Monday, May 20, 2013

The applications of GISystems to wilderness search and rescue, anoverview within a GIScience context and examples from Yosemite NationalPark.


Here is the Conclusion from my dissertation. I will post a link to the document as soon as it becomes available from the University. I am also writing a follow-up paper for the Annals of AAG. Thank you everyone for your support!


The components of WiSAR operations are entirely spatial. Additionally, the prevention of WiSAR incidents requires close study of where and when incidents occur.  I propose that the use of geographic information systems (GISystems) and spatial analyses could greatly enhance documentation and understanding of previous WiSAR incidents, as well as provide useful tools for saving lives in the future. This unique, but robust testing environment of WiSAR will allow for new discoveries within the spatial science disciplines. Based on case-studies in Yosemite alone, high-impacts topics such as Georeferencing from Text, Spatial Statistics, Time Geography, Search Theory, Location Science, Expert Modeling, and Machine Learning Algorithms were covered and presented to the GIScience and Geography communities.

If Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is the theory behind the development, use, and application of geographic information systems (GISystems), then WiSAR is an ideal topic for GIScientists to study. I have examined the spatial components of WiSAR, reviewed pertinent literature, used cutting edge GIScience techniques to solve WiSAR problems, and provided a framework for future research in WiSAR GISystems with broad implications for GIScience. This dissertation contains an Introduction to the central topic, and chapters that highlight in-depth research investigation in GIScience.

This dissertation presents preliminary, but compelling evidence that there is a universal need for GIScientists to address search and rescue problem solving and for WiSAR managers to adopt GISystems for apparent uses. Furthermore, I state that the future uses of GISystems in WiSAR are seemingly limitless. However, due to the nature of WiSAR as an emergency operation, technological efforts should be prioritized based on the potential for solving fundamental spatial questions that can be validated. For this reason I conclude that significant research efforts be directed towards the planning and operations related to searching for missing persons. The applications for time-geography, remote sensing, location science, and probabilistic modeling are very apparent in missing person search operations - and the process would greatly benefit researchers in these disciplines. Furthermore, I have found that GIS research related to preventing severe incidents through PSAR should be investigated further in collaboration with experts in spatial epidemiology. Finally, this dissertation is an evidence-based call to action for exploration of WiSAR in a GIScience context and for geographers of all specialties to get involved with their local search and rescue community.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Paul Doherty Dissertation Defense: Search and Rescue in Yosemite

The applications of GISystems to wilderness search and rescue, an overview within a GIScience context and examples from Yosemite National Park. Click on this link for flyer with more information

When: Wednesday, May 8th 1030h PST [new time]

Where: University of California Merced, 5200 Lake Rd Merced, California 95340, Science and Engineering Room 200 - click below for an interactive map. Please send me an email at if you have not already confirmed your attendance.

Webcast: My YouTube Channel

I will also be giving a public presentation at the Yosemite Open Forum next week on Tuesday, May 14th at Noon. Click here for more details.

For more information on my research see my research page.