GCN recently reported on GIS use at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In more than a few ways, disaster response has been a driving force in those efforts. Additionally, GIS is increasingly being seen as a unifying element that connects together all components of the department's operations. More below:
Comment: One of the most aggressive uses of GIS at USDA is within the Farm Service Agency's (FSA) Crop Insurance program. In order to effectively evaluate disaster claims, this FSA GIS effort must track, determine and record the exact location of weather events 24/7.
There can be little doubt that the technological prowess of China advances almost daily. Now the Chinese have set their sights on becoming some of the best emergency mappers in the world. In response to the natural disasters that often visit this Asian country, Chinese geospatial experts have been hard at work creating an approach that lives up to the idea that: "any effective disaster response starts with a map". More below:
Comment: I've seen where multiple blocks of the city of Shanghai have been transformed almost overnight. I would expect to see the Chinese do the same in the emergency response/GIS world. Love it - competition is always a good thing!
San Francisco's SF72 initiative - an online social networking and informational hub designed to help the city's citizens prepare for the first 72 hours after a major disaster - has recently been joined by a companion product which will deliver disaster situational awareness via an online map viewer. Called Crisis Mode, this real-time geospatial interface is a joint effort of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management and Google's charitable branch. As a way to promote awareness and familiarity for the public, the site has been enabled with information of value on a daily basis, such as traffic conditions and weather (use the "Layers" button in upper right corner of the map). More below:
Comment: Kudos to all involved. This effort represents a significant advancement in emergency mapping. Rather than launching a site after a disaster strikes, this approach creates awareness about where to look for disaster information by also offering a capability that has value in everyday life. Furthermore, it is significant that during a disaster, a map will become the home page of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management! I love it!
In the latest battle in the GPS Tracking War, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District on Tuesday ruled 2-1 that a warrant must be obtained before police can use a GPS tracking device for surveillance. In upholding a lower court ruling in U.S. vs Katzin, the judges noted that actions by police in this case were "highly disconcerting". Although police had been suspicious of Katzin, et al., for an extended period of time, the police failed to obtain a warrant before installing a GPS vehicle tracking device which ultimately linked the suspects to a crime scene. For additional details and insights on this development, use the links below:
Comment: Yesterday we ran a piece which highlighted concerns two prominent law enforcement officials had about the consequences of employing technology without having clearly defined laws/policy. And today, here's proof about the validity of those concerns.
Comment: No doubt gentlemen. A way forward which preserves individual freedoms in an environment where technology can provide a "personal where" at any given moment, will have to be carefully charted if law enforcement is going to have effective use of the full range of current and future crime stopping tools.
Comment: The NGP is all about empowering data users through technologies that facilitate discovery, collaboration, cooperation and sharing. In literally hundreds of ways, that capability is absolutely critical to the Emergency Services Sector's ability to effectively deploy and use "Where" solutions. So don't miss this event!
Normally, after watching the chaos in Washington, DC for the past couple of weeks, I'd be dedicating today to something along the lines of "Failed Friday". But with the Federal government inactive since October 1st, the story pipeline has pretty much dried up. So, what do you say we tackle something more meaningful - like a culinary extravaganza:
Pancake Alert!: Once upon a time in my youth I attended a pancake dinner hosted by a local Boy Scout troop. Just to make sure I got my money's worth out of the all-you-can-eat meal, I ate 29 "normal" size pancakes with syrup. When I finished I went home and laid on my bed and moaned for about five hours. Clearly, I didn't understand the financial realities of mixing batter with free labor, and paid the price. As a result, I personally don't think it's the least bit outrageous that a community would use its emergency alert system to notify the public about a pancake breakfast:
Spying Shelves: As some readers of this blog may be aware, it brothers me tremendously that potatoes have eyes. For that reason I always keep them locked up in one of my kitchen cupboards as a way to limit their surveillance capabilities. And, for the same reason, I always spend the least amount of time I can in the fruits and vegetables section of the local super market. Now, just when I thought I had a plan that would limit the prying eyes in my life, comes a sobering new reality. Shelves throughout the market will soon be watching us:
Rhino Microchip: Meanwhile, over in the Asian foods aisle, one of the patrons is asking - "HEY! What's with this tracking microchip in my Rhinoceros horn daily supplement?" Actually, the underlying reason for it being there is heaps more disgusting than finding electronic stuff in a pure "food" item could ever be:
Fast Food: You know the type. Folks who drive while they are simultaneously rocking out to the radio, puffing on a cigarette, reading whatever, eating a burger and fries, AND talking on the phone. It's called distracted driving and it's the number one reason why you could end up dead or seriously injured in auto accident. Solution? As a first step, Microsoft has found a way to solve the phone distraction issue. Which would mean burger and fries are next in line for attention:
Sausage Geography: Until recently I had no idea there was a place named Wallonia. That all changed after I heard it was where a war was being fought over sausage. Armed with that tidbit of information, I was quicklyable to surmise the general location of this place on the globe. Use the first link below to go on a tour of Wallonia, while the second link can be used to put meat on the bones of this story:
Comment: From experiences elsewhere, I have to believe Matt is spot on with problems he mentions in the article. In fact, taken together, his comments echo a core theme this site has been considering since inception - the inability of various response organizations to understand and effectively use geospatial technologies for disaster preparedness and response. We have a long way to go as a nation before this issue, won't be an issue...
More than 70 cities across the nation have installed a system which allows them to accurately pinpoint the location of gunfire in their communities. Called ShotSpotter, the system uses an array of sensitive microphones to triangulate a gun fire location. That information is then verified by a system operator, and if determined to be an actual event, mapped information is passed along to the appropriate law enforcement unit. The Miami Herald reports on the current use of this technology in South Florida at the link below:
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/14/3689427/south-florida-cops-hope-shotspotter.html#storylink=cpy
Comment: Minneapolis has had this system in place since 2006. In 2012, they laid claim to being the first city in the nation to tie together the ShotSpotter technology with the city's surveillance camera network. More below - video in the story is definitely worth watching:
A collaborative effort between the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently announced launch of a tool set that allows non-technical individuals to create disaster-relief focused Android applications. At the heart of the effort is App Inventor - open source software originally sponsored by Google. To create a new application, a user need only "snap" together color-coded components. More below:
Comments: Very cool! Congratulations go out to the original three members of the GeoMOOSE project team - Bob Basques, Jim Klassen, and Dan Little for the vision, drive, and smarts that have made GeoMOOSE possible.
In late August, the London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee issued a report that warned the Metropolitan Police (Met) had not done enough to keep up (technologically) with the times. A failure to leverage mobile handheld devices, social media, and predictive crime mapping were specifically cited. When discussing predictive crime mapping, efforts underway in Los Angeles were noted with the following statement about the technology: "it works; it is evidenced; it is professional practice". In late September, Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe followed up on the report by telling the press his force and others around the U.K. would soon be moving to predictive crime mapping as a standard practice. More below:
Predictive crime mapping doesn't work without GIS.
Crime events in Los Angeles have dropped 12-25% since the technique was applied.
If you are a Police Chief currently operating without a GIS capability, you might want to consider what's going to be the best bang for your buck next time you put in a budget request. The "on the street" manpower needed to achieve a 12-25% reduction in crime, or one good GIS operator with a computer and software?
A handful of days after Twitter announced launch of its alert system that allows vetted organizations to "push" information to subscribers during emergencies and disasters, the system got its first major test in the nation's capital. As Washington, DC police gave chase to a woman who had attempted to enter the White House grounds on October 3rd, the Senate's Sergeant at Arms used Twitter Alerts to warn politicians and staffers about developments. Links below for more:
Comment: Very cool effort by Twitter which will allow targeted distribution of information during disasters and emergencies. Unfortunately, so far only a limited number of organizations in 17 states and territories have committed to using Twitter Alerts. And, an important related issue will always be getting Emergency Services Sector (ESS) organizations to understand effective use of Twitter includes being able to use tweets from the "crowd" to help develop situational awareness. See: Trending: Social Media Use During Disasters, for more on this issue.
Last time we tried to get together on a Friday, I had to exit stage left in a hurry, only able to leave behind a few clues about what I thought would be worth yapping about. However, this week, I've found my way back to my old routine. Me blabbing at length about the insanity of it all. What do you say we start out with a repeat offender?
Jail Bird: In the "you've got to be kidding me department", here's some of what's recently been found posted on Twitter: terroristic threats, bragging about crimes, and efforts to recruit fellow criminals. Let's hope this approach to lawlessness keeps coming because it's a goldmine for putting the socially inept, criminally minded, behind bars.
Naughty GPS (Again): Those darn GPS thingies. One minute you are on a nice paved two-lane highway headed to a RV rally, and the next minute, you are on a narrow dirt logging road traveling further and further back into the Oregon wilderness. Sort of like the "Highwayman" detour trick of days-of-olde. Only thing crazier is the press believes events like this are headline news. Unfortunately, that makes me think anybody dialing a wrong telephone number will be next on the hit parade of newsworthy stories. Anyway, thank goodness the victims of this electronic deceit were found safe and well-rested:
Surf's Up: Hey dude, what's up with the rocks in my surf? Freaky as it may be, the September 24th earthquake that took the lives of more than 400 Pakistanis, left behind some brand new real estate. An island where there was only waves before. Marvel at the power of the earth in pictures found above and in the link below:
Another indicator that a rebirth of lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms is underway came on September 21 when a Navy blimp began a series of flights in vicinity of the nation's capital. Although it is currently the Navy's only blimp, the MZ-3A, "Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory", operated by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is being used to evaluate LTA potential for a variety of missions. It was reportedly sent to the region to "map" several sensitive areas. With the ability to stay on station for extended periods of time while carrying a wide range of sensors, previous deployments of the MZ-3A have included response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. More below:
Comment: As previous noted on this blog, LTA platforms are being considered, or will be used, for several missions related to homeland security/defense and disaster response. Links to those stories are offered below:
Comment: Beam me up Scotty... The personal communicator in your pocket is well on its way to becoming part of an integrated emergency response network that will support many response needs. It's all about sensors, and what you can do with them.
On Monday of last week, FEMA issued a bulletin which highlights recently enacted policy changes to its Risk Map Program. Based on input received following a public solicitation for comments back in March of this year, the stand alone policy memo issued in August includes a substantial number of changes which impact mapping standards and data use within the flood focused mapping program. As noted in the bulletin, issuance of the policy memo is only part of a multi-year effort designed to upgrade and harmonize the information resources available to communities and citizens for flood planning purposes. Bulletin and policy memo links are provided below:
Comment: If you are concerned about issues related to flooding and mapping, a review of the policy memo is worth your time. Since the the start of 2013, there have been over 100 changes to FEMA's standards. Each such item is clearly annotated in the policy memo.