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New mapping tool can save lives

It is obvious that knowing the location and availability of resources such as hospitals, transportation equipment and water during an emergency situation can save lives. Researchers at Georgia Tech started in 2000 to develop a collaborative mapping tool named GTVC (short for Geographic Tool for Visualization and Collaboration). Even if it was intended to support military applications at the beginning, the mapping tool can now be used by the emergency management community. It has already been deployed in Florida which plans to use it in all its counties and in Dakota County, Minnesota. According to Georgia Tech researchers, it could soon be used by more than 100 other cities, counties and local agencies. But read more...
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Written by Roland Piquepaille, Inactive on

It is obvious that knowing the location and availability of resources such as hospitals, transportation equipment and water during an emergency situation can save lives. Researchers at Georgia Tech started in 2000 to develop a collaborative mapping tool named GTVC (short for Geographic Tool for Visualization and Collaboration). Even if it was intended to support military applications at the beginning, the mapping tool can now be used by the emergency management community. It has already been deployed in Florida which plans to use it in all its counties and in Dakota County, Minnesota. According to Georgia Tech researchers, it could soon be used by more than 100 other cities, counties and local agencies. Read more...

GTVC Overview

You can see above a generic GTVC screenshot. (Credit: Kirk Pennywitt, on this GTVC Overview page.) Here is a quote. "The Geographic Tool for Visualization and Collaboration (GTVC) is a Java-based client-server application that provides collaborative mission planning, rehearsal, recording, and playback capabilities. It allows multiple users in different locations to perform both real-time operations and exercise planning, and provides a live view of situational status when responding to an emergency or crisis situation. The GTVC is used to support the Georgia Office of Homeland Security and other first responders in Georgia."

GTVC screenshot in Dakota County, Minnesota

And you can see above a customization of the GTVC mapping tool for Dakota County, Minnesota. (Credit: Dakota County Minnesota, Office of Geographic Information Systems, in "What It Means To Burnsville"). You'll find there some additional details: "Aside from disaster response, the application has day to day, practical application for both pre-planned events as well as the emerging critical incident. The tracking feature of the GTVC software allows for playback later of the entire event as recorded, message posting, incident data tracking and layer mapping for each discipline which can be viewed or not as the operator selects."

Now, let's look at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) news release for other details. "GTRI has teamed with Atlanta-based company Emergency Visions to provide mapping capabilities for a resource database the firm developed to identify, activate, track and coordinate response assets. The GTRI and Emergency Visions applications were selected by the Florida Division of Emergency Management in June 2007 as part of a solution that combines these comprehensive technology tools with the training and management expertise of a team led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

According to the developers, they decided to keep an easy-to-use philosophy. "'A lot of mapping systems are pretty complex to operate. Our system was deliberately designed to be easy to use for people who are not mapping experts,' said Kirk Pennywitt, a senior research engineer in GTRI's Information Technology and Telecommunications Laboratory (ITTL).

For the Florida deployment, Pennywitt and his software development team added new capabilities to the software. Here are three of these new features.

  • Track mobile assets with the global positioning system (GPS)
  • Manage warehouse resources
  • Display real-time availability of a resource

And what's coming? "'We will soon be adding an option to allow users to provide their own custom topographic, photographic or aerial maps,' explained Pennywitt. Currently, users can view street maps, aerial imagery or a combination of both."

Sources: Georgia Institute of Technology Research News, January 16, 2008; and various websites

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