Geospatial preparedness checklist

In all aspects of emergency management, geospatial data and tools have the potential to contribute to saving lives, limiting damage and reducing the costs of dealing with emergencies.

A committee of the National Academies' National Research Council studied the role of geospatial data and tools in emergency management and produced a book with recommendations for improving the technology's use.

It includes a checklist that emergency management officials can use to assess their application of such tools, with this specific guidance on the most valuable types of geospatial data and real-time data collection methods.

  • Do you have electronic field data collection methods (using Global Positioning System-enabled handheld computers with wireless communication systems) available to determine the geographic extent of an incident?
  • Do you have capabilities of obtaining digital photographs of incident sites and transmitting them wirelessly to the emergency operations center?
  • Do you have agreements in place to acquire digital images via government or private-sector helicopter, etc., of event sites immediately after an event occurs?
  • Do you have agreements in place and near-live data feeds from utilities detailing the geographic extent of power outages?
  • Do you have live or near-live geospatial weather data?
  • Do you have live or near-live geospatial data on road conditions and capacities or other transportation systems?
  • Do you have any near-live data feeds from hospitals or other medical facilities detailing geospatial data on bed capacity or medication availability?
  • Do you have the capability to track the distribution of your emergency equipment or supplies geographically?
  • Do you have the ability to push out or pull in geospatial data or Web-based services across the Internet?

Source: "Planning for Catastrophe: A Blueprint for Improving Geospatial Data, Tools, and Infrastructure"

About the Author

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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