Photo: Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County, Fla./Photo courtesy of Santa Rosa County, Fla.

With oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster nearing the coast in Florida's Santa Rosa County, emergency management officials had to find a way to track it.

Since April, crews from various agencies have been flocking to the Gulf of Mexico to protect hundreds of miles of wetlands from the massive BP oil spill. But in Santa Rosa County, even after officials deployed a water beacon team, they didn't have the tools to track the flow of oil, said Sheryl Bracewell, the county's emergency management director.

"When we started receiving impacts from the oil, we decided to establish a water beacon team to go out and make sure the oil wasn't reaching any of our sensitive areas," she said. "When they went out, they could say what they saw, but there was a chance it would move by the time someone got there to clean it up."

The emergency management division asked for help to find a better tracking solution and they discovered location-based mobile work force management software from Mountain View, Calif.-based Xora. The Xora app, local officials said, would help emergency teams capture data onsite and speed up response activities as crews worked to stem the oil from drifting into local waterways and estuaries.

With the Xora app, running on Sprint HTC EVO smartphones, the reconnaissance team can take pictures of product they find and fill out a form with details about the spill. The app automatically captures the oil's GPS coordinates. Via the app, they can submit the photo, form and real-time location data to the county, and the emergency operations center can decide how to respond and dispatch appropriate equipment.

View Full Story
Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer