Ind. launches GIS emergency network

The Indiana Homeland Security Department is deploying a communication network that uses ESRI geographic information system software.

The network uses a Web portal for linking local resources with state and federal agencies in the event of a disaster, ESRI officials said. The GIS-based system will offer a two-way stream of information flow, vital to disaster response, the company said.

'We wanted to leverage resources already in place with other state agencies and in the universities across the state,' said Roger Koelpin, GIS/critical infrastructure planner for the Indiana Homeland Security Department. 'Ultimately, we hope to turn this into a viable process for bottom-up reporting of data to meet federal data calls and to keep our federal partners informed as part of our routine, authoritative, common operating picture.'

Indiana will incorporate into the disaster response system an array of ESRI software tools, including ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo, the company said.

Industry partners include ESi and its Web-enabled crisis management system, WebEOC. In addition, FME from Safe Software will help extract data from stakeholders' Web feature services and transform the data so that it complies with the federal Homeland Security Department data model, ESRI said.

The enterprise disaster response system provides several functions. First, it is used to help state agencies identify high-risk populations, infrastructure, natural resources and other assets, the company said. Second, it provides rapid response capabilities. Commanders can make quick decisions on where to send law enforcement, fire personnel and emergency medical services staff. They can instantly see available resources and monitor events as they unfold, the company said.

A major piece of the system comes from Indiana university partners who are using IndianaMap, a single statewide geospatial resource for Indiana that can be used by both expert GIS users and the general public, the company said.

About one-third of Indiana's 92 counties host their own GIS software and databases. Another third have vendors hosting their data in propriety 911 call center applications, ESRI said. Some of the counties in the remaining third are using grants to bolster GIS operations, ESRI said.

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About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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