Electrical Designs to Visualize the Safety of City Buildings

The ability to visualize and articulate ideas in a succinct manner is a challenge that many of us face.  In this week’s post, we will take a closer look at a recent interview with Kevin Jones, the Executive Director of Emergency Communications.  As a long time SmartDraw User, Jones shares with us a few of the accomplishments he has been able to achieve using diagrams.

Can you tell me about your role as the Executive Director of the Emergency Communications District of Ector County?

The Emergency Communication District of Ector County is charged with providing call delivery of communication services between the public and public safety response agencies.  In short, we provide access to 911 within our jurisdiction.  We provide the network mechanism that is utilized by various telephone, internet, and cellular companies in allowing their customers to reach emergency service personnel by dialing or activating the numbers 911 on their communication devices.

As Executive Director it is my responsibility to see that this gets done, while providing not only for the interests of the public, but the public safety agencies and employees.  This expands beyond mere network design to product procurement, training, as well as financial obligations and human resource requirements.

Please share with us your background.

kevin jones
Kevin Jones, Executive Director

I am a retired police officer having served over 35 years with both our local police department and sheriff office.  While I did obtain my emergency medical technician certification, my service has been on the law enforcement side of public-safety.  I currently hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, Bachelor in Business Administration, and an Associate in Applied Science, along with being a registered Emergency Number Professional through the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).



Why were you looking for a new design tool? Why did you choose SmartDraw?

As a visual person, I was initially looking for a drafting or drawing program that would allow me to construct floor plans of the buildings we utilize.  It would allow for the layout of various network components such as electrical wiring, IP network layouts, telephone lines, etc.  Additionally, I was hoping for something that allowed for furniture layout designs to be able to ‘see’ where wiring needed to be laid, installed, and set in order to create the most functional work environment.

SmartDraw appeared to offer all of the basic drawing elements that I was looking for.  It allowed me to switch line types and library items relatively easy.  Initially, I would work on the floor plans, then adding electrical wiring layouts, then IP lines.

I was previously using AutoCAD, then ArcInfo/ArcView products in conjunction with mapping requirements we had.  AutoCAD allowed me to expand beyond mapping, but was not quick and easy to use as SmartDraw.  AutoCAD updates required retraining on the program at least once a year – time I did not have.

Which features and functionality do you find that you use the most?

I use it for building layouts, mostly.  I generally do not use templates as I draw everything from scratch.  I do use the library.  The library symbols are basically used to add details to the floor plans.

When new equipment is ordered, installed, or moved, new wiring requirements need to be accounted for.  With SmartDraw, I am able to keep up with basic layouts of cables throughout the buildings.  I update the layout drawings every time there is work done and a line or furniture item is changed.

How are SmartDraw Diagrams used in your organization?

I normally use it for buildings throughout the county.  I did use it in the recent renovation of our new office building.

As initial remodeling took place we were able to identify and correspond every electrical outlet, light, air conditioning ducts, wiring, digital lines, cable lines, and water lines.  Even the sprinkler system is on its own layer.  As we prepare for any remodels and equipment moves, the SmartDraw drawings allowed us to make modifications and determine which option(s) we ultimately go with.


I created an initial Electrical Design showing a major system flaw that was corrected.  The electrical flow diagram helped to explain to city personnel the potential fire hazard that existed and clearly showed current power usage in such a clear and easy fashion, that the decision to spend significant sums of monies to make the updates was made rather quickly.

OCC Electrical Design - per Audit Mar 2012


Our most recent drawings concern our new office space.  Here is the series of SmartDraw diagrams that were used to aide in the transformation of an existing medical practice that converted into the government agency office building that stands today.

Floor Plan Based on Original Blueprints  The diagram shows information gleaned from original floor plans that had to be recreated.  It was quickly apparent that the original floor plan did not match what existed as some of the walls did not measure up.  Apparently, some modifications had been made during or after construction but were never noted.  The building was purchased in October of last year.

Initial Occupancy Layout SD submission
Floor Plan Based on Original Blueprints

STAGE 1: Initial Occupancy Layout 1  After taking ownership of the building, we were able to take measurements and incorporate them into the floor plans.  This floor plan is a more accurate drawing.  Although not all the measurements added up right, the basic design structure was evident.

Initial Occupancy Layout 1 SD submission
STAGE 1: Initial Occupancy Layout 1

STAGE 2: Initial Occupancy Layout 2  I was able to tighten up the measurements a little more.  Some initial remodeling occurred in February of this year, before we moved into the new office.

Initial Occupancy Layout 2 SD submission
STAGE 2: Initial Occupancy Layout 2

STAGE 3: Initial Occupancy Layout 3  In this diagram, I began identifying electrical layouts.  Other layers were added as the remodeling took place.

Initial Occupancy Layout 3 SD submission
STAGE 3: Initial Occupancy Layout 3

All of the floor plans were eventually merged into one master floor plan composed of several layers.  The default layer contains the accurate floor plan with walls, doors, and windows.  A separate layer was added to the floor plan diagram to document the electrical, furniture, built-ins, lighting, cameras, IP cabling, including a room identification label layer.

What advice would you give to a NEW SmartDraw user?

Play with it.  Open the program up and start using it.  As you play with it, think of how you might be able to do what you just did – only faster.  Then look it up in the Help feature and learn how to do it.  Add all your new tricks together and before you know it, you have the foundation for your drawing.