On February 8th, 2017 the NAPSG Foundation provided a virtual workshop for the Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals (MAGIP) and local search and rescue team members. While MAGIP attendees attended on-site (Bozeman, Montana), they also extended the invitation to the Public Safety GIS and SAR Community to attend via WebEx. You can watch this presentation here via WebEx video. The objective of this presentation was to foster exchange between the Geospatial Professional and Search and Rescue Communities by providing an overview of capabilities with geospatial decision support tools and building a common language. We feel we have achieved this objective. As a result of this event, the local SAR Teams and GIS Professionals plan to meet more regularly, share data, and train on using geospatial decision support tools for search operations. In addition, the audience agreed they would like to participate in future SARGIS workshops, including the 9th Annual Search and Rescue GIS Workshop (SARGIS9 - November 2017, Rocky Mountain Region).
We used the SARGIS8 Training Story Map to guide the presentation and discussion. This website includes downloadable tutorials and interactive examples to show your local SAR Team. You can access this free training resource here: http://bit.ly/BasicSARGIS
In addition, the case-study we used to kick-off the event was based on a group of photographers who were stranded in the mountains north of Bozeman, Montana. Geospatial intelligence was critical in this mission and the Story Map allows us to review the mission and learn from it. You can access this interactive Story Map here: http://arcg.is/2lmtuaC
For information about GIS for Search and Rescue and to begin developing geospatial decision support tools for your SAR Team, see the Wilderness Search and Rescue Capability and Readiness Assessment Tool (CARAT). Special thanks to Curtis DeVault of MAGIP, Angela Pervél of NAPSG Foundation, and Don Ferguson SARWG Co-chair for helping to make this event possible despite my crazy schedule and presenting remotely from New Zealand.
Here in New Zealand we have had a few especially strong wildfire events. One, the Port Hills fire burned in the wildland urban interface and led to damaged structures and evacuations. This is common in the US and Australia but much less so here in the more temperate and moisture rich islands. As such, fire and emergency management agencies are only just beginning to realize the importance of public information maps in these situations. Fortunately, Canterbury Maps, the GIS Team at Environment Canterbury were able to step in on their first day of activation and stand up a Public Information Map for the community. They did this using WebGIS via ArcGIS Online. This map is cloud-hosted and able to handle the heavy load of viewers in emergency situations. Radio New Zealand was the first to pick this map up and share authoritative information in an article and they deserve recognition as well. Well done to all involved - especially the first responders doing their best to protect lives and property.