State's Emergency Operations Center will use Autodesk MapGuide to widen access to emergency and domestic security information for both the general public and emergency personnel.

Autodesk Inc. announced that Florida's State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has selected Autodesk MapGuide software to help disaster workers and the public respond to hurricanes and other disasters, either natural or man-made. The Tallahassee-based SEOC will use Autodesk MapGuide software as the backbone for various websites that offer flood maps, evacuation routes, and shelter locations, as well as homeland security websites used by law enforcement officials.

The Florida State Emergency Operations Center, managed by the state's Division of Emergency Management, provides information to state recon teams, National Guard personnel, and county agencies, who in turn provide this data to "first responders," or the emergency workers who respond to the scene of man-made or natural disasters. The SEOC is using Autodesk MapGuide software for several parts of its hurricane preparedness and homeland security initiatives. For example, Autodesk MapGuide software will help emergency workers monitor evacuation routes for flooding or debris, speeding up the process of providing information to the public in the event of a disaster.

"Before we had access to an Internet-based mapping system, emergency workers had to use paper maps - sometimes even road maps from gas stations - to reach a disaster site," said Gary Watry, GIS Coordinator for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. "Obviously, this manual method may be inaccurate and slow. The time savings we've gained from utilizing (Autodesk) MapGuide will have a direct impact on our ability to save lives and property."

Autodesk MapGuide software helps organizations develop, manage, and distribute GIS and design applications on the Internet or on intranets, broadening access to essential geographic data. Using Autodesk MapGuide software, the Florida SEOC can share information about Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood zones, emergency shelters, and other disaster services with many other local and state organizations, as well as the public. The SEOC staff can also see the relationship of important sites like hospitals, schools and fire departments to one another and to the road network, and can add map layers with contact information for these various sites. The SEOC plans to update and publish event information (hurricane paths, etc.) as they develop and provide it to the public and Emergency Staff via their Web sites. The SEOC's public Web site offers maps at http://www.floridadisaster.org.

"With (Autodesk) MapGuide, EOC workers and other emergency support staff can provide location information to first responders before they even arrive at the scene," Mr. Watry said. "We can also collect information from the first individuals on scene, add it to our mapping data, and make it available to additional emergency workers prior to their arrival on-scene."

The SEOC also plans to integrate hurricane forecast information from the National Weather Services into Autodesk MapGuide-created maps, allowing SEOC Staff to conduct predictive modeling and estimate human and property impact of disasters. Traffic counters will also be integrated into the system, allowing emergency workers to estimate how many people may be left in an affected area and need to be evacuated. The long-range goal is to allow citizens in the State of Florida to go to the Web site, type in their zip code, and have displayed for them all the warning, watches, or other information necessary for their safety in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

Autodesk solutions have been selected by many state and local governments to broaden access to GIS information. Florida's Pinellas County uses Web applications based on Autodesk MapGuide software to view and analyze information about crime trends, and collect information about floor plans to assist in homeland security planning. In the City of West Palm Beach, Autodesk MapGuide software powers a GIS Web site that helps both city workers and the public access and share information about zoning, homeland security, and emergency services. Miami International Airport also uses Autodesk technology for facilities management.

"Emergency responders require solutions that are simple, fast and accurate and Autodesk Solutions for Emergency Management have answered that call," said Chris Bradshaw, vice president for the Autodesk Infrastructure Solutions Division. "Many state, county and local governments have already recognized that the Autodesk solutions help them get quick access to valuable information."

"Government organizations, particularly those that deal with emergency management or homeland security, are discovering that Autodesk MapGuide provides fast setup and easy access for the public and other users who aren't experts in HTML or computer-aided design," said Richard Neiman, president of CADD Centers of Florida, the Autodesk reseller that supplied the SEOC with Autodesk MapGuide software. "In addition, Autodesk MapGuide doesn't require a third-party vendor for installation and maintenance, thereby containing expenses for cost-conscious local governments."