Mapping Workshop Helps Improve Public Safety

Location is critical for effectively responding to an emergency situation. This statement opens the overview of the two-day Mapping the Common Operational Picture (COP) workshop, held Jan. 11 and 12 at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va. 

The Monongahela National Forest Service conducted this emergency management class in conjunction with Future Generations. Twenty-two first responders, public safety workers, and volunteers attended.

This workshop created a COP of different features, resources, infrastructure, and events. The information was integrated into a geospatial toolkit and applied to computer mapping programs such as Google Earth and ArcGIS Explorer.

ArcGIS Explorer is a free geographic information system (GIS) software program that gives the user the ability to explore, visualize, and share mapping data. Google Earth is a popular virtual globe and GIS program that shows satellite imagery of the entire planet and has been downloaded over a billion times since 2005.

The workshop transitioned from learning the software to applying them in an emergency response situation; however, the emphasis remained on hands-on mapping and Web GIS, which is similar to web-mapping, with an emphasis on analysis and project-specific data.

The class studied the following information: public safety case studies, incidents using COP, a National Incident Management System (NIMS), outline tools, online mapping and mobile technologies, and local COP and emergency situation mapping. 

Sam Lammie, GISP Monongahela National Forest instructor, led the 16-hour course with assistance from GIS technicians, William Schauman and Tim Brake. Ginger Wimer, program officer, and Nicole Marsh, administrative assistant, of Future Generations West Virginia Broadband Opportunities Program coordinated the class.

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