GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

Overview & Checklist


Rescue workers in water up to their knees pulling a boat with people behind them.
Guardsmen provide relief during Hurricane Matthew
Credit: Staff Sgt. Jonathan Shaw, United States Air Force

In this lesson, we will focus on how geospatial perspectives and technology are used in response to emergency situations. Geospatial analysis has tremendous potential for aiding disaster response, but as you will learn, it is not easy to quickly translate geospatial data into actionable information when lives are at stake. Responders need to know where to go and how to get there, and emergency managers need to understand and react to a changing situational picture.

four stages of emergency management with Response highlighted. Other stages =  Mitigation, Preparedness, and Recovery. They are described in more detail below.
Credit: © Penn State University is licensed under 


Actions taken immediately before, during and after an event to alleviate suffering and prepare for recovery

  • Establish Situational Awareness
  • Evacuations and Shelters
  • Respond to remaining hazard
  • Search and Rescue
  • Mass Care
  • Logistics response
  • Initiate Recovery

What You Will Learn

By the successful completion of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • identify the roles that geospatial approaches and technologies can play in disaster response;
  • discuss some of the issues that geospatial analysis systems must overcome in response situations with your colleagues;
  • understand the implications of real-time mapping and spatial analytics;
  • create real-time mapping and spatial analytics dashboards.

What You Will Do

Lesson 5 is one week in length. To finish this lesson, you must complete the activities listed below.

Lesson 5 Checklist
To Read
  • Lesson content on emergency response and related geospatial approaches and technologies
  • Geographic Information Systems and Disaster Response (pp. 187-208) from Geographic Information Systems for Disaster Management.
  • FEMA Geospatial Coordination Call Slides – Situational awareness on two days during Hurricane Maria – Wednesday, September 20, 2017, and Sunday, September 24, 2017.
  • Book Chapter on Computer Networks and Emergency Management
To Do
  • Reading Discussion 
  • Real-time Mapping and Spatial Analytics exercise and discussion
  • Term Project: Continue to make progress on the first draft which will be due the end of Lesson 6

Please refer to the Course Calendar for specific due dates.


If you have questions about the content or lesson activities, please post them to the General Questions and Discussion forum in Canvas. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate. If your question is of a personal nature, please email me directly through Canvas.