Effective response to a disaster depends on quickly synthesizing actionable information and disseminating that information to responders in the field. GIS is frequently used to assemble the "big picture" in a disaster. Among other things, it is essential for a GIS system to help decision makers understand where first responder resources are located and where help is needed.
This week, we also focused attention on another challenge for GIS in response situations. Quite often, a significant disaster will destroy the infrastructure that had been designed to support emergency management. We learned about how an ad hoc system was developed in New York after 9/11. One way of avoiding this kind of problem is to distribute the emergency management GIS system through a local network or via the Internet where it can be accessed from multiple entry points. This type of GIS solution makes it less important that all emergency management personnel are in the same place.
Up to this point, we have covered mitigation, preparedness, and response topics for emergency management GIS. In the next lesson, we will move on to the final stage of emergency management and explore how GIS is used in longer-term recovery efforts to rebuild disaster areas.
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