GIS Placement within ICS

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10-28-2012 09:41 PM
New Contributor
I have been working for some time on creating local SOPs for utilization of GIS as a matter of routine on SAR Incidents.  Items like "Training Standards" and "Required Team Equipment" were relatively easy to put together.  I am getting hung up on placement within the Incident Command System.  Depending on what you read there are different answers to this.

Traditionally it appears that GIS is placed within the Situation Unit of the Plans Section.

Some place it as a Technical Specialist Position within the Plans Section.

Others use the term "GIS Branch", but never identify how that position fits within ICS; in fact, the term Branch does not seem to fit at all for this service.

I believe that GIS Services are vital to most sections (Ops, Plans, and Logistics), but believe that there needs to be a "GIS Unit" (or similar term) placed within the Plans Section so that GIS Services can be coordinated by one "GIS Unit Leader"... but where in the Plans Section should GIS be placed.  Does anyone have an idea on this?  Are there some standards that exist for this in the SAR Community, or in your SAR Organisation?  Most importantly does anyone have an ICS Chart Diagram that shows this relationship between GIS and ICS?

Thanx...
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New Contributor II
Jonathan,

The GIS Standard Operating Procedures on Incidents describes the GIS Unit located in the Situation Unit under Plans.
http://gis.nwcg.gov/documents/gstop/documents/GSTOP_2012FieldReview_20120426.pdf
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New Contributor
Thanx, Tom.  That is one document I have not read yet... but will...  With in the SITL is where I also thought it should be placed, but then I saw policies from some agencies that placed GIS as it's own unit, and not part of the SITL Unit.  Others used the term "GIS Branch", which according to ICS would place it directly under a Section (presumably Plans).  While others placed a GIS Specialist under each section (plans, ops, and logistics) without one singular GIS Team/Unit/whatever.  It is almost as if, for some, GIS is such  new concept that they have no idea how to fit that resource within ICS.  I see, for SAR Purposes at least, the need to immediately establish a Plans Section and SITL, within which you MUST establish Investigations and Incident Mapping IMMEDIATELY!  I got the "SAR M.A.P." flyer you sent out through the Google Groups, and love that.  That helps.  Thanx.
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Occasional Contributor
You have to remember that GSTOP is for wildfires, not all-hazard, so it may be a different situation for other types of emergencies.

FEMA has developed two courses in their ICS training that deal with GIS. IS-922 and IS-103. In these, it's clear that GIS can be housed under both Planning and Operations.

We typically do that, and have one GIS responder operating and maintaining the Common Operational Picture display, while others prepare printed maps and perform analysis.
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