It seems that storms are more intense these days, with the “super derecho” and hurricane Sandy of 2012 and the incredible flooding in Colorado this September. The need to connect the dots between citizens and emergency management officials has never been more important. The Center for GIS at Towson University has been helping the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) do just that, with spatial analysis, GIS applications, staffing, and technical assistance, for over 10 years. Much of our work with MEMA has been to put dots on a map in support of their various missions. Most recently, we put dots of a different nature (actually little squares) on a dashboard.
All About the Osprey Dashboard
The Osprey Dashboard provides state officials and the public with a statewide view of several real time data feeds related to emergency preparedness and response. The data includes power outage, NOAA weather alerts, traffic congestion and lanes closed, hospital emergency room status, and shelter status. The Osprey Dashboard leverages these data feeds, which have been used in MEMA’s Osprey EOC mapping application for several years, by continually monitoring the data for threshold triggers. When a threshold is met, a tile in the grid that represents the MEMA regions changes color (traffic light green, yellow, or red). Touching or clicking a tile shows the alert details for each category by county in a popup. Clicking on the specific feature in alert status brings up a map or webpage, either from the authoritative source of the data, or a map derived from that data hosted at MEMA, where you have the choice to explore further, like MEMA’s Power Outage Page. The concept is to quickly be able to see status across the state, investigate further as needed, and follow recovery efforts in progress on your desktop or tablet browser.
While much of the Osprey work is done by our full time professional staff, part of the CGIS mission is to provide students with real world experience. Kurt Karolenko, a particularly talented student programmer, supported the recent Osprey Dashboard work by streamlining the underlying code base to make the application load quickly, and by reorienting the dashboard grid to allow for future data to be added. Stream gauge flood data and local government data (such as emergency school closings by jurisdiction) will be added soon. You can hear about Kurt’s work in his own words in the video below.
Hopefully, our efforts will connect the dots to help inform citizen and state actions during and after the next big event.