Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Disasters = Reflections on the Power of GIS

Events like Irene often trigger reflections on what GIS can bring to the emergency preparedness and response equation.  In that vein, the online 1 V Magazine has recently posted an article by Matt Ball that you may find of interest.  Go here.

Three thoughts:

  • Carl Reed of OGC Standards has added an interesting post that points to the need for “standards” when working in this realm.  I highly recommend that you read his attached post.  It hits on a theme you have seen posted here – geospatial data is absolutely critical to disaster response, but it is of marginal value if everyone is off doing their own thing.  Carl also points out an excellent background document that he helped write for the National Academies of Science: Successful Response Starts With a Map.  Go here for the executive summary, or to order the book.

  • Final thought.  At the bottom of Matt’s article you will find links that continue to build on the theme that GIS has much to offer to the emergency services sector.  However, as the saying goes in the U.S. Armed Forces, “You fight, like you train”.  Indeed, for geospatial capability to have value during a disaster – it has to be “trained” and developed before things go ugly -  it’s simply too late to make things happen when a flood comes, a hurricane visits, an earthquake shakes, or some other calamity happens.  Remember that thought when the bright lights of attention dim on Irene.        

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Delta State Releases Prototype U.S. National Grid Interface for the Irene Response

The USNG National Implementation Center (TUNIC) at Delta State University has just released a prototype U.S. National Grid (USNG) viewer and map download interface for the Hurricane Irene response.  Look for it here.  Places where thin lined black boxes appear, a USNG image based map is available for download.

Comment: Oddly, this approach looks very familiar.  Indeed, it was first pioneered by the EPC in early 2009 for the Red River Valley floods by using the Minnesota created open source software GeoMOOSE.  Later, the approach was also adapted for use in the Minnesota Structures Collaborative

I'm not saying, I'm just saying.  

Monday, August 29, 2011


"Hazus joins the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX)
The Hazus Program is implementing an improvement in its user support processes that we’d like you to know about.  While the Hazus Helpdesk ( is still the main source of providing Hazus user’s with technical support, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with FEMA’s Map Information eXchange (FMIX) to provide additional telephone support.  The new partnership with the FMIX will give Hazus users the ability to speak directly with a support representative during normal business hours to follow up on Helpdesk tickets, receive assistance in using the Helpdesk, or get answers to general questions about Hazus. 
The toll free phone number for Hazus technical support (1-877-283-8789) has not changed.  Starting on Monday, 8/22/11 calls to that number will be automatically redirected to the FMIX.  Users can also reach the FMIX directly by calling 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627).  FMIX hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am until 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time (Eastern Daylight Time). Self-service options are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Google's Crisis Map - Falling Short of the Mark

For those with interest in Google's offering for the masses for Hurricane Irene, go here

Comment: In many ways this is a very nice, simple way to make a dynamic emergency situation, visually understandable.  However, as a geospatial tool being promoted by a "crisis response organization", it is sorely lacking in one very important feature, U.S. National Grid (USNG) capability - something that has been shown can be easily implemented within Google's mapping applications by much smaller organizations like the National Search and Rescue Committee and Florida's Division of Emergency Management.  Unfortunately, this oversight by the 10 million pound gorilla in the common man's world of maps means Google is missing out on an excellent opportunity to help build national awareness about this use of geospatial technology for emergency preparedness and response (unlike ESRI), as well as awareness about U.S. geospatial standards for crisis response (see page 119 of this document).  Google has done so many great things when it comes to bringing geospatial awareness to the world - for all our sakes, let's hope this is one area where they soon do the same.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene Geospatial Information Page Is Available


In support of Minnesota corporations that may need geospatial information for their operations along the U.S. East Coast during, and after Hurricane Irene, a special information page devoted to the event is now available.

Look for it by clicking on the "Available GIS for Disasters" link in the right side bar.  Then click on "Hurricane Irene" in the left side bar of the site's Home page.  Alternately, click here to proceed directly.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Save The World Using a GIS - In Your Browser!!!!

When the boss catches you goofing off at work.......I DID NOT TELL YOU ABOUT THIS!

Courtesy of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, comes your opportunity to save the world by using a GIS in your browser.  Flood, Tsunami, Hurricane, Wildfire, or Earthquake - it makes no difference - you are superman, or superwoman, when armed with geospatial awareness!  Go here to play: Stop Disasters! 

What the heck, its Friday......

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Koreans Sue Apple Over iPhone Tracking

From PC World:
27,000 South Koreans Sue Apple Over iPhone Privacy Violations

The class-action suit against Apple stems from the revelations that the iPhone tracks and stores data about users' movements and sends the anonymous information to Apple servers.

"The flap over iPhone location tracking led to some grandstanding in Congress and a few lawsuits by users in the United States over privacy concerns, but now nearly 27,000 South Koreans are suing Apple for privacy violations."  Read more.

Reminder: Next EPC meeting - September 8th at 2:00 PM.  Event details and sign up is here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Geospatial Tech's Impact on Government's Emergency Response Efforts

Click on the link below to proceed to the article as published in Government Computer News:

Virtual USA: How Geospatial Tech Is Changing Government
By Patrick Marshall
Aug 10, 2011

Here's the pitch: "A geospatial framework emerges for emergency response coordination among federal, state and local governments."

Comment: This article is actually the lead piece in an interlocking series on the same subject that can be found by clicking links in the "Related coverage" window, middle of the first page.  Correspondingly, even more articles can be found by using the "Related coverage" links in those follow on pieces.   As you are reading these articles that focus primarily on the power of technology, remember there are three pieces that must be in place to make a Common Operating Picture (Virtual USA) approach work: technology, people and policies.  Without those last two, the effort will fall far short of what is technologically possibleGo here to read more on that point (shameless plug).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

99 Cents Gets You the U.S. National Grid on Your iPhone

MilGPS Version 1.1

There are more than a few of these U.S. National Grid (USNG)/Military Gird Reference System (MGRS)applications out there floating around.  Big pluses for this system:
  • SIMPLE - straightforward readout of your location in grid coordinates
  • Florida USNG Efforts - managed to get the developer to lean forward and anticipate a Next Generation 9-1-1 requirement.  The app allows for the, "easy transfer of coordinate to any other application to include text messaging."  Just think of the requirement to tell a 911 call center an ADDRESS during the stress of an emergency - instead they could get a text message with precise USNG coordinates.........  All for a mere 99 cents!
iPhone Screenshot 1

Monday, August 22, 2011

Blurred Satellite Images - Living in the Post 9/11 World

(Link updated on May 31, 2012)

Click on the link below to read the article by the Associated Press:
  1. Since ALL infrastructure data has a location element to it, location is the cross compartment unifying theme for managing and visualizing emergency preparedness and response efforts for those systems. Consequently, infrastructure data is headed toward center stage of the much bigger geospatial data fight that has started to emerge in our nation. (See the "Legal" category, this blog)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The 9-1-1 Carnage Continues...

To read the article as posted at the Kennebec Journal online, click on the link below:

Posted: August 20
Updated: Today at 8:13 PM

Staff Writer

Comment: I'm not counting, but there have been at least 10 high profile incidents in the past year where application of  9-1-1 technology has failed our nation (typically, with fatal results).  Dispatchers typing in the wrong address, callers giving the wrong address, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems unable to find an address, CAD systems auto-filling the wrong address, and so on.  And the incidents have not been isolated - indeed they have been spread across the country: Atlanta, Maine, St Louis, Denver, Ohio, Florida, California, Tucson, and Pennsylvania - to name a few.  The irony of the situation is that units of government will spend MILLIONS of dollars to install the latest and greatest CAD system in hopes of shaving seconds off response times, yet the "new" system will inherently have the same basic flaw as the old system - something that can cause errors in minutes - reliance on an ADDRESS driven exchange of information.  There is a better way to communicate location for emergency response situations.  One that is free and endorsed  by FEMA, the National Search and Rescue Committee, and the Federal Geographic Data Committee - the U.S. National Grid (USNG).  Sadly, within the emergency services sector, very few have embraced the approach.  For example, a recent Needs Assessment by the National Fire Protection Association found that less than 2% of the nation's fire departments were using USNG in their operations. 

Hopefully, the light bulb will finally come on for the 9-1-1/emergency services sector before the carnage goes much further.  In that regard, Minnesota has made significant progress but still has a long way to go.

In Minnesota:

Friday, August 19, 2011

GIS Used to Predict Crime

Click on the link below to read the article from the New York Times:

U.S.   | August 16, 2011
Sending the Police Before There's a Crime
In California, "predictive policing" deploys officers in places where crimes are likely to occur in the future.

Comment: On its face, this article is a little thin on providing technical details that relate what they are talking about is a geospatial system based by algorithmns.  To get to that meat, click on the "unusual experiment" link in the article for a quick loading nine-slide Power Point. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Next Quarterly Meeting of the EPC - September 8, 2011

Looking for something to do when the Minnesota State Fair is over, the kids are back in school - but the leaves are still somewhat attached to the trees?  Well, I've got just the answer:

The next Quarterly Meeting of the MnGeo Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC)! 

Highlights of the September 8th event:
For event details, to include online participation information, go here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Webinar: Discovering GIS Information that Supports Public Safety

"The National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation and the National States Geographic Information Council, with support from the US Department of Homeland Security, are co-hosting a webcast training to provide  public safety and emergency services personnel and GIS & IT professionals with training on how to use the GIS Inventory to advance the use of geospatial information in daily public safety operations."

To learn more and sign up for the event, go here

Comment: As we recently discovered with the shut down of government in Minnesota, knowing how and where to look for data outside "normal" channels can be important.  The GIS Inventory is an ongoing effort to catalog available data sources for the nation in one place - as such it could become a very important tool for the emergency services sector in the years going forward.  Additionally, individuals interested in using this type of approach should be aware of a similar effort developed by the Naval Research Lab Stennis Spaceport Center's Digital Mapping, Charting and Geodesy Analysis Program (DMAP) team in the 2005-2006 time frame.  Go here, to learn more.     

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

EMI Announces: Hazards United States-Multi-Hazards (HAZUS-MH) for Floodplain Managers

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) will be presenting a new course, "Hazards United States-Multi-Hazards (HAZUS-MH) for Floodplain Managers", at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in
Anniston, Alabama, during September 26-29, 2011.  Cost of transportation, lodging and course materials is covered by FEMA.  To learn more, including application procedures, go here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

HAZUS User Group Conference Calls - August 16th

HUG Leadership Call
  • Open to  all HUG Leaders
  • 1:30-2:30 PM Eastern Time
  • Conference Number: 1-570-720-0113, Passcode: 1351813#
  • This call will feature an open discussion on outreach and development between HUG leaders, with a review of the 5th Annual Hazus Conference.

HUG Topic Specific Call
  • Open to all Hazus Users
  • 3:00-4:00 PM Eastern Time
  • Conference Number: 1-570-720-0113, Passcode: 1351813#
  • Keith Porter, PE, PhD, Associate Research Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder; Principal, SPA Risk LLC, Denver CO
  • Rapid Observation of Vulnerability and Estimation of Risk (ROVER). ROVER is fast, free, mobile, software for state and local governments and private-sector building owners to perform pre- and post-earthquake building safety assessments. ROVER also integrates with USGS's ShakeCast software to perform real-time seismic monitoring, and with Hazus-MH for prospective risk analysis.


Here's information about a free DHS program of information that may be of help to you:

The Emergency Management and ResponseInformation Sharing and Analysis Center (EMR-ISAC) is located at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. It provides no-cost threat and vulnerability information as well as critical infrastructure protection and resilience lessons learned and best practices to the leaders and operators of the nation’s Emergency Services Sector (ESS).

The EMR-ISAC primarily aims to assist firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, law enforcers, emergency managers, 9-1-1 operators, and related disciplines in making informed decisions regarding survivability and continuity of operations in an all-hazards environment. The intended outcome of the EMR-ISAC efforts is to improve the capabilities of emergency departments and agencies to perform their mission-essential tasks before, during, and after an all-hazards event.

In addition to “For Official Use Only” documents for vetted/validated personnel, the EMR-ISAC also disseminates weekly non-sensitive INFOGRAMs for a wider ESS audience. The free services of the EMR-ISAC specifically support Department of Homeland Security initiatives to share information among federal, state, local, tribal, territorial public and private departments, agencies, and organizations. Recently, the EMR-ISAC established a community of interest (COI) on the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) to facilitate the sharing of FOUO information with the vetted, incumbent ESS leadership. The COI includes announcements, alerts, advisories, updated products, news feeds, and other useful links.

For more information see their website at:, or contact them at:; 301-447-1325.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

USAID to Stand Up New Geospatial Intelligence Center


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Now Microsoft is Taking the Heat About Publishing Geo-location Data

Microsoft Curbs Wi-Fi Location Database
August 1, 2011 12:38 PM PDT
by Declan McCullagh

"Microsoft has ceased publishing the estimated locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other devices with Wi-Fi connections around the world after a CNET article on Friday highlighted privacy concerns.

The decision to rework's geolocation service comes following scrutiny of the way Microsoft made available its database assembled by both Windows Phone 7 phones and what the company calls "managed driving" by Street View-like vehicles that record Wi-Fi signals accessible from public roads. Every Wi-Fi device has a unique ID, sometimes called a MAC address, that cannot normally be changed."  Read more

Comment: Trust me, this privacy of geospatial location data "thing" (in an Ap enabled world), is only getting started.  Unfortunately, the unforeseen negative consequences for the emergency services sector could be significant.

Friday, August 12, 2011

S-341 - GIS Specialist for Incident Management Course Dates Announced

The S-341 - GIS Specialist for Incident Management Course, run by the National Widlfire Coordinating Group will be given at three different times at three different venues in 2012:
  • Phoenix, AZ: February 21-23, 2012
  • Redmond, OR: April 10-12, 2012
  • Asheville, NC: May 15-17, 2012 (IQCS session #027)
The course is described as: "The GIS Specialist course is designed to meet the training needs of a Geographic Information Systems Specialist (GISS) to manage the information needs of all-risk incidents managed with the Incident Command System (ICS). The course combines lecture, discussion, and group exercises in on-line and classroom environments. The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one of the most efficient methods for documenting, analyzing, and managing information regarding the location of facilities, conditions, and environments affected by Wildfire, Storms, Floods, Earthquakes, and other incidents. Candidates from all agencies involved in all-risk incident management are encouraged to attend."

To learn more, including application procedures, go here.  Nomination deadline line is November 1, 2011.

Comment:  The wildfire community long ago came to understand that GIS was absolutely critical to managing a fast moving, mutating disaster.  Consequently, the geospatial capacity within this sector of the Department of the Interior is well advanced and serves as a benchmark for where the Department of Homeland Security must move for both field operations and the development of systems like a national Common Operating Picture.  

The wildfire community also conducts the following other classes on geospatial technologies for emergency response:

N9005 - GIS Technician - All Risk  (No description available)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Police Struggle to Keep Tabs on 'Flash Mobs'

Associated Press
August 9, 2011

Rioters in London and elsewhere have been turning to Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools to stay one step ahead of the police.  Read more.

Comment: Twitter and Facebook are just the latest version of large groups using modern mobile technologies to do evil - something that started with the basic cellphone (example: Mankato State riot of 2006).  And unless response forces have at their disposal real time situational awareness tools like a Common Operating Picture (COP) (geospatial visualization) or a Blue Force Tracker system, they are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with these types of situations because of the dynamic, fast moving nature of the events.  In addition, the inherent need to quickly introduce additional forces from outside the jurisdiction means many of the responders are without geographic knowledge of the place they are being brought in to protect.  Verbal communication via radios is simply not powerful enough to manage a situation like this - instead, highly mobile geospatial visualization systems are needed.
Taken to the extreme, when an incident like the rioting in London gets out of hand due to the lack of situational awareness on the part of law enforcement, taxpayers can be left with a hefty bill.  Indications from the London riots point toward 10's of millions of dollars in damage.  On the flip side, the city of Los Angeles, CA was forced to pay out over $13.0 million dollars to protesters over excessive use of force after police officers lost situational awareness (and control) of a gathering in MacArthur Park on May 1st, 2007.  The geospatial "ounce of prevention" for these types of losses, would have cost a whole lot less.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Anger Builds Over Radiation Forecast Maps Withheld From Japanese Public

Click on the link below to read the article from the New York Times:

WORLD   | August 09, 2011
Japan Held Nuclear Data, Leaving Evacuees in Peril
Residents of a town in the nuclear disaster zone expressed fury that unpublished radiation forecasts could have prevented them from harm.

Comment: Much to its credit, no main stream paper has tuned into the Geospatial Revolution like the New York Times.  Unfortunately, from this sad story that it ran yesterday, comes a lesson for us all about the immense damage that can happen to society when geospatial technology is not handled with care and respect.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Oncology Clinic Gains Efficiency, Safety With RFID

From RFID Jornal Online
July 27, 2011
By Claire Swedberg

The UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is using ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID tags to track the movements of patients and staff members into and out of waiting and examination rooms, as well as through therapy, to ensure that no one waits excessively, and proper equipment is used.  Read more.

Comment:  This is use of geospatial technologies on a micro-scale.  Indeed, several companies like GE are now promoting similar approaches for tracking the location of all items in a hospital.   However, when blended with triage tagging, the real importance of this approach emerges - it would be a highly effective way to manage a mass casualty event.  Unfortunately, acceptance of this approach has been limited, with only a handful of disconnected deployments of the technology.  Go here for a background piece about efforts in Anaheim, CA, and here for a research piece published in Japan.

Monday, August 8, 2011

EPC Jobs Board

From time to time in the past, individuals have sent me information about geospatial job openings that directly support the emergency services sector, or support humanitarian, disaster relief, or related activities.  In turn, I have tried to pass that information along to specific individuals who I thought might be interested. 

In an effort to make that process more effective and open going forward, I have set up an "EPC Jobs Board" where I will post information of this nature.  When a position becomes available, I will post a short note relating same on the EPC Updates blog, with expanded details available by using the "Openings" link in the right side bar.

There are currently two job openings available:
  • Application Developer, Tallahassee, FL
  • GIS Specialist, Payments for Ecosystem Services Project, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


DHS IP Releases Infrastructure Taxonomy Version 4

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) has just announced release of Version 4 of its Infrastructure Taxonomy.  Read more.

Comment: Since its creation, DHS has struggled to align the various agencies it inherited and resulting divisions that were created when it came into existence following 911.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the various geospatial ("visualization") programs that populate the Department, with taxonomy being a perfect case in point.  While most parts of DHS break down geospatial information about infrastructure into 20+  basic categories (HSIP with slight variations by system) that were agreed to by the federal geospatial community - such as Agriculture, Energy, and Food Services, the Infrastructure Information Collection Division (IICD) has been using the approach outlined in the Infrastructure Taxonomy, an approach that owes its origins to standard industrial classifications.  Consequently, there are two very different approaches for visualizing infrastructure as promoted by the same federal Department.  However, as noted in the bulletin, look for IICD to transition away from the Infrastructure Taxonomy (industrial classifications) and toward the geospatial catalog approach in the next couple of years.  This will be done not only for intra-department standardization purposes, but because the Infrastructure Taxonomy approach simply doesn't provide the focused granularity that is required to keep up with DHS’s evolving geospatial capabilities.      

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Minneapolis PrepareFair 2011, September 28th

The 2nd annual Minneapolis PrepareFair 2011 is a partnership of the public and private sectors designed to educate the community in the best practices of emergency management.  It will be held on Wednesday, September 28th at the IDS Center’s Crystal Court and Nicollet Mall.  The event will include:

·         An array of exhibitors will be in the IDS Crystal Court from 10am to 2pm
·         Emergency vehicles will be on display on Nicollet Mall between from 10am to 2pm
·         Within the IDS Center there will be presentations by local experts in the field  emergency management and response

Learn more.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Registration Now Open for the 21st Annual MN GIS/LIS Fall Conference & Workshops

The MN GIS/LIS Fall Conference and Workshops registration opened on Wednesday, August 3rd.  Early registration ends on September 16th.

This year's event in St. Cloud will once again include the EPC promotional booth, and a variety of educational presentations on the use of geospatial technlogies for emergency response.  They include:
  • Using GIS in Search and Rescue in a Natural Environment – Simon Morgan, Three Rivers Park District
  • Deploying Next Generation 9-1-1: GIS needs from a State Perspective – Dan Falbo, ESRI; Jackie Mines, ECN-DPS
  • MNDOT and Counties Team up to Crowd-source Emergency Events – Sonia Dickerson, MN DOT
  • Carver County Flood Mapping: Quick and Efficient Map Updates for Road Closures – Chad Riley, Carver County
  • Next Generation GIS and 2011 Floods: A review and next steps – Dan Falbo, ESRI; John Blood, HSEM; Kay Anderson, Cass County; Paul Weinberger, MNDOT; Jim Bunning, Scott County; Pete Henschel, Carver County
It is particularily heartening to see two members of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety involved in these presentations for the first time: Jackie Mines and John Blood.  Please be sure to give them a warm welcome to the conference and attend their events if you can!  Full agenda and registration information can be found here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

September HIFLD Meeting Dates Announced

The next Homeland Infrastructure Foundation Level Data (HIFLD) Working Group meeting will take place on September 13-14.  The US Geological Survey (USGS) in Reston, Virginia will host the meeting that is designed to promote collaboration among Federal Sector Specific Agencies (SSAs), Defense Sector Lead Agencies (SLAs) and related Federal, State, and local Sector mission partners. This HIFLD Working Group meeting will focus on Remote Sensing, Imagery, Enhanced Elevation Data for the Nation, and Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR). Additionally, the further identification, acquisition and use of common geospatial infrastructure data and applications for shared use among HIFLD WG members.  Read more.

ACLU Files In 34 States Over Cell Phone Tracking - Police Targeted

Read the news release from the ACLU.

Comment: As I have been saying, you could smell this coming.  Look for impacts in the law enforcement and NG 9-1-1 communities for starters.  In addition, "to protect location privacy" the ACLU is pushing the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act that has been introduced in the Senate and House by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Jason Chaffetz.  Hang on to your hats, where this goes from here is anyone's guess. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Smartphones Expedite the Fighting of a Flood

Posted on Monday, Jul. 25, 2011

It will never replace a wall of sandbags, but Susan Abbott’s smartphone is turning out to be a pretty good tool for fighting the flooding of the Missouri River.
Part of Abbott’s job as a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers is to spot weakening levees before they become disasters. That used to take hours: Snap a picture on a digital camera, note the location, drive back to corps offices, download the photo and file a written report.
Now, with her smartphone and an application, she can take a picture, tap in a note, sync her phone and send all the information to a database in a matter of seconds. That can cut the time between information gathering, analysis and action by 24 to 36 hours — and that can mean the difference between saving the day and seeing a levee fail.  Read More...

Comment: In the early 2000's, the Rock Isalnd, IL district of the Army Corps of Engineers developed the approach as described in the first paragraph above. One of the primary concerns of those geospatially referenced efforts that required a GPS, camera, field notes and data consolidation on a computer back at the office - was the damage borrowing animals were doing to the levees over time.  So its gratifing to see what was once a cumbersome process to track something mundane but important, has now been reduced to something as simple as using a smartphone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Brother Is Watching You: The Town Where EVERY Car Is Tracked By Police Cameras

From the U.K's Daily Mail

31 July 2011

Big Brother is watching you: The town where EVERY car is tracked by police cameras
The small town of Royston, which has a population of around 15,000, will have seven police cameras recording the numberplate of every vehicle that passes them.  Read more.

Comment: For many years the Brits have used remote camera systems to record the license plates of individuals who run stop lights or are speeding.  However, this approach which includes data base scanning takes the technology to a whole new level.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Failure to Understand Flood Maps, Puts Expensive Homes Under Water in South Dakota

To read the article from the NewYork Times, click on the link below.

U.S.   | July 31, 2011
In the Flood Zone, but Astonished by High Water
Some are questioning whether safeguards in South Dakota encourage people to take unnecessary chances.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alabama Devotes Entire State GIS Conference to Emergency Response

In the wake of a series of devastating tornado events earlier this year, Alabama recently announced its 2-day state GIS conference would be devoted entirely to natural and man-made disaster response.  The Rocket City Geospatial and Alabama GIS Conference will be held in Huntsville, AL, on November 15, 16.  Event keynote will be delivered by Spencer Collier, Alabama's Director of Homeland Security. 

Registration information, call for presentations, agenda and more can be found here.

Comment: Alabama has been exceptionally progressive in seeing geospatial technologies as intergral to emergency preparedness and response.  Their development of Virtual Alabama following Katrina, has served as a guidepost for similar efforts by the federal government (Virtual USA) and several states, to include Minnesota.