The Center for GIS (CGIS) has been working with Maryland Emergency Management Agency  (MEMA) to update their mapping and GIS capabilities. While much of our effort of late has been to retool MEMA’s emergency management mapping application, OSPREY, we recently were tasked to develop a publicly accessible chart and map page to show total power outages across the state.  With a quick turnaround needed for a Hurricane tabletop exercise and a requirement to support tablets and other devices, our team came together brilliantly to devise an elegant multi-platform solution. The final revisions and code update was sent to MEMA on Friday June 29th at 6 pm. Four hours later, Maryland was hit with a Derecho, a wide-spread storm with fast moving storms and near hurricane force winds. Over the weekend, our dedicated staff supported MEMA in getting the power outage page up on their website, along with supporting other EOC activities.

Another rewarding outcome of this project and the work that we do in general is the ability to employ students in real world projects. In this case, we were able to engage one of our student employees Brad Smith, a promising developer, to work with the charting JavaScript library. Providing this type of real world experiences is integral to our mission at Towson University. Brad shared the following remarks about the project:

“On the OSPREY project I was introduced to and used multiple API’s with the help of Melanie Bruce.  The project was mostly executed with various forms of JavaScript and provided an excellent out of the classroom experience.  I see mobile technologies like smart phones and tablets as the future medium of choice for all user interaction with the internet, so I really enjoy being able to work on real projects that are geared towards both pc and tablet use.  I hope the power outage chart was of useful for people affected by this weekend’s storm.”

It was truly gratifying to be able to have our work ready just in time to support a large scale event, to play a part in provided relevant information for our fellow Marylanders in a time of need.