Oracle used for Superfund GIS

A commercial off-the-shelf database and geographic information system from Oracle will help Environmental Protection Agency officials warn people about spills and leaks.

Officials at the EPA's Region 5 Superfund Division Field Environmental Decision Support announced today that they chose Oracle Database 10g and 10g Spatial software for a geospatial database for first responders. Users of the EPA system can get data such as aerial maps and the latest terrain information not only on office computers, but also laptop computers in the field.

Superfund division officials investigate and clean up hazardous waste sites. Chicago-based Region 5 covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Region 5's emergency response team could use the EPA's geospatial system to quickly pinpoint bioterrorist attacks, radiation leaks and other environmental emergencies, for example.

"The first few minutes of an emergency are the most crucial, and we cannot afford to waste time fumbling for constantly changing geographic information and struggling to reconstruct outdated area maps," said Larry Callant, EPA Region 5 research associate.

The geographic information database can be accessed via a USB plug-in.

The "EPA plugs it into a laptop, it activates the database and there you go," Callant said, adding that the process is like typing on a typewriter, since it uses a standard Java interface. "Anything you'd need in a particular response comes to you. Oracle knows where to go. I put in x, y longitude and latitude, it brings out locations of hospitals, schools or whatever you want"

A chemical spill is one example of an emergency for which EPA personnel can use linked disparate information. "Instead of going out and accessing multiple systems with different applications, they're going to use one user interface," said Mark Johnson, senior vice president of Oracle's public-sector unit. "All the information in that region will be in one database."

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