ArcPad's Real-Time Use in Disaster earns award.
Fires see a technological world first
Friday, 10 July 2009 01:52
In a field of 100,000 Geographical Information System (GIS) users worldwide, Victoria Police will be internationally recognised as the first organisation to transmit critical information directly from a fire affected area to the command post. It may not mean much to a “lay” person but according to 30-year American fire mapping veteran, Tom Patterson, this is “a really big deal in the wildland fire service and the GIS world.” Equipped with handheld computers that had a digital camera and GPS built into them, police on the ground were able to send information about the progress of searches to a central point which was displayed on a map. Police at the command post could look at the map online and see the areas that had been searched in real time, enabling them to make fast tactical decisions. According to Acting Senior Sergeant Greg Barras from the Water Police there had been talk worldwide of the need for real-time information in natural disasters, but it wasn’t until the Victorian bushfires that Victoria Police proved it could be done. “We were police with no formal training in GIS but had a load of support with offers of assistance from all over the world. “Within days, Tom Patterson flew in from Redlands, California to help out. We had software companies sending us the technology, gratis.” Acting Senior Sergeant Barras, who will be leaving for the San Diego ceremony tomorrow to receive the special achievement award next Wednesday 15 July, said it was a great coup for the organisation. “We have been using similar technology for years, but the transmission of data from the fire front was world-first.”