FEMA iPad tool helps rescuers visualize disaster scene

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed an iPad-based software tool that allows first responders to visualize building damage and other consequences of a disaster.

Sandia National Labs debuted the application, known as the Standard Unified Modeling, Mapping and Integration Toolkit (SUMMIT) at the FEMA’s Level Exercise 2011 (NLE-11) this summer.

Karim Mahrous, the SUMMIT project lead at Sandia, said the tool will provide emergency exercise planners realistic models of an emergency scene. "Typically, first responders playing in an exercise must pretend and dream up how a damaged building might look,” he said. “With SUMMIT, there's no more pretending."

SUMMIT enables dynamic linking of modeling and simulation tools and the underlying data, which helps improves the the emergency response cycle, including pre-event planning, training, evaluation and improvement.

David Moore, director of emergency management for Craighead County in Ark., said the tool would help create an accurate context for emergency logistics. "By having a graphical view of damaged areas, it's much easier to comprehend what's going on in the exercise and thus make smarter, firmer decisions,” he said.

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