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Topcon GIS Technology Used to Map Areas of Two California Fires

December 10, 2007
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Topcon Positioning Systems supplied 10 GMS-2 GIS/GPS mapping instruments to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Los Angeles County.

LIVERMORE, CA -- Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) is supplying 10 GMS-2 GIS/GPS mapping instruments to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Los Angeles County for property damage assessments and mapping of the thousands of acres burned over by the recent fire storm that hit Southern California.

TPS, headquartered in Livermore, Calif., in a partnership with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), supplied GMS-2s (geographical mapping system), spare batteries and battery chargers for accurate fire damage assessment in two major areas hit by the fires.

Additional units recently supplied to ESRI regional offices were also directed to aid in the mapping and assessment project. The GMS-2 features an integrated digital camera, enabling field personnel to collect images automatically tied to GPS locations. The units were supplied with Topcon’s Field Tools for ArcPad, an extension that provides full camera and GPS integration with ESRI’s mobile software.

More than 500,000 acres were burned over in multiple fires that ravaged Southern California in October. Several reported deaths were attributed to the fires and almost 2,000 homes were razed. The Topcon GMS-2 instruments were used to map burned acreage caused by the Canyon and Buckweed fires.

Mike Weir, director of sales-GIS with Topcon, said, “Topcon is always looking for ways to employ our technology to assist people and agencies, especially in times of emergency such as this. The hand-held, powerful and rugged GMS-2 is the ideal instrument to assess damage caused by the fires, to document the location and extent of damage with a digital photograph linked to the geographic coordinates. Data collected onsite provides emergency response agencies with the vital information needed to rapidly respond to the current situation and is the basis for future study and evaluation.”

Patrick Dolan, technical industry leader with ESRI, said, “The Topcon units help streamline the collection process, which was traditionally done on paper. By having one device to collect GPS position, take photographs, and assessment information enabled the assessment teams to gather information and disseminate it back to headquarters for quick analysis.”

Topcon’s GMS-2 is a unique device that speeds up field data collection. Typically, damage assessments involve the use of paper maps, forms, a GPS receiver, and a separate camera. With the GMS-2, all pertinent data can be recorded with one device. It eliminates the need to carry multiple items into the field, allowing emergency personnel to move about disaster scenes freely and easily.

Topcon engineers have combined dual-constellation satellite tracking and a digital camera into a compact, handheld form factor, making the GMS-2 a leading-edge solution for GIS field mapping.

GIS is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

An integrated collection of computer software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and model spatial processes. A GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed.

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