Cloud mapping tools to aid first responders during disasters

First responders and citizens hit by a local disaster have a new cloud-based mapping tool that will give them more detailed knowledge on the ground, enabling them to react better with more informed decisions.

Esri, a geographic information system provider, and Microsoft have entered into a strategic alliance that will allow Microsoft to display ESRI public information maps on its cloud-based Disaster Response Incident Portal, as well as direct users to the maps via its online outlets including MSN and Bing, the companies said in an announcement.

Esri’s ArcGIS integration within a number of Microsoft’s disaster response management solutions will provide governments and leading aid organizations with a more comprehensive set of tools to address key challenges.

The alliance leverages the strengths of both companies, officials said.

“The first phase involves using our technologies to support affected organizations and provide public information faster and in a more intuitive web map format during crises," said Harmony Mabrey, senior operations manager with Microsoft Disaster Response.

By including Esri's intelligent, interactive Web maps with Microsoft's suite of disaster response services, both first responders and citizens will have access to a more detailed level of knowledge about the impacts of a disaster, Mabry said.

As a result, emergency organizations as well as the general public can make more informed decisions during disasters because of better situational awareness and information sharing, company officials said.

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