Federal, state and local agencies are invited to participate in further development and growth of this information-sharing framework.

The Open GIS Consortium Inc. (OGC) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) working with OGC and industry partners, has developed and made operational a technology framework for the sharing of geographic data related to natural hazards. OGC's FEMA-sponsored Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative Phase 1 (MMI-1) concluded with a successful demonstration on May 9, 2002 of a standards-based framework for discovery, access, and distribution of multi-hazard map data. Federal, state and local agencies are now invited to participate in further development and growth of this information-sharing framework.

Until now, the diversity and non-interoperability of geographic information systems has hampered data sharing. Now the Internet can be used as a medium to locate, retrieve and exploit multi-hazard map data from many different organizations, regardless of their software vendor. One MMI-1 demonstration scenario depicted development of a land use plan combining multi-source information about land use, population, transportation, earthquake susceptibility, historical data on faults, tsunamis, and wildfires. The second scenario demonstrated how flood maps and maps of roads, hazard probabilities, demographics and historic storm paths could be rapidly accessed from different organizations to aid hurricane response efforts.

Geospatial technology providers CubeWerx, Compusult, ESRI, Harvard Design and Mapping (HDM), IONIC, MapInfo and SAIC engaged in the consensus-based development and testing of this legacy-compatible interoperability framework. FEMA's online HazardMaps resource represents one of the technologies resulting from the MMI initiative. It can be viewed at www.hazardmaps.gov.

FEMA invites state, local and federal agencies to partner in improving and expanding this framework. Interested agencies and constituencies are invited to apply to participate in a Community Advisory Group (CAG). Agencies can contribute data to be hosted on the HazardMaps site, or they can make their data available as an online service by means of servers that implement interfaces based on OGC's OpenGIS Specifications. To register your interest, use the "contact us" button at www.hazardmaps.gov.