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Homeland Security & GIS

A map is often the centerpiece for emergency services operations. What is the extent of the event? What populations and jurisdictions are affected? Where do we evacuate and shelter those affected? The list of questions goes on, and in each case the answers to these questions can be efficiently answered with spatial data.

This obvious connection between maps and emergency response, and the need for regional coordination for disaster and response mapping prompted the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee (RHSCC), to create a subcommittee dedicated to developing GIS and mapping solutions for emergency services.

The work of the GIS Subcommittee began in 2006 with a strategic plan for building regional GIS capabilities in the name of Homeland Security. The subcommittee's work has continued since that time leading to formal data sharing agreements between local governments and the installation of hardware and software for hosting and serving GIS data.

The capstone to much of this work is a secure web-based application called the Emergency Management Situational Awareness Map (EMSAM). EMSAM provides emergency service professionals the ability to share information on the ground conditions at an incident site. The application is map-centric and connects to live data such as weather warnings and radar, generates initial damage assessments for a defined area, and identifies the critical facilities and populations affected.

EMSAM

For more information about this program, please contact the GIS staff at marc_gis@marc.org or (816) 474-4240.