Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 WiSAR GIS Year in Review: Map Tour

Click on the link: Map Tour

In the year 2014, great advances were made in the use of geographic information systems for wildland search rescue. 
  • MapSAR and IGT4SAR were used to support a number of missing person search operations
  • Workshops were held across North America
  • There were several peer-review publications on the use of GIS in WiSAR
  • The US National Park Service has recognized the GIS Specialist role as a necessary incident command structure position during search operations
More important than the updates in technology, policy, or science, is the connection between the great people driving this movement. We have so much to celebrate - excellent work everyone and thank you for time and dedication to such a noble cause.

However, while much was accomplished this year, the reality is, GIS is still not widely used in missing person search operations and other SAR functions

What can we do in 2015 as a volunteer community to increase the adoption of GIS as a critical SAR function in North America and abroad? 

  • Develop simple to use geo-enabled applications for mission critical tasks? 
  • More SARGIS workshops? 
  • Form a recognized non-profit organization with operational capacity to help when needed? 
  • Present to emergency management and law enforcement agencies? 
  • Lobby to federal governments for more support?
  • Strengthen the alliance with GIS volunteers like GISCorps, MapAction, MAPS? 
  • Create a research and development center for WiSAR GIS? 
These are all ideas that have been discussed and are always on my mind. Now that the SARGIS Discussion Group has reached +600 members across the world I truly believe we have reached the critical mass to make global change. 

I think we can all agree, that someday, when a person goes missing, the use of GIS for planning, operations, logistics, command, and public information will be the "standard of care". Imagine that your loved one (a relative, a spouse, your child) was missing - how would you want the search management team to use geographic information?

Let's make 2015 a spectacular year and have a great time doing it - so that others may live... 

Please add comments below if you think we missed an event, have a case-study you think should be highlighted, or have ideas on how we can make a bigger impact. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Webinar: Mission Reporting and Search and Rescue Mapping for the MRA

Thanks to Pigeon Mountain Industries (PMI), Jon Pedder and I were able to brief the WiSAR Community on how the Mountain Rescue Association is using GIS to record mission data and we also discussed possibilities for how GIS could be used in the future. 

Here is the link to the PMI recording: 

"The Mountain Rescue Association has access to a mapping system called ArcGIS Online and it has been configured for the MRA Mission Reporting initiative. We will cover how this is being used for mission reporting and how it could be used to support operations, especially missing person search operations. The presenters, Paul Doherty and Jon Pedder, are both members of the Esri Disaster Response Program. Paul Doherty, PhD is the Technical Lead for the Program. He has 4-years with Yosemite Search and Rescue, and is also an active researcher who focuses on the use Geographic Information Systems for Search and Rescue. Jon Pedder is the newest member of the Esri Disaster Response Program and has 9-years volunteering with the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team." 

Here are some training videos created for the MRA Members.