DHS Deploys Data-Rich Emergency Maps

Dynamic, data-rich maps drawn from a wide variety of disparate sources are the Department of Homeland Security's newest tool in the urban emergency preparedness arsenal.

by / October 26, 2012

In the event of an urban catastrophe, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has access to a new mapping tool to mitigate the damage.

In conjunction with the agency's participation in the Wide Area Recovery & Resiliency Program (WARRP), the DHS will be able to use dynamic maps that pull data from multiple sources to provide emergency officials with an accurate, cohesive view of the situation. Developed by TerraGo Technologies and supported by Esri ArcGIS technology, the system integrates data such as NOAA weather reports, plume models, utility GIS data sets, imagery and base maps that are refreshed dynamically, according to a press release.

“WARRP focuses on a coordinated systems approach to the recovery and resiliency of wide urban areas, including all types of critical infrastructure, key civilian and military resources and high traffic areas and transit facilities,” said William J. Ginley, chief, NBC Battlefield Management Branch, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. “TerraGo Technologies’ geospatial collaboration software, as part of WARRP, will provide responders with the latest geospatial intelligence to advance the response and recovery processes to save lives, mitigate damage and promote order in the wake of an incident.”

Emergency officials with limited or no training will be able to “fetch new information about their Area of Interest (AOI) via an index map from enterprise or Web portals in real time, or in disconnected environments, from a laptop or USB flash drive,” according to the release. Users can also attach media such as pictures, sound or video to maps for collaboration.

“The ability to maintain and distribute current comprehensive sets of georeferenced information that can be consumed by non-GIS planners and responders is essential for any recovery,” said Jeff Vining, Gartner research vice president for government research and geospatial surveillance operational technology. “The technologies fostered by the WARRP project will provide valuable new tools and expertise to enhance public safety in a catastrophic event.”