Role of GIS in Emergency Management

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, September 09, 2021

Planning, analysis, and action are key to geographic information science and emergency management.

FREMONT, CA: Data-driven maps that make use of technology can be lifesavers in the aftermath of a tragedy. In disaster management, the use of Geographic Information Science (GIS) can have a huge impact on mitigating, responding to, and recovering from a significant event.

GIS technology may be used to respond to emergencies by accumulating area-specific and population-derived data. It is a type of modern mapping approach that takes into account ever-changing inputs in a given location. The following are some examples of how GIS might be used in emergency management and response:

  • Flood plains and fault lines, and fire threats are all included in the hazard mapping.
  • Detecting, tracking, and evaluating the potential for hurricanes and other storms to cause damage as they advance across the ocean and onto land.
  • In the event of an earthquake or a terrorist attack, remote sensing can be used to estimate the initial devastation of infrastructure.
  • Following an incident, tracking the position and supply levels of support and rescue personnel.
  • Creating computer-generated maps of infrastructure, such as pipelines, sewers, electricity lines, neighborhoods, and other characteristics of an area, for use in disaster preparedness, emergency response, and recovery activities.
  • Creating databases for people, corporations, structures, schools, and other entities that can be consulted in an emergency.
  • Choosing a location for emergency headquarters (police, fire, and ambulance) to provide the fastest response time to the greatest number of people.
  • Identifying residents who may be vulnerable in the event of a disaster based on their age, income, and other factors.
  • Using geographic information technology to track terrorist assaults, sabotage, and other national security risks.
  • Remote sensing is the use of sensors on planes or satellites to record phenomena like storms and incorporate that data into a geographic information system.

Emergency Management: How Can Spatial Analysis Be Used?

Planning, analysis, and action are key to GIS and emergency management. Spatial analysis, which examines patterns of human behavior in a specific location, can help in these areas. When properly applied, spatial analysis can assist emergency responders in preventing fatalities, injuries, and property damage, allowing communities to return to normalcy as fast and safely as feasible. Here are a few instances of how spatial analysis might be used in emergency response:

  • Activating rescue crews and issuing real-time alerts to a community at risk of flooding, hurricanes, or fires.
  • Tsunamis, hurricanes, chemical mishaps, oil spills, and forest fires are all models for emergency scenarios, and emergency management professionals are trained to prepare for them.
  • Using a variety of sources of data like aerial maps, census tract data, property information, land use, major thoroughfares, fire station and hospital locations, critical infrastructure, and reports of downed electrical lines, to analyze what is going on during an emergency and devise a coordinated response plan.

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