Recent geographical events like the earthquakes and tsunami that have hit Japan prove that we can’t stop Mother Nature. All we can do is know how to prepare, and how to react when doing battle with natural forces. GIS gathers and analyzes important geographical information. It tells a story and can better prepare us for dangers that lie ahead.
Miami-Dade County, FL is a popular tourist hot spot, but is also one of the most disaster prone cities in the United States. Because of this, the county’s police and planning departments utilize GIS software in order to keep the area’s residents and visitors safe.
“The Police Department, the Planning Department, emergency management, fire, water and sewer — they all use GIS in different ways,” said Ali Fain, account executive at GIS software maker Esri, who works closely with Miami-Dade on its GIS implementation. “For productivity, enhanced analysis and basically just to provide better service.”
GIS isn’t just being used for natural conditions in Miami. As a host of the 2010 Super Bowl, the city used GIS to map out crowd control situations. Similar implementation of GIS was used after last year’s earthquake in Haiti when Miami became a key relief hub.
Soheila Ajabshir, GIS manager for the Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management, said “The Haitian population here needed help and support. We tracked every plane bringing Americans here from Haiti, including how many passengers, with how many children and how many people were going to Miami hospitals. Orchestrating all this fell on our shoulders.”
According to GovTech, the county also tracked U.S. donations flowing to the earthquake-ravaged nation using its GIS. Teams were able to where disaster assistance centers needed to be put due to the greatest concentration of Haitian residents in the county.
The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill was also tracked by GIS, allowing teams to know where the oil was and where it was going.
With help from GIS technology, natural and man made disasters can be contained. The vast world can become a bit smaller in our eyes and keep us all safe from unstoppable situations.