June 08, 2009
A Map For Everyone
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Industry News

A Map For Everyone

By Susan Smith

Recently Boulder, Colorado-based RedZone announced their new site licensing option (eLicensing) for their desktop and mobile software suites. RedZone's eLicensing allows customers an unrestricted number of installs within their agency or organization for one low price, regardless of the physical location where the software is used.

While site licensing options by themselves are not exactly earth shattering news, RedZone’s RZ3 “all hazard mapping software” is an interesting product that provides innovative GIS capabilities for emergency responders, who use it to collect data about damaged structures for flood or fire response.

The product was developed by GIS professionals and software developers. CEO Clark Woodward was a volunteer firefighter and is now a member of an incident management team, with firsthand knowledge of what was needed in terms of software that is easy to use. The RedZone handheld software is easy for a fire department to adopt as it doesn’t require GIS training. Their desktop software is useful for those who want to make their own maps during an incident. An ESRI Business Partner developed application, RedZone is used in over 100 departments across the U.S.

“We try to focus on the very non technical user,” said Woodward. “I’ve got a lot of folks who are not computer folks but they’re able to get their maps out. During the early stages of an incident it’s key for a fire department to give out maps to the other responders so that people know where the incident is, what their assignment is.” People who don’t know computers can be up and running on the software within two hours, according to Woodward.

Woodward noted that with this latest pricing change, RedZone decreased their desktop licensing software significantly by about 2/3 and increased the survey software. Woodward said that for those customers doing surveys, paying from $2500 to $5000 for RedZone, with the desktop software license at a lower price they can distribute it within their department much more aggressively to everybody so that more people have access to the information. The site license allows customers to get software for a very small team of 10 or 20 all the way up to the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service.

With new site licensing option, Woodward said users can either buy the software as a site license up front, such as three counties in Idaho which have 10 fire departments, 8 police departments and a search and rescue team. “They can buy that site license for the entire county and then distribute the software anywhere within that county to any of those agencies,” explained Woodward. Public safety agencies will likely benefit from the new eLicensing and pricing structure as it allows them to deploy software when and where they need it during emergency operations.

The software is installed desktop software, as customers want to store maps locally for users who will carry their laptops into the field.

Some users keep RedZone in engines or command vehicles, where it is never hooked up to the Internet. They get a notice of software updates and can fully install them at the time.

Woodward said that RedZone supports a GPS microphone which allows you to send information from the field over the radio to a command vehicle. In the event of a wildland fire, for example, with a scenario of a command vehicle, 20 engines, and a crew of people who are working on the fire, a user can wear a GPS microphone then whenever anyone says something over the radio the microphone actually appends their location to the end of their voice transmission and sends that over the radio. Because firefighters and other emergency responders are often in areas that don’t have a wireless connection, the radio with the GPS microphone can send real time positional updates over the radio. Users
can send their own location plus waypoints they’ve collected over the radio back to a vehicle or a center.

Within RedZone are synchronization capabilities which have not yet been released as a public product. This capability has been a custom feature for some bigger agencies and insurance companies who would want to synchronize information on private client groups with wildfire perimeter information and weather information. In these cases they can use the Internet for information transfer.

RedZone uses an ESRI MapObjects map engine for their desktop software. “Everything you create in RedZone, you can bring right into ArcGIS,” said Woodward. “For example, we’re very careful to make sure that when an incident commander in the field draws an area on the map, he can just right click on that and email that to the other folks that are using GIS software. Then they get a shapefile, so immediately we can update them and it can be passed from the field up the line to the regional coordination center or all the way up to something like GeoMac, which is the central source for wildfire information where the information gets posted.”

Now Woodward primarily works with the incident management team to do structure production and field data collection. “I think we identify with first responders well because we really participate in national incidents,” Woodward pointed out. “We’ve always seen there’s a missing link. There’s GIS software that’s very applicable to somebody who is a technician who can spend the time to learn how to do things. The folks who are missing the software are the guys out in the field. They need something professional enough to be focused on their incident types, but easy enough that they can use it when stuff is coming at them fast.”

(from the press release):
RedZone's eLicensing includes:

RedZone’s RZ3 Full-featured GIS software for emergency response

GPS Add-on - Live position tracking of the user and other remote personnel

PDA Survey Add-on - Handheld software integration for fast data collection in the field

Top News of the Week

GISCafe Today is a new blog written by GISCafe and GISWeekly Editor, Susan Smith, which will offer thoughts and insights on some of the more important announcements from the GIS/geospatial industry, plus an opportunity for readers to comment. Offering blogs is a way for us to extend our coverage of the numerous developments in the geospatial industry, so take a look and let us know what you think.

Geographic Information Services, Inc. (GISi) announced the release of Data Download. Data Download, built on ESRI’s ArcGIS Server 9.3 Flex (API) technology, streamlines the entire GIS data request workflow by empowering users to download data based on layer, viewable extent, or selection. Data Download allows users to specify the file format (CAD & GIS formats) for downloaded data. Data Download also provides a framework to facilitate your organization’s digital submission requirements.

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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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