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Friday, February 15, 2008

Tallahassee-Leon County GIS Rolls Out First Phase of Incident Management System

Tallahassee-Leon County GIS (TLC GIS), a partnership program between the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, and the Leon County Property Appraiser's Office in Florida, recently rolled out the first phase of an ESRI ArcGIS Server technology-based incident management system known as the Emergency Operations Center Incident Mapper (EOC Incident Mapper). Released as part of a phased rollout, the system complements existing communication networks in organizing, analyzing, and displaying GIS information in an easy-to-understand "big picture" format. It supplies electronic display of disaster activities in real time and, once in full deployment, will support all phases of the disaster management cycle including preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery.

"The GIS technology has allowed us the opportunity to do things we have always wanted to do with the resources that we currently possess," says Lee N. Hartsfield, Tallahassee-Leon County GIS coordinator, Leon County, Florida. "We see it as a visual aid for Emergency Operations Center staff during a large-scale emergency or disaster. We tested the system in numerous exercises, allowing us to refine the input and outputs. The system will be used for all types of hazards including tornadoes, floods, weapons of mass destruction, law enforcement operations, and quarantines."

An Enterprise Incident Management System

The EOC Incident Mapper was built using ArcGIS Server 9.2 and ArcGIS Network Analyst. The ESRI Professional Services Group provided on-site consulting work as part of the implementation. In addition, the county developed a viewer in ArcIMS for nonessential staff to view nonsensitive information during an event. The incident mapping system is still in the final phases of deployment, which includes end-user evaluation and testing. In addition, the TLC GIS staff is working to complete a system user guide.

The system organizes data and events into three basic categories: emergency service points, point events, and area events. It allows real-time interaction for managing resource and personnel allocation, placement, and routing.

Emergency service points include facilities and apparatus that may be open, closed, or placed on standby. This includes items such as Red Cross shelters, sandbag distribution points, and work crew feeding sites. Typically, these were tracked separately by different agencies.

Point events are incidents such as a fire, hazardous chemical spill, or similar type of disaster confined to a specific location. The incident management system provides National Incident Management System (NIMS)-compliant symbology for the command center, staging areas, incident base camps, helibase, and heliport. Using aerial photography, either through the Incident Mapper at the EOC or with a mobile application on a laptop, staff can quickly determine the optimal location for each of these facilities. Their locations can then be communicated to everyone involved in response over the Internet or over a secured intranet site.

An area event includes both man-made emergencies and natural disasters that impact more than one location or a series of locations within the county. The system can quickly adapt from a point event to an area event as the geographic impacts broaden in scope and effect. Users can track several common incidents that may occur simultaneously. This includes automobile accidents, downed trees, downed power lines, power outages, flooding, and quarantined areas. The common incidents also carry a status that indicates open, assigned, or closed; it can identify whether traffic flow is blocked or impeded. The system makes it easy for users to quickly respond to changing conditions and new information, providing emergency managers with a real-time view of the critical information.

The system will be available to any agency within Leon County and the City of Tallahassee. It will maintain 45 spatial data layers including roads, parcels, hospitals, airports, and multifamily complexes with a hot link to building and site layout. It will also include a population density grid, areas of potential flooding, hazardous materials sites, evacuation routes, locations of at-risk individuals (individuals who may require special assistance during an evacuation due to a medical condition), traffic light status, aerial imagery, critical facilities, and more.

Press Release - ESRI
Copyright 2008 ESRI