanning City leaders' visit to United States 911 emergency centers in 1998, this system began operation in 2002. Today, tremendous results and changes are clearly reflected in the following figures: it now takes just 2 seconds to deal with emergency situations, much faster than the domestic industry standard of 10-15 seconds; emergency handling capacity is six times greater than before the establishment of the center; alarm calls received daily have increased by six to nine times, from about 800 to more than 5,000 calls on average; the effective help-seeking rate increased by 1.7 times; and the command signal coverage area expanded by 120 times. Data shows that, up to May 2011, the system had accumulatively answered more than 15.28 million help calls, an average of more than 150,000 monthly, and had dealt with more than 2 million valid events of all kinds. This is the great role played by Nanning City Emergency Response System.

An upgrade of Nanning City Emergency Response System, including ArcGIS, is about to be performed, which, when completed, will gradually shift its analog trunking mode to a more stable and reliable digital trunking. Nanning invested in the construction of one switching center and eight coverage base stations for the large district system. The new system will achieve full coverage of the administrative areas of Nanning City and interconnection with the Guangxi government.

For more information, contact Biao Wen, officer of Nanning City Emergency Response Center (e-mail:, or Jingtao Zhang, director of emergency industry sales, Esri China Information Technology Co. Ltd.(e-mail:

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