a database file or Web-based URL.

Pennywitt said GTVC v2.1 is easier to use than a full-blown GIS. The system can track chemical or smoke plumes and help personnel plan evacuation routes. To do this, it tracks critical personnel and supply resources, and shows those assets' status.

Pennywitt designed the GTVC so planners and responders don't need extensive GIS training. The system provides collaborative mission planning, rehearsal, recording and playback. Users from multiple locations can perform real-time operations and exercise planning with GTVC, which also provides a live view of a scene for first responders.

All actions performed with the mapping tool are recorded and time-stamped for future retrieval and playback, which can help emergency planners use lessons learned for exercise planning.

Statewide Rollout?

Since 2005, GEMA has used GTVC v2.1 to map critical infrastructure and track resources; the tool was distributed to GEMA field staff. It's also used by the Georgia Office of Homeland Security, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Patrol. GEMA is implementing the GTVC statewide as part of its critical infrastructure.

"Through this interactive application, if a major event causes a major response requiring mutual aid or the state responds, the local jurisdiction can map the location, any problems, and show a response route," Reichert said. "We can be in Atlanta, depict the same screen back to Savannah, and display what their routes will be and plume models."

Emergency Visions provides emergency management solutions for the private and public sectors, and has used the GTVC for "comprehensive situational awareness" as part of its geo-mapping tool.

"[The GTVC] is one of the key components of our comprehensive solution," said Ric Gray, vice president of sales and marketing for Emergency Visions. "During an event, being able to plan for and visualize from a geographic standpoint, and to go in after the event and debrief about it, allows for a much higher level of planning and faster response."

New Tool for Florida

Florida's Division of Emergency Management is implementing a solution that includes the GTVC v2.1 for statewide disaster response that will use the expertise of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the National Emergency Management Network and Emergency Visions to provide comprehensive disaster management.

The ICMA advises governments to draw on a networked emergency management approach, which consists of a technology platform that maintains a comprehensive database of human and physical assets available for emergency response and recovery, and a geo-mapping tool to identify, select, activate, track and manage these assets.

GTVC v2.1 is essential for Florida to manage the eight to 40 disaster events that occur each day, said Charles Hagan, chief of the Florida Division of Emergency Management's unified logistics section. During a typical hurricane, a vast network of emergency assets are deployed: upward of 1,200 trucks, about 50 helicopters, three aircraft, 800 generators and 2,000 first responders.

"We wanted something that was easy for a field user that doesn't require a master's software degree, with layers of resources put over a simple map, on a platform that's user-friendly, so a first responder can use it," Hagan said. "[The GTVC] works very well - it's uncomplicated, and you can teach somebody in two hours."

Pennywitt's software development team improved the GTVC to give Florida new capabilities, including real-time resource tracking. But researchers also included the GTVC's ability to track mobile assets with GPS in order to:

· manage warehouse resources;

· display real-time resource availability;

· aggregate multiple resources in the same location with a single icon;

· show location coordinates in multiple formats, such as latitude/longitude and a military grid reference system; and

· update a resource's status by clicking on its map icon instead of using the database interface.

Emergency Visions also added ability to label resources with transponders, so when trucks leave a factory or warehouse, supply locations can be easily tracked.

"From the standpoint of complete consequence management, the first thing you do in planning is understand your resources, whether they be human or physical - inventorying and managing is the first step," said Gray. "The second step is checking out vulnerabilities while the emergency is occurring. That's the role of the GTVC."

Chandler Harris  |  Contributing Writer