Thursday, September 29, 2011

NGA Release: Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) Video

Here's the pitch from NGA:

"HSIP: Putting the Power of Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) in the User’s Hands.
As an official HIFLD Member, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in partnership with other Federal agencies, has produced a Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) video and it’s now available on the HIFLD Working Group portal,, and on YouTube,"
Comment: This video is worth watching for two reasons:
  • It helps provide understanding about the HSIP program. 
  • It highlights the significant progress that has been made toward building a common geospatial understanding of the U.S. since 9/11 (from nothing - to a functional product)
Beyond that, be careful.  Contrary to what the video would have you believe, not everything is peachy-keen in HSIP land.  The federal government can’t be everywhere, so in many ways the quality of data in the HSIP product suite (Gold and Freedom) is totally dependent upon the timeliness and fidelity of data that State and Local governments are willing to provide - an issue with many pitfalls.  Additionally, despite authorization that was granted earlier this year to state National Guard headquarters to unlock and routinely use HSIP Gold, HSIP Gold remains essentially a Federal product.  Consequently, very few State or Local units of governments have “pre-event” access to HSIP Gold data, and without that, unlocking, loading and incorporating that data into products for responders flying out the door is problematic at best.   Finally, access to highly accurate geospatial data in an era of increasingly tightly interwoven infrastructure is absolutely critical to emergency preparedness and response – a point that the video seems to indicate is well under control through the HSIP process.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  To get there – it’s going to take geospatial data “collaboration” and not just geospatial data “collection”.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Webinar: Emergency Response Managers Seek Mobile Capabilities and Real-time Communications (The Other Side of the Coin)

Sponsored by Emergency Management magazine, here's an opportunity to learn about the other side of the coin from yesterday's post - how the Public Safety community is using social media to communicate awareness information to "consumers" in a timely way.

Here's are the highlights as offered by the magazine:
  • "Industry leader Paul Wormeli will discuss the results of an Emergency Management survey that shows how managers are seeking mobile applications that allow them to reach millions of citizens in emergencies and do so in near-real time.
  • You’ll see how New York State’s Office of Emergency Management alert the citizens of New York to natural and man made emergencies or disasters, to ensure they stay knowledgeable and safe."
Event information: 
  • Date: October 6, 2011
  • Time: 2:00pm ET / 11:00 PT
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • For more information and to register to attend: Go here

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Social Media Equals Survival (One Side of the Coin)

To read the article from the New York Times, click the link below:

WORLD   | September 25, 2011
Mexico Turns to Social Media for Information and Survival
Social media has become a necessity in Mexico, with a mission far different from that of the Arab revolutions - here, it is deployed for local survival.

Comment: Earlier this month in a post entitled: Social Media and Emergency Management, it was noted how technical elements of the conventional and non-conventional worlds of Emergency Management are moving toward a point of convergence.  Similarly, this article provides insights into how "consumers" of Public Safety information have been enpowered by social media to support their information needs when the conventional approach has not kept up with "what is possible".  In tommorrow's post, the situation will be flipped around - the post will provide an opportunity to learn how one part of the Public Safety community has been using social media to communicate its message to "consumers". 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Civil Air Patrol - ARGUS and ARCHER Presentation

During the EPC quarterly meeting on September 8, 2011, members of the Minnesota Wing of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) provided an absolutely superb brief on some of the Wing's capabilities.  Highlighted during that brief were two systems:

  • ARGUS - Automated Recon Geotagging-image Upload System
  • ARCHER - Airborne Real-time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance

The presentation can be viewed here.  For best viewing, use the "Start Slide Show" button found on the left part of the function bar immediately above the viewing area.  Although the live demonstration examples shown during the meeting are not available in the Power Point format, the presentation still contains an amazing amount of awareness information.  Consequently, I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to review it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Putting Fukushima in Perspective

To read the article from the London based Guardian, click the link below:

Fukushima nuclear disaster: PM at the time feared Japan would collapse

Justin McCurry

Friday September 9, 2011

Comment: This article ran earlier this month, but continues to be republished because of the perspective it gives to Fukushima.  The gist: Tepco had considered abandoning the Fukushima plant after it was hit by the 11 March tsunami, but remained in the game because of the very real possibility that run-away reactors would ultimately require the permanent evacuation of the Tokyo metro due to radioactive contamination.  The collapse of Japan would then follow.  Given the technological prowess of Japan - that's a sobering thought for us all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tickets – The FREE Open Source Computer-Aided-Dispatch and Situation Awareness Software

Lead programmer on the Tickets project is Arnie Shore, who was reportedly involved for many years in the technical implementation of the Moscow-Washington “Hotline”.  And, I mean seriously, if he could be trusted with keeping the entire planet from turning into a globe of glass, don’t you think his team’s FREE Computer-Aided-Dispatch (CAD) software is good enough for you?  The Chinese think so – they’ve downloaded thousands of copies of Tickets. 

Here’s what you get:

  • Web-based system – that works in any browser, with any Operating System,
  • Real-time operation, with a no-Internet option,
  • Basic U.S. National Grid support, regionalization (new), map markup, operator chat, KML support,
  • Mobile unit tracking via APRS, Latitude, Instamapper, LocateA, and others,
  • Extensive tailoring to support local operation requirements/terminology - e.g., a Spanish language version is available,
  • Dynamic situation awareness via color-coding, and
  • Tablet support.
Typical usage: Natural resources law enforcement, airport security, EMS response, special event support, and small units of government that can’t afford big-ticket CAD systems.

Want to know more?  Start here with this online article.  Then checkout the project home page and download site at  Don’t expect one of those fancy websites that the commercial vendors slap up with customer money – but you will be able to figure out if Tickets makes sense for you (I recommend viewing the screen shots).  Heck, Arnie and his crew will even include free web hosting for public safety operations.  And to me, that makes Tickets the best CAD deal going no matter how hard you look!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We Have Met the Enemy, and He is Us

According to Federal Computer Week, the U.S. Census Bureau is exploring ways to share its geospatial data with state and local governments.  However, the stumbling block as noted in a September 14th news release is a policy issue: "The Census Bureau is exploring various possibilities to work with local governments to maintain and update its address database in ways that are totally consistent with current Title 13 confidentiality guarantees.”  Go here to read more.

Comment: Another solution just might be a slimy green thing called a GECCo.  One will be slithering its way into the Twin Cities on October 27th and 28th.  Find out all about it by clicking the GECCo promo banner (currently) at the very bottom of this web page.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

HAZUS Podcasts Are Now Available

FEMA recently made previously recorded Hazus User Group (HUG) calls available via Podcasts.  According to FEMA, "You can find these on iTunes by searching for “Hazus” or on the USEHAZUS website at"

In addition, from the website referenced above, there are a number of other resources to help develop and build out local HAZUS user community efforts.  Among these is a Power Point on flooding in North Dakota recently briefed by Jesse Rozelle of FEMA VIII.  Go here to view.  (Look for use of the USNG in the slides!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Responder Communities of Practice

Here are some updates about the Department of Homeland Security sponsored First Responder Communities of Practice:

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) created First Responder Communities of Practice to provide a platform for the emergency response community to collaborate across jurisdictions and disciplines. Members can stay in touch with colleagues, seek answers from subject matter experts, use their own expertise to answer others' questions, access critical documents, form communities around specific projects or areas of interest related to homeland security, and stay informed about the latest tools, technologies, and information in their fields.
Here are some of the latest developments from the communities:

  • The DHS Virtual Social Media Working Group (VSMWG) held its monthly meeting this week. They plan to release a social media guidance document shortly, which will provide guidance and use cases for agencies that are starting to use social media to better connect with the public and fulfill their missions. Join their collaboration space, the Make America Safer through Social Media community.
  • VSMWG members participated on a panel discussion at the Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference and Expo (TCIP) 2011 on the growing use of social media by emergency managers. Meeting notes from the event will be posted soon in the Make America Safer through Social Media community.
  • Members of the Wildland Fire community are sharing examples of geographic information system (GIS) mapping during wildfire incidents. Do you have any experience that you can contribute? Check out the Wildland Fire community wall today and share!
  • The AgroSecurity and Rural Readiness community has just launched. This new community is focused on the resilience of both agriculture and rural communities that are agriculture-dependent. Members discuss the challenges of preparedness and response to natural, accidental and man-made incidents that could threaten the viability of life, infrastructure and the production of crucial food and fiber needed for local and national security."

For more information, or to join, go here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

LightSquared Turns Into a Political Dog-Fight

For those just tuning into the situation, here’s the snap-shot:
In one corner is a company called LightSquared, backed by Northern Minnesota rags-to-riches billionaire Phillip Falcone.  In the other corner is the entire GPS industry.  LightSquared is seeking to enter the nation-wide broadband market by installing 40,000 base stations that will relay LightSquared’s satellite-earth signal.   The problem is the frequency range allocated to LightSquared by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is adjacent to the spectrum used by GPS, and tests have shown there are serious GPS interference issues.  Consequently, the GPS industry and many user community heavy-hitters are more than a little upset.  In its defense, LightSquared has claimed the interference issue is a GPS industry problem caused by commercial GPS companies manufacturing “sloppy” systems that have been using part of LightSquared’s spectrum for years.   GPS manufacturers have responded by saying both LightSquared and the FCC are to blame.  LightSquared because it fundamentally changed the design of its system by adding the 40,000 base stations after it was allocated the spectrum next to GPS, and the FCC because it granted LightSquared a conditional approval to proceed in January 2011 even though basic physics clearly indicated the LightSquared implementation plan would seriously degrade GPS.  
After a 90-day period of testing mandated by the conditional approval confirmed interference was a major issue – LightSquared submitted a “new” plan in late June that critics claim has the same fundamental problem with physics – it won’t work without degrading GPS.  Congress subsequently became interested in the situation and commenced a series of hearings in early September.  On this past Friday, it turned politically ugly.   
The crux of the matter is the testimony of four-star General William Shelton, the head of the Department of Defense’s U.S. Space Command.   While some news organizations were telling a story focused on reports that Shelton had been asked by the White House to alter his testimony to be softer on the LightSquared proposal, others were saying the situation was a politically motivated  attack on the President by a Republican controlled Congress.
From General Shelton’s testimony, here are some of the snippets of what’s got everybody in a huff:
The background:

  • “…The innovative uses of GPS are also interwoven into a wide array of civil and commercial sector applications. Examples include the aviation community, where GPS is used by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help control our national airspace. GPS is used by the Department of Homeland Security for National border and maritime security. First responders, such as law enforcement, medical emergency and firefighting crews, depend on GPS for easy and accurate ground navigation allowing quick responses to time-urgent events. Activities such as mining, surveying, shipping, banking, and telecommunications rely on GPS’s PNT services as well. As a Nation, we have invested roughly $34 billion to field and operate the GPS constellation. Clearly, it has become a global utility serving a worldwide user population.
  • As the Department of Defense’s experts on GPS, AFSPC participated in recent testing to determine the effects, if any, of the originally planned LightSquared broadband service on the continued availability and reliability of GPS…”

Now for some of the findings as reported by General Shelton:
  • “..Based on the LSQ-provided deployment plan in urban areas, the typical user likely will be no more than 400 meters from a LSQ tower. The analysis showed that some GPS receivers could encounter signal reception interference at distances of several kilometers from a LSQ tower; therefore, the analysis concluded interference would be particularly acute in urban environments…
  • “…Aviation receivers operating as far as 7.5 miles from LightSquared transmitters completely lost GPS and were degraded out to distances of more than 16.5 miles. For two representative receivers tested by the FAA, results also showed GPS would be completely unusable for an aircraft 500 feet above the ground in an area spanning Stafford, Virginia through Washington and Baltimore, and out to Frederick, Maryland.
  • High precision GPS receivers such as those used for surveying and geological study requiring precise measurements were adversely affected out to 213 miles and totally lost GPS out to 4.8 miles.
  • Based on testing performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a class of receivers used in space to conduct certain types of atmospheric measurements would be unusable up to 12% of the time while in their typical orbits.
  • The State of New Mexico E-911 Program Director, who sent several GPS-equipped emergency and police vehicles to the test, stated in a letter to AFSPC that their equipment showed “the LightSquared network will cause interference to GPS signals and jeopardize 911 and public safety....”
  • “…A conclusion in the LSQ recommendations paper is that interference “is because legacy GPS receivers do not adequately reject transmissions from base stations operating in the adjacent frequency band because the GPS receivers have been deliberately or, sometimes, inadvertently, designed or manufactured with the assumption that there would be no adjacent-band terrestrial transmissions.” In fact, GPS receivers were quite purposefully designed to operate in a portion of the radio frequency spectrum deliberately maintained as a “quiet neighborhood,” with neighboring frequencies primarily occupied by signals of comparable power levels, all based on the widely accepted understanding of previous FCC rules and intent. The proposed LightSquared transmitters will produce received signal strengths five billion times stronger than the GPS received signal…”
For the full testimony of General Shelton and others before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, September 15th, go here.  That same day, the legal staff at LightSquared fired back at the Shelton testimony with a four-page rebuttal that you will find here.
Clearly, while there is a wide difference of opinion as to who is to blame for this situation – particularly since it has started to digress into political wrangling - one thing is certain.  GPS as we know it is at risk.  Indeed, this may be the single most important issue to come before the geospatial and/or emergency services communities in many years, yet many individuals seem to be either unaware or too lazy to even learn basic facts.  
I would most strongly encourage you to not be one of those types on an issue this important to your respective community.  In my opinion, the only way you can do that is by seeing political and related posturing for what it is, and instead focus your attention on the scientific facts as presented by experts.  You can do that by reviewing information as found on the following sites:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pagami Creek Fire 2011

As many of you are aware, the Pagami Creek fire that has been burning in Northern Minnesota for the past month or so has now grown to become an incident of historic proportions for Minnesota (100,000 acres).  To understand this situation, the single best consolidated site for current maps, information and follow on links is located here:

In addition, the following additional sites may be worth considering:

Prayers and thoughts go out to those who continue to be in harm's way while dealing with the largest wildfire in Minnesota since 1918.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Makes Me Cry - NIMS Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel

On Friday, September 2, 2011, FEMA announced release of the "NIMS Guideline for the Credentialing of Personnel".  Huge kudos go out to FEMA for this effort to uniformly identify the core competencies for personnel in the response communities.  Go here.

In essence, this effort is about ensuring the body you "order" to help you out in a crisis, has the qualifications to do the job.  Clearly, this effort is needed to ensure taxpayer money is properly spent and effective response efforts are delivered in a timely way.

So why am I crying?  Because the powers to be forgot the geospatial community.  Indeed, unlike the wildfire community that lives in the Department of the Interior, FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security has yet to truly come to grips with the reality that GIS is no longer about creating electronic versions of maps (something any GIS tech worth their salt can do), but rather about the ability to deliver situational awareness within the emergency preparedness and response framework.  For example - with regard to the NIMS Incident Resource Inventory System (IRIS), where does FEMA say its headed?  How about in FEMA's own words: "Future system functionality will assist in placing and mobilizing resource requests, GPS tracking of resources, and resource recovery."  To me, sure sounds like geospatial is at the core of that management system.  Or, how about all those references in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) about the importance of developing a Common Operating Picture (COP) to manage a response - right down to the local level?  Like here (page 23), and here (page 32).  Sounds like geospatial visualization to me.  Yet, unlike other individuals involved in the deliver of emergency services like police and search and rescue personnel, FEMA has not issued any guidance concerning the competency in this critical category of personnel beyond some thinly worded FEMA Task Books: Employee Job Aids designed to support its own internal needs.

So what's the solution?  Try this -the EPC developed Geospatial Emergency Management Specialist (GEMS) training program.  It's not perfect, but its a start - and that would be a good thing for FEMA to do on this issue.

Friday, September 16, 2011

FEMA Announces HAZUS/GIS Training Dates for Second Half FY 2012

On September 14, 2011, the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) released its course schedule for the second half of Federal Fiscal Year 2012 (April-September 2012).  Listed below are the opportunities to attend HAZUS training during that period of time.  Unless otherwise noted, all courses are conducted in Emmitsburg, MD with all costs except meals covered by FEMA/EMI.  Courses typically fill quickly, so register early if you want to attend.  For more information on other related learning opportunities, or to see the entire range of EMI course offerings, go here.

April 2-5:                E313 Basic HAZUS-MH                 

April 23-26:             E176 HAZUS-MH for NFIP

April 25-28:             E170 HAZUS-MH for Hurricane (Noble Training Center)

April 30-May 3:        E190 ArcGIS for Emergency Managers

May 3-5:                  L317 Comprehensive Data Management for HAZUS-MH (Indianapolis, IN)

May 10-12:              L313 Basic HAZUS-MH

June 18-21:             E317 Comprehensive Data Management for HAZUS-MH

June 21-23:             L190 ArcGIS for Emergency Managers (Valparaiso, IN)

July 11-14:              E172 HAZUS-MH for Flood (Noble Training Center)        

July 16-19:              E172 HAZUS-MH for Flood   

August 6-9:             E176 HAZUS-MH for NFIP

August 20-23:          E313 Basic HAZUS-MH

September 12-15:     E296 Application of HAZUS-MH for Risk Assessment (Noble Training Center)

September 13-15:     L313 Basic HAZUS-MH (San Juan, PR)

September 13-15:     L313 Basic HAZUS-MH (Boston, MA)

September 17-20:     E296 Application of HAZUS-MH for Risk Assessment

September 19-22:     E313 Basic HAZUS-MH (Noble Training Center)

September 27-29:     L172 Advanced HAZUS-MH for Flood (Seattle, WA)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Social Media and Emergency Management

In conventional emergency management circles there is becoming growing interest in how to tap into the awareness capabilities of social media.  An article that highlights this point was recently published as part of the GITA Thought Leader series.  Go here to read the article by Emergency Management and Homeland Security consultant, Eric Holdeman.

Meanwhile, unconventional response organizations like Crisis Mappers, Sahana and even OpenStreetMap continue to explore ways to leverage the technology as the core of their existence.  Clearly, the conventional and unconventional worlds of Emergency Management are on a path of convergence.

In total, one of the best series of articles about this issue was published late last year in the "Burning Issues" newsletter.  Go here for an excellent read.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Imagery and Maps From 9/11

Recently, to commemorate the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., Directions Magazine published a compendium of links to geospatial data related to the event.  A review of those links suggests there are two that may be especially useful to those interested in imagery and maps from 9/11.  They are:

GIS Community: A Response to Terrorist Attack
A master listing assembled by Directions Magazine.

Witness and Response
A collection of LiDAR, thermal imagery and aerial imagery assembled by the Library of Congress.

The full article as published in Directions Magazine is located here.

Comment: One of the GIS stories of the 9/11 response in New York that few know involves Minnesota.  Years before 9/11, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had developed a mobile mapping trailer known as the "Mapmobile" as a way of bringing GIS into the field where it could be of most value to the wildfire response community.  When 9/11 occurred, the head of the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) effort for the Twin Towers, Bruce Pfaff, knew of the capability and requested its deployment.  Upon its arrival in New York City a few days after the attacks, the Mapmobile became the USAR situational awareness hub as Mapmobile staff continuously generated updated search and rescue maps for all parts of the collapsed structures.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Congressional Hearings on LightSquared Interference with GPS

During a hearing held on September 8th, 2011, U.S. Government officials delivered testimony before the House Sceince, Space, and Technology Committee.  The hearing focused on the scientific impacts of potential GPS interference from the terrestrial 4G network planned by LightSquared Subsidiary LLC.

Comment: This is clearly an issue worth dialing into if you haven't already.  I would encourage you to read the testimony and make a decision for yourself as to the way forward to resolve this situation.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Supreme Court to Hear GPS Tracking Case

To read the article from the New York Times, click the link below:

U.S.   | September 11, 2011 
Court Case Asks if 'Big Brother' Is Spelled GPS
In November, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on a case about GPS surveillance that had some judges alluding to Orwell's "1984."

Comment: Like it or not, the geospatial industry is in the cross-hairs of privacy advocates.  And to be certain, just like there are laws to protect many other elements of personal data, there will need to defined parameters for personal information related to location.  The hope then is that "reasonable man" solutions can be found that won't negatively impact the emergency services sector, such as use of 9-1-1 derived location information. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Members of the EPC will be presenting at the world's largest conference devoted to the development of Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G), this year in Denver, Colorado, September 12-16.

If you are in Denver for the event - swing by and see us!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Don't Tell My "Gamer" Son About This....

Playing into the "Convergence" theme that several geospatial thought leaders like Peter Batty espouse concerning future developments in the GIS world, find below an article from Contingency Today by Autodesk's Tracey Stone.  Here's the byline: "Building information modelling and 3D gaming technology have the potential to help emergency services teams work smarter and act faster."  Click on the link below to read the article:

Can 3D Gaming Help Disaster Response?
Comment: The concept as related in this article is once again an example of something that is technologically possible in the test environment.  The trick to making it work in reality, however, is the ability to flow data such as building floor plans ("micro GIS") from the private sector (infrastructure owner) to the public sector (response crews).  To get there, policies such high rise building ordinances need to be written so as to require building owners to submit and maintain floor plans in an electronically enabled geospatial format that is always readily available to response crews.  While an ordinance such as that would appear to be an additional tax on the infrastructure owner, the associated outays could be more than recovered by reduced insurance costs (credit for a more effective response capability).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Smart Grids and Disasters

At its core, a smart grid amounts to a semi-automated Common Operating Picture that allows a utility to quickly and efficiently respond to needs within the grid it controls.  As such, the growing implementation of this technology will yield a better ability to respond to disasters in the future.  For further thought on this point, click on the link below:

Smart Grids Could Reduce Impact of Hurricanes Like Irene
By Boyd Cohen | August 28th, 2011

Central HAZUS Users Group Teleconference - Today: 1:00 CDT

HAZUS-MH Central HAZUS Users Group (CHUG) Teleconference is Today: 

Friday, September 9
1:00-2:00 PM CT
Phone: 1-800-320-4330
PIN: 521468
To get on the info list for future events, contact:

Kevin Mickey
The Polis Center

Comment:  In an effort to help develop better statewide understanding of FEMA's HAZUS-MH program, the EPC is sponsoring the startup of a Minnesota HAZUS User Group.  If you have interest in learning how you can use HAZUS-MH to help your community or place of business effectively plan for, and potentially respond to, several types of major disasters, please contact Kitty Hurley, GIS Specialist at, (763) 493-8196, or Joella Givens at, (651) 234-7365.  For more information, see also Kitty's HAZUS presentation from the June 9th, 2011, EPC quarterly meeting.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Highlights: Today's Quarterly EPC Meeting

Highlights for today’s Quarterly EPC Meeting (all times CDT):

2:00-2:55: Administrative Meeting,

2:56-3:15:  Joella Givens -  InfraGard’s award winning Public/Private Coordination and Action Team (P2CAT) effort – and how GIS can help this effort,

3:30-3:45:  Steve Swazee - Twin Cities Geospatially Enabling Community Collaboration (GECCo) as sponsored by GITA and the Department of Homeland Security, and

3:46-4:30:  Nash Pherson, Lion Templin, and Paul Pieper - Civil Air Patrol's considerable capabilities to support your disaster planning and response efforts.  They’ll be talking ARGUS, ARCHER and other cool stuff!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

ICTW Launches Website

The Interstate Chemical Threats Workgroup (ICTW) has been publishing a resource filled monthly newsletter for many years.  An example of that effort was previously noted on this blog - click here.  As mentioned in that post, the ICTW was working to shift its delivery to a website format.  That website is now open.  The official announcement can be found below:

“After many months of hard work, we’re pleased to announce that our website is ready!  The site has a public page for non-members and a password-protected member site  All current members will be receiving an email from with instructions for logging on.

Here are some of the features from the September 2011 newsletter:
  • View each section of the monthly newsletter by looking under “Newsletter Sections” on the left column.
  • Download the newsletter by going to “Archived Newsletters by Month & Year” on the left column.
  • Check out the upcoming Fall Webinar Series entitled “Effective Policies to Eliminate Chemical Releases and Exposures in Schools" by clicking on the “Webinars & Trainings” tab at the top of the page. 
  • Read an MMWR report about chemical incidents in schools by going to the “Feature Articles” section on the left column.
The tremendous amount of information and resources generated by ICTW members throughout the years is now available to all of you in one place.  Our new site allows you to interact with other members by providing space for comments, and the ability for you to upload documents and links to share with others.

For those of you wanting to have a virtual tour of the site, you may view and listen to a webinar recently given to staff here at CDPH:

Comment: Whether it is a radiological, biological or chemical release, GIS generated plume modeling is absolutely essential for understanding and shaping a response to a disaster riding on the wind.  So keep these folks in mind if you want to plus up your knowledge about the world of chemicals.   

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

GITA and NAPSG Announce Partnership

Effective September 2, 2011, the Geospatial Information and Technology Association (GITA) and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS (NAPSG) have agreed to, "a partnership to design, develop and conduct educational events to raise awareness of the use of geospatial technologies in the public safety/emergency response sectors and to provide first responders and others with enhanced capabilities for applying geospatial information technologies to emergency/disaster planning, mitigation, response, and recovery."  The first co-sponored event will have GITA contributing to NAPSG’s 2011 East Coast Public Safety GIS Summit, scheduled for November 3-4 in Washington, DC.  Read more.

Comment: This appears to be a truly great development when it comes to the delivery of geospatial technology education and the emergency services sector.

NAPSG got its start in the early 2000's through an ESRI sponsored corporate effort that changed into a nonprofit entity in the recent past.  With that change, an influx of public service connections lead to NASPG becoming an entity primarily focused on delivery of geospatial awareness to the emergency services sector.  GITA on the other hand, was stood up over 25 years ago as a nonprofit educational entity supporting use of geospatial technology in the utility sector.  Based on need in that sector post 9/11, came their efforts to deliver emergency services sector awareness to the geospatial community.  Consequently, the synergy of a combined effort going forward would appear to be significant. 

Disclaimer: Members of the EPC have worked closely with GITA on the delivery of their efforts:

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Not Just Your Imagination

Seems like we have had more than our share of trouble this year - doesn't it?  Well, it's not just your imagination.  Click on the link below to read an article by the Associated Press that brings the issue into focus:

Sep 3, 8:50 AM EDT

Comment: The drain on FEMA's disaster assistance account has been so bad that political wrangling has commenced.  Read more.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Technology, Geography, Afghanistan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

FEMA's Responder Knowledge Base - Highlights the U.S. National Grid

Front page, bottom center, on FEMA's Responder Knowledge Base, you'll find a short, to the point article on the value of the U.S. National Grid.  Thank you FEMA for the reminder that there is a better way to do business!   (While you are there - sign up for a Responder Knowledge Base account so you can gain access to all the great information and insights behind the electronic curtain.)

Treasure Hunt:  If you click to read the full article, see if you can find the way right back here without using your browser's back button......... 

Friday, September 2, 2011


If you don’t know what television looks like in black and white, you won’t get the “old-timers” joke – so give it up.

Anyway - next Thursday, September 8th – it’s a double header:

Event One:

Title: Tools to Develop & Use GIS Concept of Operations and SOGs in Your Public Safety Agency
Date: Thursday, September 8 (and 16)
Time: 1:00 pm - 2:00pm CDT

Cost: Free 

The National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the National States Geographic Information Council, and the US Department of Homeland Security - are co-hosting a webcast training to provide public safety & emergency services personnel and GIS/IT professionals with training on how to use the DHS Geospatial Concept of Operations (GeoCONOPs) and NAPSG's Standard Operating Guidance to advance coordination with GIS in your public safety agency(s).  This event is open to State and local government and is seen as a potential tool to assist in geospatial coordination between all levels of government. 

Given the recent events this spring/summer (wild fires, tornadoes, earth quakes and hurricanes) we’d recommend that State GIS Coordinators, Emergency Managers and GIS professionals supporting Emergency Management/Homeland Security attend. 

Space is Limited - Be sure to Register as soon as possible to participate.  If this link doesn’t work, cut and paste the following:

Event Two:

Title: MnGeo Emergency Preparedness Committee Quarterly Meeting
Date: Thursday, September 8
Time: 2:00 pm - 4:30pm CDT

Cost: Free (I mean, really, who would pay for this?)

Details, including registration and online access information, can be found by using the appropriate link in the right sidebar, or by going here:  

Psssssssst:  If your boss won’t allow you to spend the entire afternoon sitting in on online events – my unbiased vote would be for event number “2”!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September HIFLD Meeting Information Released

Find below information as announced by the HIFLD Working Group.  Draft agenda is available here.

The upcoming 13-14 September 2011 HIFLD Working Group meeting will be hosted by US Geological Survey (USGS) in Reston, VA.

The purpose of this meeting is to focus on Remote Sensing, LiDAR, Imagery and Enhanced Elevation Data for the Nation. Additionally, the further identification, acquisition and use of common geospatial infrastructure data and applications for shared use among HIFLD WG members.

Registration and logistics information can be found on the HIFLD Website,

If you have any questions regarding the 13-14 Sep 2011 HIFLD Working Group meeting, please contact Casey Perry at 703.377.9684/757.532.8252 (e-mail address: or