This is a repost from the now defunct Whatever-Weather.com.
I want to take a break from my Meteorology & LiDAR series to write about GIS and Emergency Response. If you look back in the archives, I wrote about how GIS can use points, lines, polygons, and grids to represent the world around us when we are used to seeing just radar or satellite imagery. When a tornado, flood, hurricane, or other major weather event hits a location, it is the National Weather Service’s job to forecast and nowcast the event. We know we cannot (yet?) modify the weather to any meaningful degree to affect events like this (topic of another blog post). So what we can do is use GIS and Remote Sensing to help coordinate recoveries between government agencies and non-government resources.
The State of Minnesota has a ongoing effort to try to use GIS resources between agencies to help with emergency responses. It is the Emergency Preparedness Committee that is run through the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office. They hold quarterly meetings and smaller sub-group meetings to work on standards and to share knowledge between agencies. The meetings are open to the public either in person or online. The local National Weather Service is part of this effort. They run a blog which posts very useful information about new technologies, techniques, with current events from all levels of the public and private sector. Their website is at: http://www.epcupdates.org .
One recent example that was talked about at their last meeting was the National Grid effort from FEMA. The state of Minnesota has already approved it as a state standard. The problem arises when you do not have a common projection/grid to locate events. You end up with confusion between response areas as to exactly where to go to try to mitigate the emergency event. The expectation is that national response efforts will be improved by having FEMA adopt this on a national level to help federal response, which then trickle down to other state and local agencies across the country.
In summary, by working together, major and day to day emergencies can be responded to quicker by continuing inter-agency and private sector support of emergency response groups like this.
FEMA Meeting Page:
National Grid Page from State of MN: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/committee/emprep/download/USNG/index.html
Dakota County MN page with full details on National Grid (from 2008)
(c) 2012 Charles Schoeneberger