Vancouver Tests New Emergency Management Solution Created from the TatukGIS DK-ActiveX

EmerGeo has been designed by people who have faced the challenge of maintaining situation maps in government and corporate emergency centers. It is an OpenGIS based web mapping application that gives emergency planners and responders quick access to GIS data from multiple sources and multiple GIS mapping systems. (GISuser Case Study) The “EmerGeo” internet-based emergency mapping solution is a client-server application created from the DK-ActiveX toolkit. EmerGeo is based on the most recent DK-ActiveX 8 beta version. The developer of the EmerGeo product has been a DK-ActiveX licensed user since May, 2003.

Vancouver Company Puts New Mapping Technology to the Test

 

Map view from citywide disaster response exercise in the City of Vancouver, involving police, fire, engineering and other departments. Application created from the TatukGIS DK.


EmerGeo Solutions Inc. of North Vancouver, B.C. has developed a new internet-based emergency mapping application called EmerGeo.

EmerGeo was recently put to the test during a citywide disaster exercise in the City of Vancouver. A large wildland fire started by an overturned gasoline tanker caused the evacuation of hundreds of residents. To make matters worse, a gas main burst in the area released flammable materials into the air. This scenario was a smaller scale version of BCs worst wildland fires this summer.

EmerGeo was used to maintain a situation map for all the city emergency responders working in the Emergency Operation Centre. Fire, Police, Engineering and other departments could access their own version of these maps to plan their response actions and publish critic al information such as evacuation areas and road closures to the situation map so all decision-makers had a common operating picture.

This web-based mapping program was also donated to the B.C. Ministry Regional Operations Centre (MROC) this summer in support of the fire fighting efforts. We saw provincial government web sites describing evacuation alert areas by listing streets and landmarks as boundaries. We recognized that emergency planners could use this tool to effectively communicate critical information. Using EmerGeo, evacuation areas, locations of special needs populations who may need help evacuating, evacuation routes and other critical information can be communicated in real-time to anyone with approved access, a web browser with internet connection, explains Mike Morrow of EmerGeo Solutions. We were fortunate to be able to deliver mapping data with our application through a generous donation from a leading commercial mapping data supplier in Canada, DMTI Spatial Inc., Morrow states.

 

Real-time map image at the command/control center for efforts to fight the Okanagan Park fire in British Columbia in the summer of 2003. Application created from the TatukGIS DK.


Electronic mapping (or Geographic Information Systems) is not new to emergency management. Some emergency response organizations can easily call upon technical experts to run mapping systems for them. Smaller organizations and communities are often the first line of defence in emergencies but typically do not have the in-house capabilities or financial resources to manage their own mapping system. EmerGeo can provide these groups with much needed capabilities.

A recent article in a leading US Homeland Security publication highlights some problems with existing mapping systems: While emergency responders worked fast during the terrorist attacks on September 11th, they could have worked faster if the maps had arrived sooner. The problem was that none of the data was available in a central repository. It was located on individual desktops across the city. The GIS team had to go to where the data was, collect it often on disk and import it into the GIS laptops and desktops. The article goes on to say: The single most important lesson learned in New York City was that all of this data has to be brought together, Russ Johnson of ESRI says. Had a GOS Geospatial One-Stop style system been available on Sept. 11th, emergency responders would have had instant electronic access to the data and the information the GIS mapping team had to assemble by hand.

EmerGeo Solutions Inc. is a partnership of two B.C. companies, EMIS Technologies Inc. and Lookfar Solutions Inc. The companies founders have worked alongside emergency responders, often called in to emergency centres to run mapping programs. The EmerGeo application is designed to be really simple to use, give users a single place to access mapping data they need from multiple sources across the Internet, yet able to operate even when the Internet is down. Emergency managers finally have a tool that allows them to access the right maps and information themselves without having to wait for the mapping experts to arrive, states Tim Webb, one of EmerGeos designers. EmerGeo has recently been installed in the City of Vancouvers Emergency Operation Centre and many government agencies and corporations are planning implementations.

 

The view of the Okanagan Park fire in August 2003 from the town of Peachland on the opposite side of the lake.


To obtain more information on EmerGeo or other emergency management technologies, please contact Mike Morrow at (604) 688-4499 or email mmorrow@emistech.com. Information on EmerGeo can also be obtained from the EMIS Technologies web page at www.emistech.com.

Related Websites:

Article by Herman Moyers, TatukGIS (www.tatukgis.com)

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