In July of this year, public safety professionals from around the world descended on San Diego, California to attend Esri’s 4-day National Security and Public Safety Summit. Over 700 commanders and staff came together to share the challenges and successes they’ve had while protecting over the past year.
As the conference began, I stood in awe, hand over heart, as the flag of the United States was presented. I listened intently as our national anthem was powerfully sung. I felt a sense of gratitude at the reverence displayed by our many international colleagues and government leaders in attendance.
During a “moment of silence” for those who had lost their lives in the line of duty last year, my mind raced back to personal friends who died in the line of duty. Their deaths and the accompanying heartache felt by comrades and loved ones suddenly raced back and I found myself stirred with deep emotion. I could see the faces of many of the attendees, and they too seemed to be humbly honoring those great heroes from around the world.
Once the summit was underway, I saw police officers, firefighters and emergency managers sitting side-by-side, interacting with each other, both during and in-between sessions. Their common mission of public protection powerfully eliminated preconceived misconceptions and personal biases. Together, they were learning from each other, embracing commonalities and solving problems.
I marveled at the great work being done globally, like the work of the Lebanese Red Cross who adopted a new GIS strategy to improve ambulance response times. These efforts are now saving lives and our colleagues in Lebanon are leveraging that investment to improve their mobile web applications for improved data collection and information sharing.
The summit provided examples of real-world, national security and public safety challenges, like those shared by CEO Brian Fontes of NENA, the National Emergency Number Association. Fontes shared NENA’s newly created national PSAP Registry portal, designed to spatially show all public safety answering points (command & control centers). The Registry will support many of the next generation call-taking efforts.
Other presentations included how U.S. Customs and Border Protection is saving lives through the Missing Migrant Program. This program was designed to save lives along the 4,200 square miles of the Rio Grande Valley and evidence shows that it’s working.
Richard Reed of the FirstNet Authority shared how GIS is used in the rollout of the first voice and data broadband network dedicated to first-responders and Colonel Volker Kozok showed how the German Armed Forces are using GIS to combat hybrid warfare.
At one point, I found myself smiling as I reflected on what I was witnessing. It was a true “coming together” of several life-saving disciplines and it included all of the fun-loving banter that exists between first-responders.
My personal example goes like this (and sounds like a broken record) as several old firefighter friends approached me with the same humor I’ve heard for 40 years, saying, “Hey King, if you could have scored two more points on your public safety exam, you could have been a fireman too!” Not to be outdone, and in true form to my law enforcement brotherhood, I simply responded with some of the many reasons why law enforcement is a more noble career, and why we always won the town celebration tug-o’-wars – not just by brawn… but also our brilliance!
The National Security and Public Safety Summit offered everyone in attendance with a unique balance between visionary leader keynotes, forward-thinking presentations and networking opportunities where attendees could learn about the rapid advances that are occurring globally, including how GIS is influencing and empowering first-responders. Let's continue the conversation in this GeoNet discussion, how will you work to build resilience and collaborate in the new normal?
FEMA has combined a number of applications that are part of the FEMA GeoPlatform to create theHurricane Incident Journal. This story map provides relevant and up-to-date data and tools that provide spatial decision-making support to FEMA leadership. The journal is available to the general public to provide a greater understanding of storm events and a view into the federal information that comes together to inform disaster response.
Included in the Hurricane Incident Journal are:
Hurricane Dashboard for Surge Inundation – presents a dashboard view that details the population exposed to surge inundation
Hurricane Force Winds Dashboard – analysis of population within the wind threshold
Logistics Needs for Surge Inundation – an estimation of the resources needed to support the populations exposed to storm surge
Call Volume – an estimation of the number of callers and translator requirement based on surge inundation
Hazard Exposure – a model of community impacts weighted by forecasted flood depth, wind speed, and social vulnerability
Flood Extents – a hydrodynamic model that simulates flooding based on the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory RIFT model
Infrastructure – an interactive map to view the impacts on essential facilities (hospitals, schools, senior centers, etc.) based on wind speeds
Transportation –traffic reports from Waze updated every two minutes with Hurricane Evacuation Routes and fuel availability
Federal Support Disaster Declaration – a dashboard that shows the counties that have requested federal disaster response
In addition to the individual applications, the Hurricane Incident Journal contains dialogue about each map and links to further resources. The modeled damage assessments are based on flood depth grids and verified using satellite imagery. Wind data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Satellite imagery and other remote sensing inputs are from NASA and the European Union’s Copernicus program. Weather data comes from the National Weather Service. Flooding models are informed by stream gauge sensor data feeds from the US Geological Survey. Additionally, these applications draw on data from joint field offices, disaster recovery centers, shelters, and other sources.
Esri’s geospatial cloud platform, ArcGIS , provides the means to deliver these lightweight applications. These dashboards and interactive maps incorporate an array of inputs to provide a quickly understandable common operational picture—condensing the time between data and decisions.
For more information on active hurricane response, please visit the Esri Disaster Response Program at www.esri.com/disaster.
A new interactive story map provides a place to share photos from the 2018 hurricane season. People can quickly post photos of preparations and the impacts from this year’s storms. The photos appear on a map alongside projected storm paths, providing an on-the-ground perspective of these events as they unfold. Visitors to the map can zoom in to see the photos related to specific areas or can browse through all the images to get a broad overview of storms.
The app is designed to engage those on the ground in these areas as well as those bearing witness from afar. Participants are encouraged to upload images from social media channels that contain an identified location. The images and map provide a compelling interface to gain a greater understanding of 2018 hurricane damage at the ground level.
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.
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.