Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Tornado Maps and Apps

Since many of you in the Search and Rescue Community are involved in Tornado Response and Recovery, I thought I'd post some resources here. 

Esri Disaster Response Emergency Assistance Form - Request GIS software, data, and support 24/7.

Collector for ArcGIS for online / offline data collection

Access to Tornado Data from our Open Data site (Beta)

Severe Weather Public Information Map 

SARGIS6 East June 20th - 22nd

We are pleased to announce the schedule of events for the SARGIS6 East workshop to be held June 20 - 22 in Morgantown, West Virginia.  The workshop is being sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management which allows participants to attend at no cost.  The location is the West Virginia GIS Technology Center on the Campus of West Virginia University. 

Please email Don Ferguson to confirm attendance. 

View Larger Map

The workshop is being offered in conjunction with the SARGIS6 West Meeting and will follow a similar schedule.  
Similar to the SARGIS6 West Workshop, the purpose of the SARGIS6 East workshop is:
- Introduce how Search and Rescue (SAR) and other public safety operations can benefit from GIS.
- Introduce the IGT4SAR Map Template for ArcGIS (free download)
- Learn how GIS can help with planning and mapping within ICS operations.
- Gather volunteers to share and discuss SAR strategies.
- Highlight tactical SAR procedures/ data management.
- Demonstrate cutting-edge GIS mapping tools that can be utilized by SAR personnel.
- Help SAR organize and spatially categorize field data.
- Continue to build and strengthen the SARGIS Community!
Everyone is invited to attend this course: GIS Specialists, SAR personnel, Emergency Managers, Emergency Responders, etc. For those of you with minimal experience using GIS please complete these two free online training modules prior to the class:

2. Basics of Geographic Coordinate Systems (for ArcGIS 10)
The draft schedule is listed below (subject to change as we coordinate with the west coast):
Friday (6/20)
0900h - Introductions
0930h - IGT4SAR Training Session I
1200h - Lunch (on your own)
1300h - IGT4SAR Training Session II
1600h - Presentation: Why use GIS for WiSAR (webcast with west coast)
1730h - Adjourn
Saturday (6/21)
0900h - Minimum Essential Dataset - Base data
1000h - Making Maps with IGT4SAR and ArcGIS
1100h - Lunch (on your own)
1200h - Introductions (webcast)
1230h - Presentation: 2013 SARGIS Review, 2014 What's coming next? (webcast)
1330h - Presentation / Discussion: How to use Cell Phone data for SAR (webcast)
1430h - Utilizing GPS for SAR
1530h - IGT4SAR Training Session III
1730h - Adjourn
Sunday (6/22)
0830h - Geospatial Analytic Methods applied to SAR
0930h - IGT4SAR Training Session IV
1100h - Lunch
1200h - Presentation: SARGIS Case Studies (webcast)
1245h - Break
1300h - Presentation: What's new in Lost Person Behavior?
1345h - Break
1400h - Discussion: What do we want to accomplish in 2014?
1430h - Discussion: Q&A with ESRI
1500h - Adjourn

Accommodations in Morgantown:
Staying in Morgantown is pretty inexpensive.  The government per diem rate is $83 /day for lodging.
Parking on Friday may be a bit tricky on Friday.  I recommend you park at the University Ave Garage which has 24 hour available parking.  If you stay at either the Hotel Morgan or Waterfront Place they have parking available so you would probably want to check in before coming to class.  Saturday and Sunday parking is free on campus and WVU lot #10 is right outside Brooks Hall.  Just turn in off of Campus Drive (see the map).

The closest hotel (walking distance) to the training venue is the historic Hotel Morgan:
The Waterfront Place is very nice:
Also nice and walking distance to the PRT (

1) Residence Inn by Marriott -
For those of you flying in for the course, the closest large commercial airport is the Pittsburgh International Airport:
The Pittsburgh airport has easy access to car rentals and the local Morgantown transit authority runs a twice a day shuttle to the airport:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Space-time analyses for forecasting future incident occurrence: a case study from Yosemite National Park using the presence and background learning algorithm

This follow up paper to the Yosemite Search and Rescue Incident Georeferencing Study has been published in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science. Many thanks to my colleagues and all of the volunteers who have helped support this project! 


To address a spatiotemporal challenge such as incident prevention, we need information about the time and place where incidents have occurred in the past. Using geographic coordinates of previous incidents in coincidence with spatial layers corresponding to environmental variables, we can produce probability maps in geographic and temporal space. Here, we evaluate spatial statistic and machine learning approaches to answer an important space-time question: where and when are wildland search and rescue (WiSAR) incidents most likely to occur within Yosemite National Park (YNP)? We produced a monthly probability map for the year 2011 based on the presence and background learning (PBL) algorithm that successfully forecasts the most likely areas of WiSAR incident occurrence based on environmental variables (distance to anthropogenic and natural features, vegetation, elevation, and slope) and the overlap with historic incidents from 2001 to 2010. This will allow decision-makers to spatially allocate resources where and when incidents are most likely to occur. In the process, we not only answered questions related to a real-world problem but also used novel space-time analyses that give us insight into machine learning principles. The GIScience findings from this applied research have major implications for best practices in future space-time research in the fields of epidemiology and ecological niche modeling.

Download the Paper
The IJGIS will provide free access for the first 50 downloads. Since the GIScience community already subscribes to this publication, I thought I would open this up to the Search and Rescue GIS Community: Download Here

Conclusion for Search and Rescue GIS
  • Both where and when an incident occurs is important.
  • SAR incidents occur where visitation is likely highest (obvious) - but visitor use activity is also not well mapped in recreational areas like Yosemite. Therefore it is difficult to map risk factors independently. 
  • If you don't map where an incident has occurred how will anyone else ever learn from the experience? 
  • Maps are an extremely compelling tool for telling a story about a place and capturing institutional knowledge.
  • GIS is an under utilized tool in Search and Rescue and this research is just beginning to scratch the surface
This research initiative is supported by the National Science Foundation (grant nos. BDI-0742986 and SBE-1031914). I would like to thank Yosemite Search and Rescue, Yosemite Volunteers-In-Parks, and the Yosemite National Park Division of Resource Management and Science for research permissions (OMB#1024-0236) and constructive suggestions. Special thanks to my Dissertation Commitee: Dr. Samuel Traina, Dr. Ruth Mostern, Dr. Yihsu Chen, labmates Wenkai Li and Otto Alvarez, co-authors Yu Liu and John Wieczorek, and especially my PhD advisor Dr. Quinghua Guo. Thank you to volunteers Diane and Greg Ambrose and Sarah Nurit for all of the Georeferencing and clerical work!

If we want to collaborate in follow up research, contact the Spatial Analysis & Research Center at University of California Merced (SpARC)

This map below is just a point layer of cumulative incidents. Stay tuned for time-enabled maps and maps that filter by incident type.

Monday, April 21, 2014

SARGIS6 West, June 19th - 22nd

6th Annual Wildland Search and Rescue GIS Training & Workshop

Webcast details

If you are presenting you will need to use the webcast below AND dial the number below. If you just want to listen in you can use just the conference audio.

Link: (sign-in as a Guest)

Phone: US (Toll Free): 1-866-398-2885
Passcode: 2699767579

Live Map of Saturday's Field Exercise featuring Collector for ArcGIS and DeLorme inReach.

View Larger Map

The purpose of the WiSAR training / workshop is to:
  • Introduce how Search and Rescue (SAR) and other public safety operations can benefit from GIS.
  • Introduce the MapSAR software (a free download).
  • Learn how GIS can help with planning and mapping within ICS operations.
  • Gather volunteers to share and discuss SAR strategies.
  • Highlight tactical SAR procedures/ data management.
  • Demonstrate cutting-edge GIS mapping tools that can be utilized by SAR personnel.
  • Help SAR organize and spatially categorize field data.
  • Continue to build and strengthen the SARGIS Community!

Who is Invited:

Experienced SAR instructors and volunteers, GIS specialists, National Ski Patrol, USFS, and NPS Rangers are all invited to this training seminar/workshop to learn how public safety can incorporate MapSAR geospatial technology into the public safety mission. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn first-hand from SAR members who have successfully used MapSAR in the field to complete their mission.

When: June 19-22nd, 2014 in Dunsmuir, CA

The first two days of the conference (June 19- 20) will be GIS training using MapSAR. Expert WiSAR personal from Esri alongside FireWhat GIS instructors will help facilitate this two day training course. Laptops and software will also be provided by Esri. Those attending this training must RSVP to hold their place and have some GIS knowledge. The WiSAR workshop on June 21-22 will be a time for volunteer SAR personnel to gather, share and discuss GIS technical strategies using MapSAR in the field. 

While MapSAR is designed for the wildland environment, this training session is not limited to wildland responders. At the recent National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Northeast Summit, MapSAR was successfully taught to a wide mix of public safety officials - including urban SAR, structural fire, and law enforcement personnel.

Cost: $10

A suggested donation of $10 per attendee is requested for this four day event (Training/Workshop). All proceeds will go to the Friends of Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center and local Mt. Shasta Ski Patrol.

For more information or to reserve a seat:

If you are involved with SAR and would like to partake in this exciting event please contact Cassie Hansen, to reserve a seat for the MapSAR training/workshop.

Dunsmuir, CA
Enjoy this Map Tour and get an idea of what is there waiting for you. Access the full map here.

Sponsored by the Esri Disaster Response Program in partnership with 

Find out who is registered below. Details on the SARGIS6 East will be released soon!