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Learn more about how the City of Chicago prepared for and successfully managed the 40th Bank of America Chicago Marathon using ArcGIS. This year's race included 45,000 runners and 1.7 million spectators.


“Chicago is a special event-driven city, and this is one of our biggest events of the year,” Thomas Sivak, deputy director of the OEMC said. “We have worked hard to establish a common operating picture to support our decision-making processes. Adding a real-time awareness of runners helps us know the size and complexity of any incident, and helps us manage the consequences.”


Read the full story at

By Philip Mielke, Esri Patterns and Practice


In the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) world, ArcGIS is known for providing the basis for mapping, geocoding, routing, and geographic lookup capabilities. Additionally, state and local governments are using ArcGIS to store and establish geographic records, communicate with stakeholders through powerful maps, and derive new insights in their data by using analysis. While developing a mature geographic information system (GIS) can take time, there are several ways that you can immediately leverage ArcGIS for meaningful tasks.


This high-level overview will guide you in using ArcGIS Online to build a field app to collect and manage common place-names for a CAD geocoding system. By sharing the responsibility of updating common place-names, your agency will be able to update them quickly and record changes and observations while in the field. A better common place-names database means getting first responders to where they need to be, without mistakes. You'll need administrative-level access to configure ArcGIS Online, publish address data, make a web map, and create Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager applications to collect common place-names.


Create a Group

Good work needs a nice, clean place to start! A group in ArcGIS Online establishes the permission and content for a working group. You'll want to create a group specifically to house the data, maps, and apps that you'll be publishing and building. Use best practices for the group that you're creating, and choose a good icon and description to establish what this group is for. Invite staff who will be responsible for the collection and quality control of common place-names data.

Publish an Existing Common Place-Names Layer

ArcGIS Pro is the desktop software that GIS professionals are migrating their data and workflows to from ArcMap. You can add data from the geodatabase to update and manage addresses in ArcMap, and adjust symbology to reflect what you expect to see in the applications. Once you're happy with their look and feel, share data as web layers, via your ArcGIS Online organizational account, with the group you previously created. Depending on your agency, this means publishing addresses (your operational layer—where the work happens) and agency boundaries (your reference layer—where context resides).

Author a Web Map

A web map is where previously published web layers come together and behave according to the way that you configure a few simple parameters. This web map will be where the Crowdsource Reporter and Crowdsource Manager applications connect to for data, symbology, and some web mapping behavior like labeling and scale levels.


Add your recently published layers to the web map and adjust each layer to reflect the style and symbology that you want your users to see. Configure pop-ups to hide unnecessary fields, and establish clean aliases for your fields to make pop-ups more legible. Create labels to better contextualize your jurisdictional boundaries within the web application. Save the web map and share it with your working group.

Configure Crowdsource Reporter

Crowdsource Reporter is a configurable application template that allows users to submit problems or observations. We'll use this configurable application to collect crowdsourced common place-names from staff you grant access to. The application has been optimized for smartphones but is designed to be used on tablets and desktop computers as well.


From the Group view, you'll see the layers and web map that you've recently published and configured. On the right, you'll click Share to create a web app. Select Crowdsource Reporter.

You'll be able to configure the Crowdsource Reporter application and publish this for your working group by clicking Create a Web App. You won't need to deviate from the defaults to make a simple configuration of Crowdsource Reporter to collect common place-names in the field or at a desk.

Configure Crowdsource Manager

Crowdsource Manager—a companion configurable application template to data collection apps such as Crowdsource Reporter—allows users within an organization to review problems or observations submitted through the Crowdsource Reporter application. The application can be used on tablets and desktop computers.


You'll work through the same dialog box to create, configure, and share Crowdsource Manager. From the Group view, you'll see the layers and web map that you've recently published and configured. On the right, you'll click Share to create a web app. Select Crowdsource Manager.


Configure Crowdsource Manager to use it as a desktop quality control application. Users will be able to review recent additions for completeness and correctness.

Exporting Data for Updating the CAD System

At any regular interval, it's easy to export the data being recorded by Crowdsource Reporter and checked for quality by Crowdsource Manager. By going directly to the web layer you published in the group, you can export a shapefile or file geodatabase of the common place-names feature that your staff has been maintaining. Once you've downloaded it locally, you can import it into your CAD system through your usual methods.

If you have any questions on the above procedures discussed in this blog, please contact our Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Manager, Mike King, at

By Mike King, Industry Manager, CAD/Law Enforcement, Esri


Hundreds of technology and government professionals gathered at the APCO Public Safety Broadband Summit in Washington, DC, in May 2017. A great deal of attention was focused on the keynote address by FirstNet CEO Michael Poth, and the audience showed much interest in the organization's preparations for nationwide broadband deployment.


Following Poth, Mark Golaszewski, FirstNet director of applications, revealed a number of goals for application development including a strategy to have apps that enable users in public safety to adopt and leverage the technologies of the commercial marketplace, a vision to propagate innovation, and an ecosystem that allows FirstNet and the commercial community to offer the best available tools and technologies available.


Golaszewski declared that these "high-priority" applications needed to include GIS mapping and the ability to visualize large volumes of data with the Internet of Things (IoT). The apps should be able to synthesize actionable information in operational viewers and include information such as computer-aided dispatch (CAD) data, vehicle locations, and other sensor data in a connected or unconnected, secure environment.


Esri had an opportunity to offer our GIS strategy for Next Generation 911 (NG911) immediately following the FirstNet presentation, and we took advantage of the timing to show how we are answering the FirstNet challenge with out-of-the-box web applications, tools, and templates. Since most government agencies are using Esri for their geospatial responsibilities, taking advantage of these free tools (for license holders) makes good fiscal sense, and those in attendance were counseled to speak with their jurisdictional GIS staff to see what licensing was available already.


The remainder of this blog will focus on a few of those FirstNet challenges, with examples of how Esri's web applications are answering the call, sometimes in a matter of hours.


Situational Awareness—Esri's out-of-the-box templates provide powerful ways to visualize data from a host of services: agencies' own internal data services, enterprise GIS, demographics, other sensor data feeds, and information in formats as simple as spreadsheets stored on a computer's desktop.



This example—calls for service from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department—was built in a day using Esri's Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS (a free template for license holders.) The dashboard shows a number of important things. In the upper left corner, we see Waze data being visualized on 1 of 12 maps that include street data, aerial imagery, and topography. Across the top is the current CAD queue, and in the middle of the left side, we see current CAD calls for service. Customizable metrics are displayed across the bottom of the screen, with video from 1 of 939 cameras appearing in the lower right corner. Above the closed circuit television (CCTV) image, in the center, is the Citizen Tips section, and above that is a report of all road closures in the city.


Operational dashboards like this are available to download for free and configure if you are an Esri license holder and can consume data hosted on-premises, in the cloud, on a desktop, or through a hybrid approach.


Portable Reporting with Credentialing—Esri provides tools for agencies to easily develop web applications for use in the field on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. These mobile apps enable data collection and allow greater collaboration among agencies, leading to increased understanding. The example below shows how one agency used ArcGIS out of the box to develop a tool for intelligence gathering in a serial killer investigation.



Information Synthesis—Analyzing large volumes of data is difficult. As we embrace the challenge to visualize and analyze larger datasets, including sensor data found through the IoT, the need for tools and technologies that handle big data becomes more critical. Insights for ArcGIS makes the exploration, analysis, and iteration of such data easier than ever with its drag-and-drop capabilities, the infusion of demographic data, and guided workflows. Now big data doesn't seem so big. This example shows billions of financial records being analyzed. At Esri, we say, "Rather than look for a needle in a haystack, simply burn down the haystack, pick up the needle, and move on to the next question."


Analyzing and Interpreting Sensor Data—As the IoT continues to bloom, more data is becoming available each day. By using an enterprise GIS, public safety professionals can begin to examine and understand how one type of data interacts with or influences another. This example shows Waze data in Budapest, Hungary, and examines the reliability of Waze against other public media surrounding major events.



Embracing NG911 Data—As more information becomes available through NG911, public safety professionals will need the ability to consume and analyze the data, sometimes on the fly. Enterprise GIS enables users to do just that, and challenges like 3D and indoor routing are surmountable now.


Esri is pleased to support the first responders who will rely on FirstNet, and we will continue to invest in research and development to assist the first responder community. For more information on the tools and templates available through Esri, visit and

After a watching the successful impact HIFLD for Harvey had on the response and recovery efforts for that disaster – supporting 6,000+ unique users – DHS has decided to launch a similar site to support the impending relief efforts for Hurricane Irma.  This decision was the result of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) working with the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Level Data (HIFLD) Committee Chair and Federal GeoPlatform system owner, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Geospatial Management Office to create this new Open Data website.  This new site is publicly accessible and based on the Esri ArcGIS Open Data application:



HIFLD for Irma – a sister Open Data site to HIFLD Open – is dedicated to unifying the response and recovery data aggregation efforts for Hurricane Irma.  HIFLD for Irma, creates a single authoritative source of relevant data for use by local, state, Federal, tribal, private sector, and community partners. It serves as a hub to aggregate and disseminate the best available relevant open data to support the massive mapping activities that are ongoing in support for Hurricane Irma response and recovery. New data and information will be added as it becomes available and is rapidly validated.


This site was created and is being supported by Esri Federal Small Business Specialty program partner ArdentMC.


If your organization has data to contribute, please send an email to Start using HIFLD for Irma today!  #HIFLD4Irma


Image result for hifld data

As organizations transition from disaster response to recovery, moving from the office to the field for data collection is critical.  During recovery, communities will begin conducting formal damage assessments, assessing debris management needs, inspecting infrastructure and assets, and collecting general surveys of needs moving forward. Each of these efforts are ideal use cases for mobile GIS, and at Esri we want to provide you with a quick and easy way to get your field crews up and running today. There are two options for you to consider:


Option 1: Rapid Deployment Solution – the easy button!

The first, and possibly the quickest way to get started is to take advantage of Esri’s rapidly deployable solution.  Within a matter of minutes Esri can deploy a solution directly to you that is based on ArcGIS Online. This provides you with named users and ready-to-use apps for damage assessment, debris management, and general field surveys. You do not have to configure a thing. Esri will set usernames and passwords (based on the number of users you need), configure all apps, and then turn over the solution to you to get started collecting data. With this rapid deployment solution, you will get access to mobile apps including Collector for ArcGIS, Survey123 for ArcGIS and Explorer for ArcGIS. We’ll work together to get you up and running in no time.


For those facing a disaster, you can request this solution through the Esri Disaster Response Program (DRP). To get started collecting field data quickly, submit a request for technical support here t the DRP:  Simply add ‘interested in Esri’s Field Collection system’ in the notes and our team will contact you with to start deploying the solution.


Option 2: Self Deployment using your own ArcGIS Organization

There are two methods to get started adding users and configuring your own ArcGIS Online org.  Both are very similar and are based on if you have email addresses of the users ahead of time and how your users will access the application for the first time.  

   In our first scenario, the Administrator sets up users without an initial notification to their email address.  Field Users are manually given their Username and Password, they log into the mobile application, and the mobile application asks them to reset their Password.  The Field User is then set to go out and collect data.  This is the best option if you don't have the email addresses of your Field Users before setting up.  

   In our second scenario, the Administrator triggers ArcGIS Online or Enterprise to email Field Users with a link that Field Users will use to change their Password and fill out their security question.  The security question enables Field Users to more easily reset their Password w/o the need for admin intervention. 


Self Deployment Method: Add members without sending invitations

Directions for the Administrator

If you don't have the email addresses of your Field Users, the quickest way to get your field users collecting data in the field securely is to invite them without sending an email. Keep in mind, Field Users will be unable to request a Password reset from ArcGIS Online/Enterprise (after the initial Password reset) automatically without administrator involvement. 


1.   Establish your Group(s) and information products

When setting up a large group of users for field collection, it's important to first set up the environment that they'll be invited to collaborate in. It's best to share relevant web maps with editable features and/or Survey123 Forms (damage assessment, field assets, etc) to the ArcGIS Online/Enterprise Group when they are ready for the field.  You are able to add new configurations for collection after members have been invited to the group, but it's best to have some of the priority information products in the group before inviting new members.   


2. Invite Members

With Administrator privileges, the "Organization" tab at the top will give you the dialog to "Invite Members."


3.  Add members without sending invitation

While there are many options for inviting new users, this workflow grants user permissions without sending an email. This saves a few steps for the field users so they won't need to verify and accept their invitation.  If you've enabled enterprise logins in your ArcGIS Online/Enterprise Organization, you'll have an additional option in this list.

4. Enter Users "One at a time" or "From a File"

A great new capability that saves time for the administrator is to add users in a bulk upload of a CSV file that contain Email, First Name, Last Name, Username, Password, Level and Role.  Field Users will be required to reset their Password at first login, so pick something easy to remember and communicate.  Your Field Users will need a Level 2  license in order to edit data in the field, and the default role should be set as User.  If you have Custom Roles established, ensure that they are Level 2 and have edit privileges enabled.  


The CSV will look like this: 


The Field User will reset their Password as soon as they log in, so it's best to use simple and easily-communicated Passwords.  

5. Specify Groups and Add Members

Specify groups that contain the web maps and features for field collection to ensure that field users will have web maps to open and begin their work as soon as they can.  

6. Give your Field Users their Username and Password

Distribute Usernames and Passwords to your Field Users however you choose.  


Directions for the Field User


1. Download the App

Survey123, Collector, Explorer and Workforce are all available on Apple and Android app stores and are free to download.  Download the application on your mobile device.  


2. Sign in on a Mobile App

Using the username and Password that were given to you by your Administrator, sign in to your mobile application (Survey123, Collector or Explorer) and sign in for the first time. 


3. Reset your Password

You'll be asked to reset your Password at your first login.  Remember this Password, as you would need to contact the Administrator for a Password reset. 


4. Begin using your Field App

Quick Reference Instructions for: 






Self Deployment Method: Add Member and Notify them via email


Directions for the Administrator 

This is a quick way to set up Field Users that have email registered on their devices.  The process for the Field User's first login will be slightly longer, but they will be able to request their Username or Password reset if either are forgotten later. 


1.   Establish your Group(s) and information products

When setting up a large group of users for field collection, it's important to first set up the environment that they'll be invited to collaborate in.  It's best to share relevant web maps with editable features and/or Survey123 Forms (damage assessment, field assets, etc) to the ArcGIS Online/Enterprise Group when they are ready for the field.  You are able to add new configurations for collection after members have been invited to the group, but it's best to have some of the priority information products in the group before inviting new members.  

2. Invite Members

With Administrator privileges, the "Organization" tab at the top will give you the dialog to "Invite Members."


3.  Add members and notify them via email

This workflow grants user permissions and verifies user identity via email.  If you've enabled enterprise logins in your ArcGIS Online/Enterprise Organization, you'll have an additional option in this list.

4. Enter Users "One at a time" or "From a File"

A great new capability that saves time for the administrator is to add users in a bulk upload of a CSV file that contain Email, First Name, Last Name, Username, Level and Role.  Field Users will be required to reset their Password at first login, so pick something easy to remember and communicate.  Your Field Users will need a Level 2 User or Publisher Role in order to edit data in the field.  If you have Custom Roles established, ensure that they are Level 2 and have edit privileges.  


The CSV will look like this: 


The Field User will reset their Password and set security questions as soon as they verify their identity by clicking the link that ArcGIS emails them.  

5. Specify Groups and Send Invitation

Specify groups that contain the web maps and features for field collection to ensure that field users will have web maps to open and begin their work as soon as they can. 



When you click "Send Invitation", the Field Users will be emailed a link that will activate the Username, Request a Password Change and set a Security Question.  Field Users will be unable to log in with their mobile devices without completing this step.  


Directions for the Field User


1. Download the App

Survey123, Collector, Explorer and Workforce are all available on Apple and Android app stores and are free to download.  Download the application on your mobile device.  


2. Click Link emailed to you from "ArcGIS Notifications" (



3. Set your Password and Security Question

The link will take you to a browser to enter your Password and set a security question.  Enter this information and click 'Sign in'.  You'll be directed to your profile information, but you are not required to edit information.


4. Open the Field App and log in

Exit your email and open the field app that you've been directed to use.  Enter your username and Password.


5. Begin using your Field App

Quick Reference Instructions for: 





After a disaster event, one of the longest running operations is removal and disposal of debris. Between damaged and destroyed structures and built up vegetation and dirt, the work to clean up an area affected turns into a community effort. Citizens affected will have observations that may help recovery teams target efforts and the recovery teams need to track the location, status, and disposition of debris throughout the process. 


We previously posted about a community engagement solution you can use to solicit input from affected citizens about remaining debris, damage, and other information happening in their neighborhood.  You can find that here: How To: Engage citizens to report community observations


To support recovery team efforts, ArcGIS for Emergency Management includes a solution for Debris Reporting and monitoring.  This solution includes:

  • an information model for identifying the location of debris in the field using Collector for ArcGIS and monitoring it as it moves through the disposal process
  • an Operations Dashboard configuration that enables response and recovery stakeholders to monitor the total volume of debris being processed and the overall progress of the clean up


Debris Reports Monitoring

View an example operational view for monitoring debris identification and removal operations. 


Get Started


To set up the Debris Reporting solution, you'll need three ingredients:

  1. a Hosted Feature Layer based on the Debris Reports template service (or ArcGIS Server Feature Service),
  2. a Web Map containing your Debris Reports layer, and 
  3. an Operations Dashboard view configured to monitor debris removal


Sample data, an ArcMap document you can use to publish the Debris Reports layer to your ArcGIS Server, an step by step instructions for configuring these elements for your organization have been documented on the ArcGIS for Emergency Management Debris Reporting solution site. 


Quick Start Option


The Debris Reporting solution (and many more) can be quickly deployed to your ArcGIS Online Organization or Portal for ArcGIS using the ArcGIS Solutions Deployment Tool.  Here is a short, two minute video on using the Deployment Tool to create the hosted feature layer, a web map for use in Collector for ArcGIS, and the Operations Dashboard view with nearly one click.



Bonus Content


  • We have shared a service template for Disposal Locations and Emergency Facilities. You can use these templates to create new hosted feature layers in your organization, then populate the layers with the locations to be used for staging, transfer, and disposal of debris. 
  • Attached to this post is a template Survey 123 for ArcGIS form which can be used in your field operations.  
    • You may receive validation warnings with the choices in this form, you can safely click OK on these.
    • Update the submission_url setting to point this form to your existing Debris Reports hosted feature layer.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and working with the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Level Data (HIFLD) Committee Chair and Federal GeoPlatform system owner, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a dedicated website to provide Open Data in support of Hurricane Harvey.  This new site is publicly accessible and based on the Esri ArcGIS Open Data application:


HIFLD for Harvey – a sister Open Data site to HIFLD Open ( – is dedicated to unifying the response and recovery data aggregation efforts for Hurricane Harvey.  HIFLD for Harvey, creates a single reliable source of relevant data for use by local, state, Federal, tribal, private sector, and community partners. It serves as a hub to aggregate and disseminate the best available relevant open data to support the massive mapping activities that are ongoing in support for Hurricane Harvey response and recovery. 

This site is being actively managed by Esri business partner Ardent MC. New data and information is being added as it becomes available and is rapidly validated.

If your organization has data to contribute, please send an email to Start using HIFLD for Harvey Today!  #HIFLD4Harvey

Image result for hifld data

The impacts of Hurricane Harvey are being felt far and wide. As the rain continues to fall, and flood waters rise, an army of citizen-rescuers are answering the call. They are bringing their boats to bear and are plunging into waist-deep waters to help those in their communities. While it’s not possible for all of us to lend a helping hand directly, those that know GIS can lend a hand from afar.


The need for expertise on the many “where” questions of a disaster continue to grow, answering such questions as

  • Where are the one-story homes that are about to be immersed?
  • Where are dry beds and shelters for those that are displaced?
  • What are the quickest and safest routes to evacuate the most people in the shortest amount of time?


As the government encourages citizens to help one another, the non-profit organization made up of mapping experts is answering the call. GISCorps, a program of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), has been providing a range of mapping and disaster response services for more than 14 years worldwide.


GISCorps volunteers conduct most of their work remotely and nearly half of their work responding to disasters. These volunteers harness the power of the cloud-based ArcGIS Online platform for such tasks as data collection, data cleansing, and creating story maps and map galleries to communicate needs and impacts.


“GISCorps volunteers have been involved in almost every disaster since 2003,” says Shoreh Elhami, the founder of URISA’s GISCorps. “We have worked on Hurricane Katrina, the Asian tsunami, the cyclone in Burma, the Ebola epidemic, and many more.”


Volunteers gain the satisfaction of helping those in need, and there are many ancillary benefits.


“Many of our volunteers have said they learn more quickly from GISCorps experiences than from their day jobs,” said Elhami. “They get exposed to different projects that require different skills and tools, and that provides a valuable learning experience.”


GISCorps uses ArcGIS Online to spread the work among volunteers and to create a communication platform to share updates on unfolding events.


“Thanks to the backing from the Esri Disaster Response Program, we have a backend that supports the work of our volunteers,” said Elhami. “We can ingest and process imagery, and to digitize points of interest in a way that’s much easier than in the past. I’m really excited about putting our 5,000 volunteers to work doing a lot more.”


Applying to become a GISCorps volunteer can be done only online.






Hurricane Harvey, at one point a category 4 hurricane, has brought devastating amounts of rainfall with extensive damages to Texas and Louisiana. As Harvey continues its catastrophic path, Esri’s Disaster Response Program (DRP) is here to support you around the clock 24/7.


If you need support with additional software, data, or technical support you can request immediate assistance from the DRP.


The Hurricanes and Tropical Cyclones Overview map provides up to date information on the potential impact, precipitation, and path of Harvey.



Emergency management agencies are also using social media and crowd sourcing to gain insight on the situation. This Crowdsource Story Map helps responders and emergency managers gain insight into the situation on the ground.



The Tropical Strom Harvey: Current Conditions Application

This interactive web application features Hurricane Harvey tracking, traffic alerts, road closures, shelter locations, flood gauges and more.


Track and forecast the path of Harvey:


Stay up to date with traffic alerts and closures:


Locate a shelter location nearest you:

Analyze the current situation of flood gauges:


Analyze 72-hour precipitation forecast:


Follow the DRP on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.

By Chris McIntosh, Director, National Government Industries, Esri; and Bob Greenberg, CEO, G&H International Services, Inc.


Imagine a small town that has just suffered a significant natural disaster. It is almost always the case that the town will need to reach out to other jurisdictions to get help in the form of people and resources to respond effectively to the incident. To prepare for this common scenario, emergency managers need to develop a response strategy that identifies the resources they need and reveals where they will face shortfalls. Many emergency managers today use the Threat Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA) process to do just that, but when they do, the result is often a paper report in a binder or a static digital document that they have to dig out during an emergency.


Many of those same emergency managers also have access to an ArcGIS mapping platform that enables them to obtain rapid situational awareness of what is occurring during an incident—in near real time. Configured to provide essential elements of information (EEI), the system helps them understand things like the location of power outages, road status, and shelter status—all of which are very useful for identifying necessary resources and deploying them (see the National Information Sharing Consortium's [NISC] guidance on EEI's.


Situational awareness is very important in emergency management. It allows personnel to quickly visualize and understand the impact of an incident, identify trends, and predict outcomes. This leads to more accurate assessments and saves time—the most precious of all resources.


Connecting this insight to the actual deployment of resources is where the Threat Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process tends to stall. Even armed with the most modern situational awareness tools, logistics personnel often have to revert to the paper plan to identify and find the resources they need—a process that is very time-consuming—as they go back and forth between their map, their planning documents, and other systems. They lose precious minutes and hours in identifying the resources; finding the right contact; contacting the resource provider; determining availability; and, ultimately, deploying the resource.


What if they had all that information, available in real time, on one platform? It would allow them to instantaneously identify an incident, understand the situation, and find and deploy the appropriate resources. The key to doing that is the ability to operationalize a resource plan by integrating it with their situational awareness system. Esri's ArcGIS platform provides that ability.


The Mutual Aid Resource Planner (MARP) tool, developed by Esri partner G&H International Services on behalf of the First Responders Group (FRG) of the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, enables planners to develop more accurate plans by integrating additional geospatial hazard and risk information. They can also preidentify partners that will help provide aid and fill resource gaps. These capabilities, integrated with the ArcGIS platform—which provides emergency responders across jurisdictions with a visualization of the existing and emerging situation in real time—allow them to collaborate on identifying resources and assigning responsibilities.


Requirements for the MARP application were initially developed during the CAPSTONE-14 exercise conducted by the Central US Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), where emergency planners and managers from eight states identified the need to extend the planning concept outlined by the THIRA process. What became clear during the exercise was the importance of both operationalizing the THIRA process and preidentifying the required resources in order to track their availability during an event.


With Esri's support, G&H provided technical assistance to the CUSEC states during the CAPSTONE-14 exercise and began working with Esri's ArcGIS platform to configure its templates and applications to provide those capabilities. MARP is empowered by the ArcGIS platform, which provides access to data from multiple sources across various disciplines and jurisdictions to help emergency managers make fast and well-informed decisions regarding resources.


MARP has been tested through several experiments by multiple levels of government agencies. This past January, the MARP capabilities were tested as part of the first experiment under the FRG's Flood Apex program in New Orleans. It was also used by Michigan and Ontario, Canada, to develop cross-border mutual aid plans during the CAUSE (Canada-U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment) IV Experiment in April 2016.


MARP allows agencies to develop a more efficient plan for dealing with the aftermath of catastrophic events. It provides a simple yet innovative template that makes it easy to collaborate and share data among different jurisdictions. Building a better plan will help to strengthen a community's preparedness and resiliency. MARP is available to members of NISC, an Esri-supported organization dedicated to improving information sharing for better emergency preparedness. Membership is free. For MARP training, visit


For further information, visit

Counter Drug—Managing the Opioid Epidemic—Part Two of an Eight-Part Safe Communities Blog Series

By Carl Walter, National Security and Fusion Center Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Recent global events have shed light on the complex, interrelated worlds of public safety and national security. Civil unrest, crime, natural disasters, and widespread public health threats all reflect the heightened need for coordinated prevention activities and effective response capabilities. Geospatial technology is uniquely positioned as the technical platform to spearhead this coordination—including when the threat is a public health crisis like the ongoing opioid epidemic.


The opioid crisis is happening in every community and affecting every demographic. The hallmark of a safe community is having organizations use geographic information system (GIS) technology as a foundation for multiagency, multijurisdictional collaboration. Geography plays a role in managing any community emergency. While the opioid epidemic presents unique challenges, GIS technology enables governments to understand the who, where, when, and why in real time, potentially saving the lives of countless Americans.


Counterdrug agencies have a common goal of disrupting the market for illegal drugs by arresting and dismantling those involved in drug trafficking and related money laundering activities. Recently, drug overdose has become the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. Opioid abuse is a major contributor to this epidemic and now requires governments to rethink their drug enforcement strategies—making sure they better align with public health strategies—to save lives. What's more troubling is that, in the face of this public health crisis, prescriptions for opioids have reached an all-time high.


Creating tools in the field that enable real-time mapping of overdose incidents while protecting sensitive personal identifiers is a strategy worth exploring. These tools must allow first responders in the field a simple way to identify the location of an overdose, input basic information about the event, and submit that data in real time to an enterprise geographic information system. Once received, data can be leveraged using dashboards, Esri Story Maps apps, and other Web GIS tools so trends can be identified and information can be shared with decision-makers, relevant stakeholders, and even the public. A geocentric approach to managing this data in real time will allow officials to make lifesaving decisions with the goal of preventing further overdose cases.


The Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, the Department of Homeland Security Geospatial Management Office (GMO), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are utilizing GIS to coordinate their drug-fighting and information sharing efforts. The integration of local law enforcement, health agencies, and communities allows them to improve their response to opioid overdoses by proactively identifying and monitoring indicators and warnings and sharing authoritative data in near real time (see,


Discover how GIS can help your community battle the opioid epidemic. Join us for our upcoming webinar on June 21 to explore the strategy of creating tools in the field to enable real-time mapping of overdose incidents while protecting sensitive personal identifiers.

Wednesday, June 21 | 9:00 a.m.–10:00 a.m. (PDT)

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By Mike King, Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew bore down on the southeastern USA. State and local communities suffered billions of dollars in damage and loss in the storm that prompted the President of the United States, Attorney General and many others to travel to the region to offer physical and moral support.


For several weeks, the city of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and communities nearby endured hurricane-influenced challenges that closed a large portion of Interstate 95 and caused massive flooding, requiring more than 80 water rescues in Fayetteville alone. The demand for help was so great that diving and water-rescue personnel from New York (who happened to be attending training in the region) were authorized to assist in the rescue efforts.


To effectively coordinate these rescue efforts and provide overall operational understanding, the City of Fayetteville relied on the Bradshaw Consulting Services PSAP Monitor solution, an informational geographic information system (GIS) mapping dashboard with visualization and analytic capabilities powered by the ArcGIS platform.



By providing agency-wide access to PSAP Monitor, including access to noncity departments providing support through mutual aid, field officers coordinated and communicated effectively with the command center. Flood zones, evacuation areas, roadblocks, and asset locations were disseminated to first responders via intelligent, interactive, and collaborative maps in mobile units and on iOS, Android, and Windows devices.


Chris Harvey, PSAP Monitor product manager, stated, “Fayetteville call centers and incident commanders quickly shared citizen requests for assistance by incorporating interactive maps with the calls coming into the communications center. These maps, along with PSAP Monitor's intrinsic analytic capabilities, were shared with first responders in real time.”


Fayetteville officers were able to share the real-time information with secret service and other VIP protection personnel who were responsible for the safety of President Barack Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Vice President hopeful Mike Pence and others through secure, web-based links to PSAP Monitor. This information was used to track motorcades and establish security perimeters as needed.


Esri congratulates the City of Fayetteville and our partner, Bradshaw Consulting Services, for creating a collaborative, intelligent way for first responders to more effectively serve the community during a crisis.


For more information, go to or email the author at • Visit Esri at

By Carl Walter, National Security Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


All security issues have one thing in common—location.


Global events routinely shed light on the complex, interrelated worlds of safety and security. Civil unrest, crime, natural disasters, and widespread public health threats all reflect the heightened need for coordinated prevention activities and response capabilities. Intelligence fusion centers are uniquely positioned to spearhead this coordination.


Fusion centers have been a growing practice since 9/11. They are embedded in most local, state, federal, military, and corporate organizations worldwide. These centers are tasked with collecting, analyzing, and sharing crime, disaster, and threat-related information throughout all levels of government and with the private sector and the public. Fusion centers also provide support during critical incidents and planned, high-risk special events.


To support many missions, fusion center technical solutions must be able to fuse foundational, incident, dynamic, and intelligence data. Integrating data from multiple data sources and multiple agencies with advanced maps and spatial analysis can only be accomplished through the effective use of geographic information system (GIS) technology.


Esri's new Safe Communities initiative is focused on helping organizations rapidly set up GIS for shared situational awareness. This initiative supports fusion center efforts to use GIS as a foundation for preventing crime and protecting lives, property, and critical infrastructure.


This is the first blog of an eight-part series. These blogs will outline an expanded approach to using GIS for information fusion, operations, and analysis that supports safe communities. This process-based approach goes beyond using GIS to support common operating pictures (COPs) for visualization and moves toward leveraging GIS as a system of insight that supports the entire intelligence life cycle. Geospatial frameworks enable interconnectivity between people, processes, and data. With this approach, agencies with a national security mission can

  • Collect and integrate information for rapid analysis to identify threat patterns, trends, and relationships.
  • Create repeatable and shareable information and models.
  • Reuse information and services across systems and jurisdictions.
  • Improve risk, threat, and vulnerability assessments to safeguard communities and critical infrastructure.
  • Facilitate better emergency planning, response, mitigation, and recovery efforts.
  • Provide enhanced dissemination and knowledge capture.
  • Evolve the common operational picture to a common operational platform.


GIS is a complete system that goes beyond powerful visualizations. It provides the ability to organize information, as well as analyze and understand trends and protection priorities in new ways. GIS also supports streamlined data dissemination. It is an effective tool for both internal and external communication.


Integrating and geotagging structured and unstructured data, including sensor, imagery, and video data, empowers users to fully analyze and exploit that information and create actionable information out of raw data. One GIS platform supports a fusion center's many missions.


Perhaps most importantly, GIS provides a common language and reference system for multiple disciplines—including law enforcement, emergency management, intelligence, public health, and defense. It empowers stakeholders to collaborate and make data-driven decisions.


Join us for our subsequent blogs as we tackle a series of questions and community challenges that stand in the way of realizing safer communities.


By John Beck, Law Enforcement Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Drug overdose deaths in the United States continue to mount—having tripled since 1999. There were 33,091 opioid-related deaths in 2015; that's 90 Americans every day.1 The data shows that there are multiple causes for the statistics' jump. In 2012, medical care providers wrote 250 million opioid prescriptions, more than enough to give a bottle of pills to every American.2 Four out of five heroin addicts were introduced to opioids through prescription painkillers.3 Compounding the problem is the fact that today's street heroin is increasingly being cut with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug that is from 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.4


Those who have lost loved ones can post memories and a photo of friends or family members to this online interactive map and database.


This epidemic is showing no signs of slowing, and it is taking a terrible toll on American families. But beyond the personal toll, the burden this crisis is putting on our communities is immense. First responders and health care providers are overwhelmed. Federal, state, and local agencies are searching for ways to get ahead of the crisis, but it's a complicated problem. Having multiple stakeholders means that interagency cooperation is paramount to achieving meaningful results, and probably the single best path lies in data analysis and data sharing. By gaining an understanding of the data, local agencies can start to own the problem and take meaningful action to save lives and reduce the impact on our communities.


Just as our first responders and health care providers are on the front line of the epidemic, they may also be best positioned to drive change. Not only are they the first to assist at the scene of a possible overdose, they also encounter drug users in the community and at medical facilities on a daily basis. Police will have drug incident, crime, and arrest reports and data from field interviews. Police will also have firsthand knowledge about the locations of illegal drug markets and where associated crime is happening in the community. Health and human services will have valuable data that can help community stakeholders understand the problem. Key data can include information about the number of prescriptions; where they are written; and when, how many, and where overdoses occur.


Finally, it is important to know where appropriate community resources (treatment facilities, naloxone dispensaries, prescription drop-off locations, etc.) are located. The operative term in these datasets is where. Any analysis of opioid data is going to be made more effective by looking at location and the spatial relationships of the various datasets. For example, a spike in the number of overdoses might seem unrelated until the data is visualized spatially to reveal clusters of drug activity. Field collection of this type of data can even become an early warning system for a possible outbreak of overdoses (related to a bad batch of street heroin or the often deadly counterfeit-prescription pills containing fentanyl). In turn, developing field intelligence can drive decision-making and resource allocation (such as assigning extra personnel, boosting naloxone stores, and improving the distribution of other treatment services).


This map shows locations of drug overdose deaths in Broward County, Florida in 2016.


But once the data has been gathered and analyzed, what are the next steps? Change can't happen without the involvement of other community stakeholders, starting with elected officials and including local businesses, community activists, and organizations. Through community engagement, strategic opioid abuse prevention initiatives are obtainable. Esri has identified four key areas where a good location-based strategy can help stakeholders achieve results: improving education, providing access to treatment, ensuring effective response, and supporting successful prevention. Here's how to get started.



Community awareness is the foundation of any opioid abuse prevention strategy. The first question might be, does your community even recognize that there is a problem? Improve awareness by sharing data about the problem, including overdose mortality data, local spatial and demographic trends, and reports on how your community compares to national trends. Give context to your data by sharing information via story maps that educate and inform the public. Finally, engage your citizens as strategic partners by promoting interactive online and mobile tip-reporting apps that encourage crowdsourced problem solving.



Prompt care for overdose victims and access to treatment facilities can save lives. Collecting data about health care resources and combining it with a good analysis of overdose trends and locations can help communities prioritize and plan for new treatment facility locations. Use spatial analysis to determine where the greatest need is, which communities may be underserved, and where opioid problems are likely to occur in the future. Dig even deeper by doing a road network and treatment facility analysis and comparing these to hot spots of overdoses to gain a complete picture. Use dashboards to monitor overdose activity and hospital bed availability and manage treatment resources.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provides tools for mapping opioid prescribing rates.



Good data analysis can lead to improved response from police and other first responders by helping them prioritize where to conduct law enforcement activities. Data analysis can also be used to generate crucial intelligence surrounding hot spots of overdoses and other types of drug activity. By looking at historic and current data spatially, predictions can be made about when and where the next breakout may occur. Data and analysis can be pushed out to mobile apps that will show personnel what activity is occurring nearby and enable them to collect field data that can then be shared with the operations center in real time. By adding proximity information about resources and the closest treatment facilities, workers will have better access to the tools they need to do their jobs.


This Operation Medicine Cabinet map helps share information about prescription drug drop-off locations in Oakland County, Michigan.



The final piece of any successful opioid abuse prevention strategy is the reduction of opiate availability in the community. Again, this starts by generating awareness in the community and among stakeholders as to the dangers of prescription painkillers and targeting illegal drug markets that are trafficking in opioids and heroin. A good start is to get unused pain medications out of medicine cabinets and safely disposed of. Prescription drop-off programs can help, but they need to be easy to use and readily available. Maps and analysis can help provide optimal locations for prescription drop boxes. Overprescribed opioids and long-term use for chronic pain management can lead to abuse and addiction. Raising providers' awareness about their role in reducing overdose-related deaths is also important. Providing data and analysis about the issue in the community can help health professionals better understand the enormity of the problem. Finally, this data can help disrupt illegal drug markets by providing law enforcement with key locational intelligence before the drugs hit the streets. Spatial analysis can also be a valuable tool to help police understand criminal networks and the relationship between drugs and crime. Real-time predictive analytics and field mobility apps can help officers plan, coordinate, and respond quickly to developing intelligence about illegal activity.


Getting Started

Incorporating spatial analysis into your overall opioid abuse prevention strategy begins with the data. Collecting and integrating data from multiple stakeholders will take some cooperation. The need for good partnerships and information-sharing practices becomes even greater when trying to extract crucial opioid-related information from many disparate systems. When done right, the resultant data and analysis can reap immediate benefits. But agencies also need to be aware of the privacy implications of sharing opioid data. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) protects personal information and biometric and property data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) protects all personal and health-related information about patients. Privacy protection standards need to be accounted for and met when sharing any opioid-related data.

Once all the related data has been gathered and correlated, the analysis can begin, and you probably already have the geographic information system (GIS) technology you need to get started. The ArcGIS platform is essential to supporting your opioid reduction strategy. Key stakeholders are already using ArcGIS to store, manage, location enable, and analyze their data, but ArcGIS also provides contextual tools for sharing and exploring data as well as engaging community partners. Spatial analysis provides the foundation for informed decision-making and can help clarify the problem, providing information including the spatial distribution of overdoses, the relationship between opiates and crime, predicted hot spots of activity, and the best locations and routes for resources. Esri's tools go beyond mapping and visualization with real-time capabilities that accelerate response, dashboards that improve operational awareness, mobile apps that allow you easily share and collect data from the field, and engagement apps that help you educate and inform the community. Learn more about how Esri supports the war to end addiction at



  1. Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). "Opioid Painkiller Prescribing—Where You Live Makes a Difference." Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at
  3. Jones, C. M. "Heroin Use and Heroin Use Risk Behaviors among Nonmedical Users of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers—United States, 2002–2004 and 2008–2010." Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013 September 1; 132(1-2):95-100. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.01.007. E-publication date 2013 February 12.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016). "Fentanyl." Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

By Mike King, Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager • Esri Public Safety Team


Recently, while preparing some breakout sessions for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Western Regional Conference in Southern California, I had the opportunity to sit with Lawrie Jordan, the director of imagery and remote sensing at Esri. My challenge to Jordan was to help the conference participants understand how geographic information system (GIS) technology has changed in recent years and how today's imagery impacts accurate location information.


I found myself captivated as I listened to Jordan simplifying the complex nature of in-vehicle navigation. Speaking in simple terms, he helped me understand the complexity of GIS and the navigation process. He used terminology I understood and artfully painted a picture in my mind that made it possible to comprehend the myriad of processes involved in navigating from one place to another.


In what he termed "the illusion of simplicity," Jordan said the following:


"Mike, think of your car's navigation system—it knows where you are, and when you tell it where you want to go, it simply takes you there. If you get lost or don't follow its directions, it will growl at you for a moment, recalculate a new route, and provide you with updated directions to safely get you to your destination. The benefit is that we are almost never lost. We simply hit the device's home button, and it will direct us home.


"What we don't see, fortunately, are the technologies that make this happen. They include four of the most complicated technologies ever invented. A constellation of orbiting satellites resides thousands of miles above us in space. Each satellite is triangulating its location with other satellites at a rate of a thousand times per second. While doing this, the satellites are communicating with your car, and while this is happening, the earth continues to turn. The satellites are moving, and your vehicle is traveling at a variable rate of speed on city streets, highways, or backcountry dirt roads. These roadways are a series of topologically vectored networks that have a geodatabase attached to them, telling us important information like where the restaurants and gas stations are located.


"Luckily for us, this all works behind the scenes, and we don't have to wrestle with the device for answers—we simply enjoy the benefit without having to struggle with the technology."


Using a navigation system is meant to be simple. At Esri, we like to say that the future belongs to the simple and quick.


As public safety agencies move closer to next-generation 911 and begin embracing IP-based technologies, GIS will become even more important. Everything is associated with a physical location on a map. Sensor datasets found in vehicle locations, weather, crowdsourcing media, traffic patterns, and more, have become readily available through what we now call the Internet of Things (IoT). Albert Einstein once said, "If I can't see it, I can't understand it." GIS provides powerful tools to analyze, interpret, and share results for better decision-making and is helping government leaders answer important questions.


As I was leaving Jordan's office, he remarked, "all of this information is bringing geography to life. GIS is migrating data from the static, two-dimensional world of the past into a living, dynamic, active, understandable, and motion-driven future. 3D capabilities are revolutionizing GIS, and we are seeing an entirely new chapter open. What we're witnessing is the reinvention of geography itself."


Esri understands how powerful the illusion of simplicity is, and our scientists are working tirelessly in pioneering ArcGIS, the world's most powerful mapping and analytics software. To learn more about how GIS benefits public safety and the emergency call-taking industry, go to


Join Esri at the APCO Western Regional Conference in Ontario, California, to be held April 10–13, at the Ontario Convention Center, where a GIS track for next-generation 911 will be featured. Esri customers get a $25 discount off the registration fee by entering the promo code Esri. Learn more at