GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

Reading Assignment and Live Discussion


The readings this week continue our focus on preparedness. You will read a chapter in your textbook that covers some of the broader issues around GIS and disaster preparedness, continuing some of the themes we've been covering. Next, you will consider a journal article that takes a (very) deep dive into emergency building evacuation modeling. This paper is challenging but has a lot of useful information even if the technical bits are too much! 

I like to remind students that, as you read, it is important to read critically and not necessarily accept what you read at face value, even if it appears in a peer-reviewed journal. Many of the course assignments are aimed at helping you build the skills to assess published reports on geospatial technology objectively and critically. There are multiple perspectives from which to critically assess what you read. No papers can cover all issues and no author is all-knowing; thus, it is likely that you know something relevant that the author does not (or that he/she did not consider relevant, but that is relevant from your perspective). Methods of data processing and analysis that might be acceptable in one discipline may be at odds with established methods in another discipline, so you will find disagreement among authors about what methods are “right.” People make mistakes (in their original conceptualization of a problem, in carrying out work, and in interpreting the results) – and your practical experience and/or solid grounding in geospatial analysis may give you special insight to identify these mistakes. In many cases, the authors may have limited practical knowledge, thus, they may completely ignore issues that are critical in a real world context.


From "GIS for Disaster Management": Chapter 6 - "Geographic Information Systems and Disaster Planning and Preparedness". See Library Resources in Canvas for the electronic version.

These chapters focuses on the various ways preparation can be characterized in the context of GIS, as well as some of the key methods by which geospatial tools can be used to support near-term preparation when we know a disaster is about to strike.

Think about

What are some of the specific ways in which preparedness is different from mitigation? You might consider this from the perspective presented by text author or (more interestingly) from the perspective of a GIS manager in a state Emergency Operations Center, from the perspective of a local regional government deciding whether to invest in GIS, or from the point of view of a citizen who expects service from their government. How might GIS activities to support preparedness differ for different kinds of emergencies – what are examples of different kinds of emergencies in which preparedness activities would differ?


Bo Li and Ali Mostafavi 2022. Location intelligence reveals the extent, timing, and spatial variation of hurricane preparedness. Scientific Reports 12:16121. (PDF version)  

This paper examines preparedness for hurricanes based on geospatial data and anlaysis


Are there other data and technologies that could be brought to bear on the problem of disaster prepartedness? How might the authors’ work be applied in other emergency situations e.g., fire, flood? Note, you will provide a written critique of this article following on the live discussion - details to follow! 


  • This week, you will be participating in a "live discussion" with some of your classmates and me! So, no written posts are required! The meeting will last one hour. 
  • We will focus on the Lochhead and Hedley paper, so come to the discussion with any points or questions you would like to raise. 
  • I will send out a Doodle poll so we can fined some times that will work for everyone. We will meet in small(ish) groups so everyone can participate. 
  • Note: You will also do a short writing assignment that will critique this article as well. This will give you a chance to reflect on what comes out of the live discussion. 

Grading Criteria

This discussion will be graded out of 15 points - pretty easy this week! Just show up and share your thoughts.