GIS Georeference: A Look Into ESRI’s Disaster Response Initiatives

By: Samuel Viglietti, Intro to GIS Student

Today we are faced with an ever-changing world due to the increase of global temperatures, rising sea levels all around the world; locally here in the US we face challenges such as wildfires and extreme freezes on the East Coast (just to name a couple) all of which are products of climate change. A recent study released by Dr. Camilo Mora (et al.), the research shows carefully laid out threats that humanity face on a global scale due to climate change. According to Dr. Mora his research analyzed over nearly 500 peer-review articles that list out way’s humans in their health, food, water, economy, infrastructure, etc. impact multiple areas of the climate. This year ESRI teamed up with Dr. Camilo Mora to create an interactive app that models a cumulative number of climate hazards that will likely occur under many different emission scenarios for any spot or place on Earth by 2100. The app that is created will show
visualized interactive situations with 11 different hazards including warming, droughts, heatwaves, fires, precipitation, floods, storms, water scarcity, sea level rise, changes in land use and ocean chemistry.

When using the app, ESRI suggests you visualize how cumulative climate impacts change by year. The time range can range from 1965 to 2095 currently but will add 2100 in the near future. The app also allows you to the level of carbon mitigation using a mitigation model based on a program called RCP 2.6. By clicking the experiments drop-down menu, you can visualize how impacts change under a moderate and a business-as-usual approach. While ESRI collaborated to make this informational app, ESRI also has collaborated with the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria came and ravaged the country. Geographic Mapping Technologies (GMT), ESRI’s distributor in Puerto Rico;
were brought in to work with the COE to help rebuild the country and found that other GIS related companies were making maps independently and not collaboratively, the GMT took action and with assistance from ESRI’s Disaster Response Program (DRP) integrated everyone’s GIS resources into one place and created apps that have helped to speed up recovery faster than the speed they were going.

With all forms of Internet and communication down, the DRP realized that there was “data all over the place but no one was using it” said Glenda Ròman, a GMT professional services manager. This led to the DRP pushing for everyone to work collaboratively. The Planning Board already had a license with ArcGIS Pro Online and with this, the DRP grew a network of GIS users and connections who have exported and sent data including photographs, documents with data and apps that people were using to help Puerto Rico rebuild. With updated versions of the GIS apps; companies, organizations and government subsidiaries were able to increase their work progress until they hit a wall with locating and rescuing survivors. ESRI’s DRP decided to get creative and tweak the software on the app including an offline geocoding locator. Our planet is going through many changes in terms of its climate and we are seeing its effects; luckily geoscience including GIS are making innovations to help us understand and teaching us how effective these changes are getting.

1. Mapping Cumulative Climate Change Hazards
2. ArcGIS Disconnected Apps Transform Hurricane Response in Puerto Rico

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