September 05, 2005
The Role of GIS in Response to Hurricane Katrina
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| by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -
Welcome to GISWeekly! The news about Hurricane Katrina and the devastation the hurricane left in its wake has pre-empted most other news this week. In the face of such a huge disaster, volunteers with and without GIS expertise are needed. In a
, we compiled a list of those agencies that are seeking volunteers who can offer GIS professional help, cash donations, donations of other sorts as well as other assistance.
More information and resources from GIS vendors, government and other organizations, websites and weblogs, can be found in this week's Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
The Role of GIS in Response to Hurricane Katrina
The news is full of stories about the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina this week, of the sweep of absolute destruction of homes and lives as it cut a swath across the Deep South of the U.S from Florida through Mississippi and New Orleans. NOAA was in the forefront of tracking this hurricane activity, and hourly, changed its outlook as the storm changed its demeanor. On Tuesday, NOAA raised its 2005 hurricane outlook, forecasting an additional 11 to 14 tropical storms from now through November, with seven to nine becoming hurricanes. Of those, three to five are expected to become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 storms or higher, with sustained winds of at least 111 mph (179
kph). More importantly, there is no way of knowing how deep and wide the destruction has gone, as recovery efforts begin and the death toll mounts. So many people are in such desperate need that it hard to know where to begin.
New Orleans Overview
Image collected August 31, 2005
Levee Break at Surekote Road
Image collected August 31, 2005
Break is located on east side of New Orleans between Florida and N. Claiborne Avenues.
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin stated that he believes New Orleans will not be functional for months. It has been estimated that the total cost of damage may reach upwards of $25 billion. And that is just one city many others suffered greatly as well.
Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down. With the resulting drop in production, gasoline shortages developed in some areas of the country, and prices surged above $3 a gallon. To counteract this rise in prices, the Department of Energy said it would release oil from the nation's strategic reserve to offset the production losses.
In the face of such a huge disaster, volunteers with and without GIS expertise are needed. In a
, we compiled a list of those agencies that are seeking volunteers who can offer GIS professional help, cash donations, donations of other sorts as well as other assistance.
Listed here are some organizations that will accept and offer help, as well as news coverage.
URISA's GISCorps is seeking volunteer assistance to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and GITA is also in the process of obtaining a number of GPS receivers and arranging for GIS management expertise for the Mississippi EOC in Jackson.
If you can be of any assistance in this enormous disaster response effort, please let GITA know they will be coordinating efforts with GISCorps to try to help authorities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Please respond to INFO@GITA.ORG or to Shoreh Elhami directly as indicated in the following message.
This is an urgent request. If you are qualified for these two positions, email Shoreh Elhami (
)as soon as you can (also attach your resume).
In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, GISCorps has been asked to provide 20 volunteers to Mississippi Emergency Operation Center (EOC) in Jackson, Mississippi. They need two groups of ten volunteers:
Group 1: Must have at least 5 years of experience and well versed in using ArcGIS 9.0 in an SDE environment, comfortable in making maps and conducting quick analysis. Experience in disaster management is a plus.
Group 2: Must have at least 5 years of experience and well versed in using ArcGIS 9.0 and GPS software and equipment. **Must bring their own laptop loaded with 9.0 and also must bring a GPS unit compatible with ArcGIS**. This group will be working with search and rescue teams and K9 units mainly collecting data and navigating.
The following provides some general information provided by EOC office:
Both groups must be able to fly out within 24 hours
Must be able to stay for 5-7 days
Will work in 12-hour shifts
They provide lodging (in tents and on cots)
They will provide meals
Must bring boots, sleeping bags, and clothes suitable for field work and be prepared for an extremely hot weather
Must arrange and pay for your own flight, will be reimbursed for the cost of the ticket later. Jackson airport should be open to commercial flights. Memphis is a 4 hour drive away and a secondary option.
Group two must bring own GPS and laptop (no exceptions)
Group two will be working in very harsh conditions and must be prepared to deal with that.
They can apply and become a volunteer by filling out the volunteer form
Additionally, FEMA suggests relief organizations that request either cash donations or donations and volunteers:
Organizations Requesting Cash Donations
Note: 800 and 888 phone numbers work only in the U.S. and Canada
English: 800 HELP NOW (435 7669)
Spanish: 800 257 7575
800 436 6348
800 344 8070
Organizations Requesting Donations and Volunteers
800 381 7171
+1 703 549 1390
For further information, visit the Web site for the
Geospatial Satellite Imagery Help
Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite is being used to provide imagery and information in support of disaster response and recovery teams coping with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In particular, the imagery of the southern US states is being used to map and assess flood-damaged areas.
"RADARSAT-1 has been tasked to acquire imagery over the state of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast for the next few days," said John Hornsby, General Manager of
Geospatial Services International. "This will allow agencies to monitor the progression of the floodwaters and support on-the-ground relief and recovery efforts with the latest up-to-date information," he added.
Other GIS Vendors with a Presence
offers a collection of map and data resources for tracking the progress and analyzing the effects of hurricanes in the Caribbean, the United States, and countries along the Gulf of Mexico.
Orbit GIS Technologies
wants to help relief agencies, disaster response teams, victims, aid workers, government and private organizations and insurance companies with support software. They offer all parties that could have any use of their software tools to download free versions of their software, bundled specifically for this emergency situation. This software is tuned to be FREE OF CHARGE, regardless your organization.
The software bundle contains a full desktop GIS system, tools for mapping and registering changes, redlining and annotation, comparing data and imagery (pre- and post-event) and stereoviewing and softcopy tools for accurate interpretation of aerial imagery.
Organizational Websites and Blogs
USGS Hurricane Katrina Special Feature
USGS humanitarian rescue and response is being coordinated by the State Police and the State Fish and Wildlife Agencies that are using USGS flat boats to deliver food and supplies and transport people that have not been able to evacuate many of the flooded areas. There are now concerns about safety and security so the U.S. Coast Guard will oversee the continued evacuation. USGS employees in Lafayette are focused on providing relief to the local community and to a rapidly growing refugee camp on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
As of Friday, Lake Pontchartrain level has stabilized. USGS scientists are coordinating with many Federal agencies to provide geospatial information, maps, satellite images, and scientific assessments to complete the recovery and begin the healing process.
USGS is combining its humanitarian and scientific efforts by providing, at the request of the Louisiana Governor Office of Emergency Preparedness, geographers and data to help in mapping and analyzing the areas affected by the hurricane. Using a variety of satellite and aerial photography obtained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the geographers will provide coordinates and maps to link 911 calls and pinpoint exact areas where people need to be rescued. This linking of photography to ground coordinates was used in the 9-11 disaster in New York City.
FEMA Mapping and Analysis Center
- The Mapping and Analysis Center (MAC) provides national level Geographic Information System (GIS) support and coordination to the Agency. Information is available on the site for Hurricane Katrina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, including designated counties maps, and imagery derived assessment damage for specific areas.
NASA has designated a telephone number (256/544-4700) for family members seeking information about people who may have sought shelter from Hurricane Katrina at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. Support personnel at that number will also assist people trying to locate employees who work at either facility.
NASA established a toll-free number (888/362-4323) for recorded updates about general conditions at Stennis and Michoud and visit
NOAA National Hurricane Center
National Weather Service has satellite images, US weather radar, aircraft recon, email advisories, RSS feeds.
CIMSS Tropical Cyclones of Hurricane Katrina
storm tracking with forecast, morphing animations, latest reconnaissance report, movies.
The AAG is organizing an
fund to support geography departments and others impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Those in need in the affected regions can send the AAG a list of items such as books, maps publications, imaging services (remote sensing, emergency mapping, expertise, etc.) and they will attempt to link colleagues who may be able to help out. The AAG has also established a special fund that will go towards rebuilding departments in the hardest hit areas. Geographers and others can contribute to the fund online or send a payment to the AAG designated for the "AAG Hurricane Katrina Assistance Fund." Other questions or
, and establishing a
appeals for assistance can be directed to Doug Richardson or John Wertman at AAG headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Looking for Loved Ones
So many people are missing in the affected areas, that several people have opened up websites or added sections to websites dedicated to the posting of messages for missing loved ones.
, a Web site better known as a place to buy or sell or rent, or look for love, is now flooded with posts looking for the missing.
Here a positive one: "Just heard from my sister. She is OK!!! She had slight damage to her house (shingles off), lost 30 trees on her property, but horses, dogs, and my sister are OK!!! She had to drive 30 miles to a pay phone."
The Times-Picayune newspaper
has a "Submit your own Stories" section that is now filled with notes from people looking for others. The paper also has created a new category for those people needing rescue.
"Please help," one read. "About 400-500 people are gathered at the church on 5069 Willowbrook Drive, 70129 ZIP and are waiting for help. They have no food and water is rising. Please help."
A new web site called
is dedicated to finding the missing.
Press Coverage and How to Help
, featuring "Everything New Orleans," also has maps, satellite images, alerts, photos. Also people are encouraged to submit their own stories. According to
The New York Times
, the Times-Picayune, whose daily circulation is 270,000, put out only an electronic edition on Wednesday with a one-word headline summing up the impact of Hurricane Katrina: "Catastrophic." The local paper is like other news media outlets in New Orleans that mostly abandoned newsprint and television broadcasts on Wednesday and set up shop on the Web.
USA Today Storm Center
has historical data on hurricanes as well as up to date information on the progress of Hurricane Katrina
Palm Beach Post
- latest AP reports
CNN - Top 10 Worst Hurricanes
, how to help, maps, interactive safety tips, etc.
August 31, 2005
Alabama Power Uses IT To Get To Katrina Disaster Sites
, by Martin Garvey, Information Week, September 1, 2005 - The utility is using satellite communications, weather tracking, homegrown applications, and mapping technology to organize and dispatch response teams to restore power to hundreds of thousands of customers.
The Humane Society of the U.S.
Effort to rescue animals displaced by the hurricane.
An Equine rescue group helping Louisiana horses, Habitat for Horses/Lone Start Equine Rescue is organizing a massive relief and rescue effort to help the equines of southern Louisiana after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina forced millions to evacuate. FEMA and the USDA are now in control of the areas most devastated and the group will operate under the guidance and control of FEMA and the USDA during this operation. Financial donations are needed to help fund this massive undertaking. Estimates range from several hundred to several thousand horses that are currently lost, injured or in danger. Donations of supplies can be made by calling Rose Westover, Emergency Evacuation Coordinator,
Habitat for Horses/Lone Star Equine Rescue, Inc. at 713-467-3444 / 713-594-1177. Email address is
Donations can be mailed to Habitat for Horses/Lone Star Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 213, Hitchcock, TX 77563
On October 1, 2005 the U.S. Geological Survey will enter a partnership with the California Department of Conservation to transition over-the-counter retail sales in Menlo Park, California. The USGS will no longer conduct over-the-counter retail sales of maps and publications in Menlo Park. Instead, the Department of Conservations's California Geological Survey (CGS) will assume responsibility for the integrated enhanced delivery of over-the-counter retail sales of maps and publications with no decrease in services to customers. Eight CGS geologists and retail sales staff members will be co-located on the USGS campus at 345 Middlefield Road, with two USGS employees to create a
seamless "one-stop-shop" for delivery of natural science information products and services. The balance of five USGS employees currently involved in publication sales will relocate and join the USGS Library employees in Building 15 to form the Science Information & Library Services component of the USGS Natural Science Network.
Danaher Corporation announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Leica Microsystems AG from LM Investments S.a.r.l. Leica Microsystems is a leading global designer and producer of innovative high- precision imaging systems used in life science and related applications, with revenues of approximately $660 million in 2004.
International Land Systems (ILS), Inc - a provider of integrated national title registry and cadastral solutions - is excited to announce that GISDATA has joined the ILS team as an Exclusive Authorized Reseller of Land Registration Products in the countries of: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia & Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania.
Exor Corporation and Causeway Technologies announce the successful implementation of Mac1 into Area 2, the first of the UK's Highways Agency's Enhanced Managing Agent Contracts (EMAC).
Mac1 is a collaborative effort to provide an advanced software solution delivering integrated asset management and cost control tools over the web.
Mac1 was delivered to InterRoute, a joint venture between RCS & Mott MacDonald, the team awarded the €250 million five-year Area 2 deal. Area 2 covers the network of trunk roads and motorways in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, the greater Bristol area and parts of Devon and Dorset.
Bentley Systems, Incorporated, a provider of software for the lifecycle of the world's infrastructure, announced the release of its June 2005 Annual Report, which reviews Bentley's business developments for the prior fiscal year and includes financial highlights.
In the report, CEO Greg Bentley said, "The company's performance has never been better. I would like to thank all our stakeholders for their contributions and confidence, and we look forward to continuing this predictable growth for our mutual benefit."
To view a copy of Bentley's June 2005 Annual Report online or request a printed copy, go to
NAVTEQ, a global provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, has achieved ISO/TS 16949:2002 certification for the release, manufacturing and distribution of Data Products and Distribution Products carried out in the Distribution Services organization and supported by the Vehicle Sales and Quality departments for NAVTEQ North America. Having achieved certification of its European operations in 2004, the North American compliance marks the recognition of NAVTEQ's global standardized processes and single database specification.
Cadcorp, the digital mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) software developer, has announced that the next version of its Cadcorp SIS - Spatial Information System - software suite, Version 6.2, will incorporate Web searching facilities from Google.
Developed using the Google Web APIs (application programming interface), the new functionality will enable Cadcorp SIS desktop users to access Google's search facilities directly from within the Cadcorp SIS environment. This capability will enable users to use Google to quickly find services that implement Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Service specifications.
Geoprocessing Using ModelBuilder, a
free, live training seminar
from ESRI Virtual Campus
, focuses on how to use ModelBuilder to make geoprocessing tasks more streamlined and efficient. The seminar is designed for ArcGIS Desktop users who have a basic understanding of the ArcGIS 9 geoprocessing framework. There will be three presentations on September 22, 2005, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific time.
A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Virtual Campus membership are required to view the seminar.
Geodata Systems Technologies, Inc., a systems integrator that focused on integrated management information system and geographic information system (MIS/GIS) solutions, has won a R33-million ($600,000) contract to implement a GIS-based assets management system for Districts 1 and 2 of the National Transmission Corporation (Transco).
Intergraph Corporation announced Surdex Corporation, a leading U.S. mapping firm, has selected Intergraph's Z/I Imaging(R) DMC(R) digital mapping camera to streamline its aerial mapping operations, establishing a complete digital image environment. Leveraging the DMC's fully digital workflow, Surdex will more quickly and accurately provide small- to large-scale digital images to customers. The DMC digital acquisition and production process will shorten the delivery time of data, and increase the quality of digital imagery products, enabling Surdex customers to integrate the information quicker, and expand the use of geospatial products.
Citilabs Inc. is proud to announce that Ernest K. Ott (Ernie) has joined their management team, and will immediately open a Los Angeles Regional Office. Ernie has accepted a new position of Vice President as a key part of Citilabs' adoption and enhancement of GIS-based solutions for Transportation Planners and Engineers, along with Citilabs' upcoming release of CUBE version 5, embedded with ArcGIS.
Digital mapping and geographic information systems (GIS) software developer Cadcorp has announced the appointment of two new regional sales and business managers. Chris Holcroft has been appointed sales and business manager for the Asia Pacific region, covering the Asian continent, Australia and New Zealand, while Adam Fox has been promoted to sales and business manager for the Americas, covering North, Central and South America. Both Holcroft and Fox will report to Martin McGarry, sales and marketing director, Cadcorp.
Geometry Pty Ltd announces the release of its new product, Spatial Console, a user-friendly tool for importing, exporting, viewing and validating spatial data in an Oracle environment.
The product combines Geometry's Spatial Loader and Spatial Extractor products with a viewer and validation tools to form a powerful management suite for Oracle Spatial and Oracle Locator users.
SpatialAce can now be used even on mobile terminals. SpatialAce LE is a professional toolkit for building networked GIS applications. With its proven architecture, SpatialAce LE enables rapid application development of interactive location-based services that run on handheld computers, PDAs and cell phones. SpatialAce LE can use a combination of local GIS data and map layers that are accessed via a remote server.
GiveMePower Corporation, a provider of next-generation computer-aided design (CAD), digital-blueprint management and graphics-development software for "anytime and anywhere" use across all Microsoft Windows(R) desktop, laptop, tablet and handheld/wireless computing platforms, announced that final beta testing of its new PowerCAD(R) SiteMaster(TM) 2 laser-based mobile and wireless building-surveying solution is underway, with commercial launch scheduled for the end of September, 2005.
Geometry Pty Ltd announced the release of its new product, Spatial Console, a user-friendly tool for importing, exporting, viewing and validating spatial data in an Oracle environment.
Intergraph announced the successful completion of Final Acceptance Testing and rollout of its mobile workforce management system, InService(TM), at Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB). The new system enables KUB to more efficiently process service orders while optimizing its field resources for faster response to customer needs. In an earlier project phase, KUB deployed the InService outage management solution (OMS).
TimTech Computer announces the release of RoboGEO version 2.0, Windows software that geocodes digital images.
RoboGEO permanently records WHERE digital photos were taken by stamping the latitude, longitude, and altitude onto the images or by embedding the data into the image's EXIF headers.
RoboGEO automates the geocoding process by interfacing with a Garmin GPS unit and reading its tracklog or waypoint list. Users can also import GPX files or manually specify each image's location by clicking on a map.
The new version creates clickable web pages that use Google Maps to show where each photo was taken. Users can also export the geocoded images into Microsoft MapPoint or Streets & Trips for viewing on their local computer.
Date: September 6 - 9, 2005
Place: San Juan, Puerto Rico
The X Conference of the Iberoamerican Society of Geographic Information Systems (XIBCGIS) will take place in the San Juan City (Puerto Rico) on September 6 to 9, 2005. The organization of the Conference is a responsibility of the Department of Environmental Health, Department of Geography, Department of Environmental Sciences, the Atlantea Project and the Divisions of Continual Education of the Graduated School of Public Health and the Rio Piedras Campus. All these institutions are part of the University of Puerto Rico.
Date: September 7 - 10, 2005
Place: Nairobi, Kenya
"PGIS 2005 - Mapping for Change: International Conference on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communications." A conference on exchanging experiences and towards defining good practices in participatory GIS and community mapping in developing countries and first nations.
Date: September 12 - 14, 2005
Place: Adam's Mark Hotel Denver, CO USA
The ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit is a forum for executives and management teams to evaluate their levels of readiness for information management, business continuity, and technology solutions for homeland security. Those with responsibilities in public safety, law enforcement, health, utilities, telecommunications, transportation systems, IT integration, business, or anyone using or interested in GIS solutions for managing and sharing geospatial information should attend.
Date: September 15 - 17, 2005
Place: Poznan International Fair Poland
The International Geodesy and Geoinformatics Fairs (GEA) taking place in Poznan cover a wide range of diverse branches such as geodesy, forestry, building trade and architecture as well as companies dealing with energy, water and heat supply, telecommunication, road, rail, air, and water transport or professionals from such fields as ecology, geography, and spatial engineering. Geoinformatics, a rapidly developing branch of science, functions as the entity joining all those areas of interest.
Date: September 18 - 21, 2005
Place: Holiday Inn by the Bay Portland, ME USA
The Northeast Arc Users Group (NEARC) is one of several independent regional organizations that represent users of Geographic Information System (GIS) software developed by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) of Redlands, California. ESRI software includes, among other things, such well-known GIS products as Arc/Info and ArcView. NEARC was formed in 1986; the geographic area encompassed by the group includes New England, New York and New Jersey, with some participation from users in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The twentieth annual NEARC is Sept. 18-21 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, Maine. Speakers include Joe Kelley of the University of Maine and Jeff Jackson and
Andy McDonald of ESRI. For the convenience of NEARC attendees, ESRI is offering two, two-day training courses immediately following the conference. Introduction to ArcIMS and Creating and Editing Parcels with ArcGIS will be taught on September 22 and 23 from 9am-5pm at the Portland Regency Hotel in Portland, ME. The Portland Regency Hotel is located within walking distance of the Holiday Inn By the Bay. Special pricing for these courses has been arranged.
Date: September 19 - 21, 2005
Place: JW Marriott Hotel Houston, TX USA
The 14th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition is the world's largest gathering of oil and gas GIS professionals. We had record-breaking attendance last year. Don't miss this year's event-it will be bigger and better than ever!
Date: September 19 - 20, 2005
Place: VSB-TU Ostrava, 17 listopadu 15, Ostrava-Poruba, Czech Republic
Dear GI-friends and sci-fi fans, We are organizing non-traditional conference concerned on geographic information science and technology. The goal of our conference is bring together people that are bored of traditional conferences in that area, that show usually solved problems from different points of view and applied in different areas. Our conference would like to present only ideas and views how geographic science and technology could look in the year 2025.i
Date: September 21 - 23, 2005
Place: Invesco Field @ Mile High Denver, CO USA
The conference is organized by volunteers from the local chapters of the following professional societies: Geospatial Information Technology Association (GITA, formerly AM/FM International), American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Professional Land Surveyors of Colorado (PLSC). GIS Colorado A comprehensive program encompassing all of the society areas of expertise with workshops, technical talks, and an exhibitor/vendor hall. A third day consists of off-site events and tours to various GIS related venues.
Date: September 26 - 29, 2005
Place: World Trade and Convention Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Hosted by CARIS, this year's 10th International User Group Conference and Educational Sessions will be the international training and management conference for CARIS customers and parties interested in exploring the benefits and application of spatial information management technology.
You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here
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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.