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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute

Mobile Geospatial Situational Awareness for Field and Command Staff During the Emergency Response Phase

Lead Investigators: Dr. Michael E. Hodgson and Dr. Duncan A. Buell


Time and situational awareness is most critical to forward deployed assets such as the Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams who are some of the first boots on the ground. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) S&T addressed this need for situational awareness immediately following a disaster by working with a remote sensing data provider, Pictometry, to develop the Real time Airborne Management System (RAMS). This system delivers data to a portable ground station in the field

To assist Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) teams in responding to the disaster, faculty (Michael E. Hodgson) and staff (Kevin Remington) from the GIScience and Remote Sensing Laboratory in the Department of Geography and faculty (Duncan Buell) from the Computer Science Department will continue the development of a prototype mobile geospatial application for recording, transmitting, and visualizing field collected, geospatial, and remote sensing imagery on mobile-held devices. The implemented solution will include 1) web-server geospatial collection/ distribution approaches for disaster-specific geographic information and RAMS imagery and 2) mobile collection/transmission approaches to send US&R field data to specified databases. The symbiotic mobile device application and geodatabase web server will be designed in a general framework for any mobile device but implemented specifically in this project for iPhone/iPad mobile devices. The implemented mobile-server solution will allow in-field personnel to collect and visualize RAMS images in near-real time and command center personnel to monitor progress of in-field personnel and damage information. In cases of diminished cellular communication, all geospatial data collected by mobile devices will be automatically cached on mobile device and may be uploaded upon returning to command center. The project will be developed with collaboration of DHS staff guidance and US&R participation.