Situational Awareness for Public Safety

From mapping to ArcGIS Online applications, situational awareness is improving by utilizing the latest tools in GIS.

Using applications available through ArcGIS Online such as Web AppBuilder and Operations dashboard, combined with field applications (Survey123, Collector and Workforce), Quartic Solutions is able to bring much needed situational awareness and coordination to crisis management. By providing a platform that incorporates pre-plan maps with live up-to-date information from first responders on the ground, agencies can respond to emergencies quicker and more efficiently.

Currently, many government emergency management agencies are mapping their pre-event plans on large plotter sized paper maps. During the event, these maps were used in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and would be marked up with colored markers and sticky notes to keep track of the movement of personnel and infrastructure. If a crisis were to happen during an event the maps could be confusing and could not depict real-time situations. The maps were often updated in response to what was happening, rather than informing the decisions.

In addition, ArcGIS Online applications provide multiple agencies with the unique opportunity to coordinate with each other. This can be especially useful in events that cover large geographic areas, such as races, that may cross several municipal boundaries. Typically, in such scenarios, each agency would keep their own records of incidents, where their personnel are, how many people visited aid stations for assistance, etc. Now, they can see, in real time, what the other agencies are dealing with to better prepare their own assets and to help assist other agencies if needed.

Web AppBuilder

ArcGIS Online’s Web AppBuilder allows users, with very minimal training, to be able to digitally map pre-plan maps rather than having to rely on paper maps. In the EOC, during an event, these maps can be updated as assets move and change with the event. In addition, by creating fields such as status, priority areas can easily be highlighted in the maps to draw attention. By creating a digital map online, users can now easily search or filter the data in the maps to focus on a particular area or asset.

In addition, the situational awareness widget in Web AppBuilder can be used if an incident happens to quickly find the nearest resources such as hospitals or aid stations or to better understand the demographics.

Mobile App Development

Mobile applications allow the maps the show real time data and movement. Collector for ArcGIS gives staff in the field the ability to update the map with more current locations of infrastructure or personnel using a mobile device. These updates would show up in the map in the EOC as they are being made.

Using Workforce, the EOC can easily see where staff resources are moving during an event using GPS tracking. In a crisis this information would help to quickly identify who should respond where. Custom surveys can be created using Survey123 to provide the ability for field crew to send up-to-date information to the command post. One real world way this has been used has been to monitor the status of city-run emergency shelters during a fire. These shelters were able to use Survey123 to report how many people had checked into the shelters and the current status of their supplies. In addition, this could be used at an event to record the number of people seeking aid at aid stations, or for vendors to report the status of their shops and number of injuries in a crisis.

Operations Dashboard

The operations dashboard brings all of this information together to provide a common operational picture. By providing charts and analytics as well as quick statics on all of the information from the field and mapping application, emergency management personnel can make better informed decisions in a crisis. Operations Dashboard also provides an easy way to share information with other agencies without having to give them access to your editing map. A dashboard can be set up to show quick statistics and only the relevant information that needs to be shared with other agencies. This allows other agencies to quickly get the information they need. Operations dashboard also provides an easy to read interface that highlights the relevant information, giving the information in the map more context.

For more information on how Quartic Solutions is using ArcGIS Online applications to provide situational awareness in crisis management, contact Quartic Solutions at

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