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Geographic information systems have taken on new importance in homeland security and disaster management. State emergency management agencies are honing their use of GIS for disaster response and recovery, and the federal government is responding by creating a new interagency team.

The Interagency Geospatial Preparedness Team falls under the aegis of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, now part of the Homeland Security Department. Agencies participating include the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the Geological Survey and the Forest Service.

Team members have chosen several initial tasks, such as identifying geospatial activities, policies and products that will increase the effectiveness of emergency preparedness and response. Their goal is to improve the data, standards, systems and expertise available for coping with human and natural disasters.

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