Grants to bolster GIS, homeland

ESRI state and local government grant programs

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In the interest of boosting homeland security, ESRI — one of the leading companies in the geographic information system field — has set up a $2.3 million grant program to jump-start GIS initiatives in small cities and help set up crisis centers for local government agencies.

The company also will hold seminars on the use of GIS for homeland security in various cities across the country and will issue a series of white papers showing how GIS can be used as the backbone of a homeland security plan.

ESRI's GIS technology played a big part in the post-Sept. 11 recovery in New York City, said Russ Johnson, the company's public safety information manager, and also showed how cities could prepare better for emergencies by using such tools as vulnerability analyses.

The grant program, along with the seminars and white papers, are meant as a way to disperse more broadly the GIS knowledge and tools needed for homeland security.

"There are a lot of cities of 100,000 population or less that are interested in using GIS for this, but have no funds to get it started," Johnson said.

A city can earn a grant of GIS software, training and support by proposing a homeland security process that uses GIS and that ESRI considers "reasonable," Johnson said. Grants also are available to 10 local government agencies that can show they are already moving quickly to establish crisis command and control centers for first responders.

Both programs were open for applications April 1 and will close Nov. 1. Awards will be announced in two phases, on June 4 and Nov. 1.

For information on how to apply, go to www.esri.com/govgrants.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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