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Three GISCorps volunteers finalized a pilot project for the Red Cross in Brisbane – Australia

The Australian Red Cross – Emergency Services (QLD), based in Brisbane requested the assistance of GIS volunteers with experience in disaster response. The aim of the project was to have mapping tools that would improve the ability of the Red Cross team to document resource capacity and market this capacity to partner agencies. The recruitment resulted in selection of two volunteers in Brisbane (and vicinity) and one volunteer in the US. The volunteers were: Ori Gudes and Daniel Coogan from Australia and Scott Madry from North Carolina. They worked with the Red Cross team for several weeks and had the opportunity to meet and discuss opportunities for enhancing the operations of the Australian Red Cross Emergency Services in QLD.

Cyclone Tracking map created by MAPS team

The objective of the pilot project was to establish a mapping capability for the Australian Red Cross Emergency Services. This involved scoping the model to be used and identifying the required hardware, software, data, and personnel. There was also a component of scoping of the pre and post emergency spatial mapping opportunities. The team was successful in developing a model, purchasing the appropriate hardware and software, loading of the software onto the hardware and establishing the relationships for the gathering of data. This was produced in an operational guidelines document. Trial maps were also produced (several examples are included in here). There was also identification of the pre-emergency opportunities for spatial mapping. According to Tim McInerny (Project contact & Emergency Services Coordinator at the Red Cross), the volunteers all brought different strengths to the project that complemented each other. There was significant value in having each of them take ‘ownership’ of different parts of the project that really drew on their strengths.

The volunteers also had a chance to work with MAPS; a GIS volunteer core based in Australia. MAPS volunteers are spatial professionals who provide Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support during major emergency events across Australia and the Asia Pacific region. MAPS consists of four to six coordinators and an unlimited number of volunteers.

The 35+ MAPS personnel created many maps and products including those displayed on this page and ensured the success of the project. According to Tim McInerny: “During the QLD Floods and Cyclones of 2011, the preparation undertaken by the GISCorps team allowed for a smooth transition to the MAPS teams that were deployed to assist the Red Cross Incident Management Team. Overall, 37 MAPS team members were deployed over 47 days and hundreds of spatial products were developed to assist the operation.

Intensity of cyclone mapped by MAPS

You can find further details and additional maps from a slide show prepared and presented by Tim McInerny to several stakeholders.

Flood extent model mapped by MAPS

The following updates were provided by Tim McInerny during the project (December 2010 and January 2011).

Project Background and previous updates

Project Update – January 2011

As I’ve been in the field I have been distanced from the mapping team, but from all reports the work has been excellent and all our planning paid off as the team is producing maps daily (see the photos below).

A couple of points for an update:

1. The Red Cross Mapping team is producing maps daily to assist with the response and recovery effort for the QLD floods.

2. The mapping team is fully mobile and self sufficient, which proved valuable when the Red Cross operations centre was threatened with flood waters and the team was forced to quickly relocate.

3. Maps are being produced from government data, reports from the field and publicly available information

4. Regular mapping requests include road closures, locations of Red Cross teams and facilities, flood maps, demographics etc.

Project Update – December 2010

As it is the season for giving thanks and reflecting back on the year I thought I would take the opportunity to share the huge progress that has been made from an initial idea in September to a piloted mapping capability for Red Cross Emergency Services in QLD. As well as to make key people aware of the potential resource that is now available during emergencies. A quick snapshot of what the highlights have been:

– The GISCorps volunteers; Scott, Ori and Daniel that have weekly and sometimes daily offered technical advice, set up of the hardware and produced demo maps.
– The MAPS team from Canberra that will provide us with technically skilled volunteers during emergencies (MOU being drafted in the new year).

– The successful grant from ESRI for the license to use their mapping software (ArcInfo 10.0).
– The purchase and establishment of the mapping hardware that allows the team to set up and be deployed anywhere there is power – 3 new laptops, NAS + portable storage, switch, hub, printer, cords, ID, stationary etc.
– The set-up of a smart board and secondary tablet for displaying maps in the QLD EOC.

– The Department of Environment and Resource Management who hold the majority of QLD government data have offered physical space for five of our team to work from their facility, with dedicated access to their data and printing facilities.
– Emergency Management Queensland continue to offer support during emergencies and have offered valuable guidance.
– A small number of local government authorities are now becoming aware of what we are doing and sharing data and the contacts of their GIS specialists.

Demo maps
– Just yesterday we were able to take cleansed NRIS data (thanks IT) and produce a basic map that proves we have this capability this season.
– Using old data we were able to map the location of Red Cross facilities in QLD.
– With public data we have been able to map areas based on age group etc to show the possibility for vulnerability mapping.
– We have also been able to map /wp-content/uploads/2017/01/text taken in the field (using an iPhone) of key interest points.

Our emphasis has always been to ‘learn to walk before we run’ and I hope people’s expectations are reasonable for this season (i.e. this is a pilot). There is significant potential to add greater value to our operational and non-operational environment with the spatial technologies available. Together with other departments of the Red Cross and with our partner agencies I look forward to learning and improving through the upcoming emergency events.

Thank you for either being part of this exciting project or supporting it.

“GISCorps volunteers were instrumental in establishing the Australian Red Cross with a spatial mapping capability to be used during emergencies. The value the GISCorps volunteers brought to the project was proven in the success of the mapping products developed during the 2011 QLD Floods and cyclones.”
Tim McInerny, project contact & Emergency Services Coordinator at the Red Cross
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