Initiative addresses interoperability challenges in disaster planning.

How can emergency managers and planners improve their ability to access critical data needed to deal with natural hazards? The Open GIS Consortium's (OGC) Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative Phase 1 (MMI-1) is tackling just that question in preparation for a public demonstration on March 29, 2002. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the initiative will develop and test an interoperable, standards based framework for the discovery and distribution of multi-hazard map data between federal, state, and local emergency management agencies.

Natural hazard maps and the base maps they depend upon are developed at all levels of government and in the private sector for a variety of purposes. Information sharing is hampered by the diversity of geographic information systems in use across organizations for hazard mapping. The MMI initiative will demonstrate how the Internet can be used as a medium to locate, retrieve and exploit multi-hazard map data from many different organizations regardless geographic location, the computing platform or software solution being used. This pilot will become an operational part of the OGC Network in April 2002. OGC members participating in this initiative include CubeWerx, Compusult, SAIC, ESRI, Harvard Design and Mapping (HDM) and MapInfo.

The Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative demonstration will involve two fictional use cases, each focusing on different types of hazards. One scenario, based in California, uses for illustrative purposes the development of a 20-year land use plan. By combining information about land use, population, transportation and hazards data (including earthquake susceptibility, historical data on faults, tsunamis, and wildfires), the planner can evaluate where exposure to natural hazards might warrant further evaluation in the planning process.

The second scenario, located in North Carolina, will demonstrate the use of multi-hazard advisory maps to provide better information for a hurricane response plan for a three county region. A variety of geospatial data sets will be rapidly accessed from different organizations and combined with other critical information via the Internet to produce the maps. The demonstration will call upon data such as historic storm paths, flood maps, roads, hazard probability maps, and demographic information.