GEOG 588
Planning GIS for Emergency Management

Reading Assignment


How Reading Assignments Work

For each lesson, I will ask you to read parts of your textbooks, online materials I select, or articles I've found. As you can see below, I'll try to make it as clear as possible what you're expected to do by always identifying specific reading assignments in a separate box.

Part of your class participation grade will be making responses on our discussion board to questions I pose about the readings. Whenever you see a Respond prompt, you need to respond to that question as directed. Occasionally, I'll mark items Think about when I simply want to direct your thoughts as you read. You can trust me to control your brain. I'm an expert.

Lesson 1 Reading Assignment

For our first set of readings, we will focus on setting the stage for the rest of the lessons this term. First, I'd like you to read two different white papers developed by folks at Esri. These provide a simple overview of the common terms and topics associated with GIS for Emergency Management, and they show you how the GIS goliath perceives the role of geospatial tools and methods in the context of Emergency Management. You just read a bit about how FEMA sees the state of affairs, and I think you'll notice some key similarities (and differences) in how the world is viewed from those two perspectives.

Second, I've selected a chapter from a National Academies of Science report written in 2007 that sets a research agenda for GIS in Emergency Management. The chapter I've picked for this week focuses on how GIS was or could have been used in a few different disaster scenarios.

Finally, I'd like you to start reading Style for Students to begin thinking critically about your writing habits. You'll be doing a fair bit of writing in this class and if you're a bit rusty on those skills, this resource is a great one to review.

  1. Read: ESRI White Paper on GIS for Emergency Management which outlines how Esri sees a role for ArcGIS in Emergency Management (in 2012), and a much older (2000) white paper on key terms and definitions relevant to GIS and Emergency Management.


    These white papers present definitions and roles for GIS in the context of Emergency Management. They also reflect the view from a major software vendor into this field. As you peruse these documents, think about which aspects seem software-specific vs. those that appear to be more general to all geospatial applications in emergency management. How would you define roles differently, or broaden some of their definitions?
  2. Read:"Chapter 2: Thinking About Worst Cases" from Successful Response Starts With a Map: Improving Geospatial Support for Disaster Management. (It's easy to register and download this as a PDF too, if you so desire).


    As you read the three different worst case scenarios, it should be apparent that a key challenge is simply developing a rapid picture of the spatial extent of a disaster. If you assume that a given disaster will disable local EOCs and their accompanying geospatial tools and data, describe at least two ways that emergency managers brought in from afield could quickly assemble data that describes the extent of the disaster. Post your ideas. Then respond to a different post with constructive comments or criticism.

    NOTE: Respond to this assignment in the Lesson 1 Reading Discussion Forum in Canvas.

  3. This class is writing intensive. I'll be editing and commenting on your written work throughout the term. Penn State's Style for Students guide can be a huge help if it's been a while since you've written for a course like this.

    Read: "Chapter 1: Improving Your Style"