GIS Helps Bolster Hurricane Preparation and Response

Maps and Analysis Provide Accurate Picture of Events on the Ground before, during, and after Emergency

Redlands, California—September 10, 2008—Geographic information system (GIS) technology played a key role in assisting federal, state, and local agencies to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Gustav. Using ArcGIS software and Web GIS services from ESRI, staff were able to more effectively prepare for the hurricane's impact. Officials viewed spatial and related tabular information to make assessments prior to landfall. As the hurricane swept across Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, dynamic data updates helped accurately depict events as they unfolded.

"The objective of large-scale, complex emergency management is putting in place preparedness and prevention measures so that you minimize the impact of the event to people, communities, assets, and infrastructure," says Russ Johnson, public safety manager, ESRI. "For Gustav, GIS helped do that. People were able to understand exactly what was happening and what actions needed to be taken both before and after the hurricane made land. They were able to address and prioritize critical issues to save lives and start the recovery."

The Power of Hurricane Gustav

Gustav, which made landfall as a category 2 hurricane on Monday, September 1, was less potent than originally predicted but devastating nonetheless. Packed with over 100-mile-an-hour winds, torrential rain, and the threat of tornadoes, Hurricane Gustav resulted in U.S. property damages estimated in the billions of dollars.

GIS helped mobilize responders, equipment, and supplies. It assisted in evacuations that resulted in nearly two million people, including many thousands of elderly and infirm, moving to safety in an organized, efficient manner. Many of the evacuation plans, which included multiple means of transportation, were assessed, implemented, and monitored using GIS. Personnel determined appropriate evacuation shelters and the most expedient routes to the shelters as well as monitored and managed logistics necessary to sustain shelter operations.

In addition, other analyses were performed to understand how critical infrastructures might be impacted by the storm (potential power outages, transportation network impairment, government facility damage, etc.). From these analyses, contingencies were developed for maintaining government operations and business continuity using other resources. GIS analysts fused diverse data types from multiple sources including satellite imagery; GPS coordinates; live weather feeds; and utility grid, parcel, and street information. Maps were developed that displayed damaged buildings and hazardous areas, functioning and downed communication networks, power outages, road closures, and food and safe water sources after the hurricane hit. These maps aided in identifying recovery priorities and communicating information to other government officials, the public, and the media. News outlets used GIS data and mapping to add data-rich graphics to their stories.

Perhaps most important, GIS specialists and virtual networks of organizations collaborating and sharing resources played a key role in the response. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security added GIS analysts in the national operation center to increase support during the event. The deployment of GIS helped eliminate redundant work and facilitated greater preparedness, collaboration, and communication.

"The ability to pull together a common operating picture across jurisdictions is better today than at any other time," says Johnson. "I think that people have begun to appreciate the value of the technology and anticipate having it in place and ready to deploy when emergencies occur."

About ESRI
Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world's mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at


Jesse Theodore
Tel.: 909-793-2853, extension 1419
E-mail: Email Contact

Review Article Be the first to review this article

Featured Video
Associate Packaging Engineer for Unilever at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Management Analys for City of Lenexa at Lenexa, Kansas
GIS ANALYST for Cobb County Government at Marietta, California
GIS Engineer III for Nebraska State Government at Lincoln|, Nebraska
Senior Account Manager, Utilities for RAMTeCH Software Solutions, Inc. at Stillwater, Minnesota
Upcoming Events
COMSOL Conference 2018 Lausanne at SwissTech Convention Center Quartier Nord EPFL, Route Louis-Favre 2, 1024 Ecublens Switzerland - Oct 22 - 24, 2018
6th OpenFOAM Conference 2018 at Radisson Blu Hotel, Hamburg Airport Flughafenstraße 1-3 Hamburg Germany - Oct 23 - 25, 2018
ASSESS 2018 CONGRESS at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort 100 Rue Charlemagne, Braselton GA - Oct 28 - 30, 2018
MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress—MSEC 2018 at Silverado Resort and Spa 1600 Atlas Peak Road Napa CA - Oct 28 - 30, 2018
Kenesto: 30 day trial
SolidCAM: See It Live

Internet Business Systems © 2018 Internet Business Systems, Inc.
25 North 14th Steet, Suite 710, San Jose, CA 95112
+1 (408) 882-6554 — Contact Us, or visit our other sites:
AECCafe - Architectural Design and Engineering EDACafe - Electronic Design Automation GISCafe - Geographical Information Services TechJobsCafe - Technical Jobs and Resumes ShareCG - Share Computer Graphic (CG) Animation, 3D Art and 3D Models
  Privacy PolicyAdvertise