Gamification and GIS Case Study – Esri UC

Today is the last full day of sessions at the Esri User conference, I’ve sat in a few sessions today, and thought I would share a brief recap on what I’ve learned and insights gained.

The first comes from a session on emergency management and GIS. This is one area where I am constantly blown away by GIS applications for emergency management. The session included GIS applications for training, recovery; real-time and helping first responders gain awareness of a crisis situation.

I’ve heard the GIS story before about first responders, but what really caught my attention was using GIS as a training tool to prepare for emergencies. Gamification is a growing trend in government. The idea is that if a training administrator can simulate a crisis, and train responders how to best react, when a crisis does occur they will be prepared. Although you cannot be prepared for any incident that may occur, you can be ready and have essential information known to react. For instance, you would know where shelter facilities are located, the fastest route to take, the layout inside a building and where essential staff is located across a city.

The presentation, “Serious Gaming and Spatial Thinking – Emergency Response Case Study,” by Emily Feeney, Rochester Institute of Technology, highlighted on example how gaming and GIS can be leveraged to improve disaster response. Through her course work, Feeney and he colleagues have created a GIS game for first responders.

The abstract for the panel reads:

“Serious games” are non-entertaining games with a real-world application. Spatial thinking is the idea of using the properties of space to structure and solve problems. We have designed a “serious game” that can be used to develop spatial thinking skills for emergency response personal. Using an emergency response scenario in which toxic substances washed up on the shore of the local park from river flooding, our game is composed of a series of problems responders must solve using spatial thinking. For example, which areas are the most affected? Which GIS tools, such as buffer and clip, are best for problem solving? In designing this game we face several challenges. Such as determining game difficulty level, deciding which GIS tools are best for certain tasks and how to use them, the variability of different responses to one emergency as well as measuring spatial thinking.

John Kostelnick, Illinois State University, presented the second panel, his presentation was titled, “Hazard and Crisis Map Symbology Design Practices by Humanitarian Organizations.”

This was a fascinating panel, as Kostelnick shared some of his research around how symbols are selected for hazard and crisis events. There was also a really interesting Q & A portion in which attendees shared examples of how hard it is to pick a symbol sometimes for a map, as selecting the wrong symbol may inadvertently be politically charged, when in reality you are just attempting to show unbiased data visually.

Here is the abstract for the session:

Numerous humanitarian organizations, NGOs, and governmental agencies around the world utilize map symbols for representing hazard/crisis events on GIS-based maps and visualizations. Yet, the development, utilization, and standardization of effective hazard/crisis symbology is wrought by several challenges, and new methodologies are needed to promote “best practices” for the design, standardization, and promulgation of hazard/crisis map symbology. This paper presents results from a web-based survey of hazard/crisis map symbol design and usage practices by humanitarian organizations from around the world. Key challenges in the development of hazard/crisis symbology by these organizations will be identified from the survey results, and potential strategies for overcoming key challenges will be proposed. Discussion will include the role of ESRI resources (e.g., Mapping Center, ArcGIS Online) for promoting hazard/crisis symbol sharing and standardization.

Check out the GIS resources available on GovLoop:

When Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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