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ESRI Provides Around-the-Clock Support for Oil Spill Disaster

May 11, 2010
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ESRI is providing a number of support activities for the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is also providing support and services through its disaster response Web site, which includes continuously updated maps, data, and applications as well as links to incident sites and related Web pages.



Redlands, California-May 11, 2010-ESRI is providing a number of support activities for the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Working closely with dozens of agencies and the geographic information system (GIS) community, ESRI has deployed its disaster response team to provide assistance to users in local, state, and federal government agencies as well as the private sector. The team is supplying software, technical support, GIS data, and personnel.

ESRI is also providing support and services through its disaster response Web site. Resources available include continuously updated maps, data, and applications as well as links to incident sites and related Web pages. As part of the site, ESRI launched an interactive map application that allows users to add points with links to online photos, Web sites, and YouTube videos. Visitors can add current information to the map and increase everyone's awareness of activities related to this tragic event.

In addition, ESRI deployed an ArcGIS Online group that includes maps, data, Web services, and applications related to the oil spill. The content is being published by ESRI and other organizations to support response and mitigation requirements. The group currently features the following types of content:
  • Applications: ESRI Web mapping applications that combine ESRI maps with other types of information
  • Services: Links to ArcGIS services directories with relevant data
  • Data and maps: Links to downloadable data, maps, and layer packages
Some of the ArcGIS content and services include an oil spill plume trajectory, an environmental sensitivity index map, and electronic navigation charts.

"This is a complicated event that will be difficult to manage," says Russ Johnson, director of public safety solutions for ESRI. "There are multiple agencies working around the clock to effectively respond. We're providing online maps and services to get relevant information quickly to people. We're also deploying our disaster response team to work hand in hand with our user community to provide them with whatever GIS resources they require."

First responders, government officials, environmental experts, and others, use GIS to monitor oil spill flow and identify potential impacts to natural resources. GIS analysis and data help response agencies collaborate by increasing their situational awareness to support command and control. As the event unfolds, agencies will be able to make better decisions to manage its repercussions. GIS is a technology that supports incident management efforts through delivery of current and accurate information using a powerful common operating picture.

According to Brent Jones, PE, PLS, global marketing manager for Survey/Cadastre/Engineering at ESRI, surveyors involved in the cleanup effort also have access to the new Multipurpose Marine Cadastre from the Minerals Management Service (MMS) and NOAA. “This GIS system provides a dynamic as well as a tiled-and-cached web service system to access offshore data,” he explains.

New data added to the system include habitat and biodiversity layers, marine eco-regions, Federal agency regions, and regional ocean boundaries. Data fact sheets are available for each dataset for proper use of the data. “Access to these data in a simple, easy-to-use Web mapping system ensures that everyone involved is using accurate data.” Jones says. He also recommends another tool: the Florida Geospatial Assessment Tool for Operations and Response (GATOR). The GATOR system provides a common operating picture and includes the location of emergency services.

“These are just some of the tools and data that ESRI’s Disaster Response Team posts for everyone to use,” Jones says. “These tools are simple, free, and provide the availability for surveyors and other users to post data, video, pictures, and other types of data that can be shared with other responders.”


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Editor's note: If your firm is involved in surveying and mapping efforts related to the oil spill, POB wants to hear from you. Please e-mail pobeditor@bnpmedia.com to share your story.

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