Like most of you, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has touched me and has left me angry and sad at the same time. I guess I find the situation very disturbing as I have a small personal connection to the region, having lived some 4 years along the NW Florida Gulf Coast near Destin & Fort Walton Beach. We spent several years playing with our kids along snow white beaches of the Emerald Coast and even saw the birth of child #3 while we were there as Paige was born in Ft Walton Beach and experienced her first days at the beach on the beautiful beaches of Destin, FL.
For me, I have awesome memories of spring and summer days fishing in the Gulf where I have some great fishing tales and memories of catching grouper, yellow fin tuna, mahi mahi, and other tasty species commonly found in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It saddens me to wonder what will become of the beautiful beaches, the turquois waters, and the incredible wildlife and sensitive habitats that support them. I wonder if Paige will ever see the beaches as we remember them.
Today I received a very informative update from Drew Stephens, Director of thegisinstitute.org as he describes in his newsletter the efforts of GIS professionals (volunteers) working with the Houma Incident Command Post (ICP) in Louisiana (Drew is a GIS Unit Lead) in response to the BP oil spill… an impressive and amazing story… kudos and congrats to all the volunteers for their amazing efforts.
This from Drew as he describes how GIS technology and GIS professionals have stepped up in masses to help with the response…
At first, GIS staff & products were primarily serving US Coast Guard task forces on the water, and overflight / plume mapping. The team quickly migrated away from the fragmented skills, flash drives and personal laptops, to a networked drive with a file geodatabase, then to an Enterprise SDE and ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Mobile figured prominently into the overall design, and by last Friday, The Louisiana National Guard was posting data directly to a server from the field. There are now over 150 layers of base map and operational data served to users of ArcGIS desktop, a browser-based Flex viewer and a Google Earth app. The system, which would have normally taken a year or more to plan and implement, was fully operational in less than two weeks. Map requests were dominating the GIS staff time, so standardized map products were created on a schedule, each following a data deliverable to the team – for example, the twice-daily airborne SLAR imagery would be followed by a map product available from the document management team.
The range and depth of talent was truly remarkable. As the demand for GIS products and services grew, so did the GIS team, and its ability to deliver. Federal and Intelligence assets were put into play against the spill, as were staff. The GIS lab was a common stop by visiting Admirals, Captains, Colonels, and many others… There are now many more senior-level administrators who understand the power of GIS! I just returned from 21 days of service, resting and standing-by to go back…
Drew signed off in his report with the following message… it’s tough to watch the news these days without being swept-up in the anger and blame – please know, that regardless of your take on all of this, there are many hard-working and passionate oil spill responders working really long hours with no time off in support of this ecological disaster. Thanks for your support! See more at http://thegisinstitute.org/
Kudos and congrats to Drew and all the GIS professionals and other volunteers along the Gulf Coast… indeed we are all proud of you and applaud your efforts