The ArcPad Team Blog

Unofficial stuff from the team behind the World's leading mobile GIS platform

Saturday, March 14, 2009

ArcPad 8 - Victorian Bushfires 2009

The bushfire disaster that wreaked havoc and devastation across Victoria on February 7 has been unprecedented in our lifetime. The scale of the damage and the subsequent program to recover communities and get lives back on track has also been something never before faced by our emergency services.

The massive task of geographic information management and its use in the field is in full swing. Maptel is currently assisting Victorian Police Search and Rescue with their field GIS tasks, and Elvin has brought together many of our partner organizations to provide aid and assistance to the disaster recovery. ESRI, Trimble, Motorola, Telstra, Navteq and Microsoft have contributed already and we have hardware, software, data and support in the field now. Now that the immediate fire emergency has passed in the majority of areas, the field GIS needs and requirements of the situation have grown and developed, and we are working to encourage the cooperation between our partner organizations and the emergency services tasked to deal with this horrific event.

As part of the program, Maptel, with technical assistance from RIA MobileGIS, is working in close cooperation with the Victoria Police and has developed and rolled out an electronic field data capture methodology to replace the current paper based format. Utilizing the many benefits and features of ArcPad 8.0, the custom application is allowing search officers in the field the freedom to capture data and log findings in real time using ArcPad 8.0's server synchronization capabilities using the device modem via the mobile phone network. The search status is being updated on a server in real time at VicPol Water Police headquarters in Williamstown Victoria - 75kms away!

As a result, the need to carry reams of paper and repeatedly write the same data, such as their name and police number, time and again has been removed. Officers involved in the current trial have no previous GIS experience but have been trained, in the field, in the use of mobile devices, ArcPad 8.0 and the custom application. The logical workflow of the applet combined with the ease of use for ArcPad has meant many self confessed "Technophobes" have grabbed the technology with both hands and run with it. The concept that ArcPad is for experienced GIS Professionals alone has surely been put to bed by this live, real time, field deployment!

Additionally, operational commanders are now getting more up-to-date data and are able to more closely analyze the search and recovery program using the powers of ArcGIS as part of the overall Operation. Tom Patterson, ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist has spent three weeks on the ground in the fire zone assisting local command and operational staff with many aspects of the operation and has kept us up to date with many video reports - including the "eureka" moment of the first successful data synchronization! See Tom's recording of the historic moment below.