Category: Public Safety

Public Safety Common Operational Picture Template v. 2.2 Released

The February 7, 2011 release of the Public Safety Common Operational Picture template for ArcGIS 10 addresses the following:

New Functionality

1. Added support for the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex 2.2

2. Added support for the dynamic Legend Widget and removed the static Legend contained in About link

3. Updated symbology for incident point, line and polygon features

4. Added a custom pop up widget to display feature information (aliases, field formatting, etc.)

5. Converted imagery hybrid basemap in to a web map that now includes the World Imagery ArcGIS Online service and a reference overlay from the local government geodatabase

Resolved Problems


Known Issues


Also note that a video on How to use the Public Safety COP Template for ArcGIS 10 has been posted to the Local Government Video Gallery.

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Australia Flooding Support

Since December 2010, floods have been hitting Australia, particularly in Queensland.  The Esri Disaster Response Team has been activated for this event. We are working with Esri Australia, whose Brisbane office was significantly impacted, to provide support.  There are several applications available through our disaster response portal for this event.  There is a Common Operational Picture (COP) for the Brisbane City Council, our Latest News map as well as a new Ushahidi Trends map.  As always you can request support directly via this link on the portal

The Brisbane City Council Flood COP is a map application that is now available to provide updated information. It shows the scope of flood response, including evacuation centers and accessible roads near Brisbane, Australia as well as GeoRSS news feeds from the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC).  The actual flood peak is also included.  The application was created and is maintained by Esri Australia.

The Latest News map contains geolocated social media from Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.  Social Media continues to grow as a valuable source of information to enhance situational awareness.  Additionally this application has GeoRSS news feeds from the ABC as well as information from Ushahidi for this event.  This is the latest version of the Social Media application that we used to support many events last year including the Gulf Oil Spill, the Fourmile Canyon fire, and Hurricane Earl and the Mount Merapi Volcano.  The source code for the application is available to download here.  One of the new functions in this version is the ability to let you change the social media keyword filter on the fly.  In this case the keyword is #qldflood but that can be changed to #vicfloods for example if you are interested in what people are saying about the recent flooding in the southernmost state of Victoria.

New for this event we put together a Trends map based on the Ushahidi feed set up by the ABC.  We’ve been working more closely with Ushahidi these days – some of you may have seen our press release last October announcing our Strategic Partnership.  Unlike pure social media, where the percentage actionable and geo-located  information can be quite low, a high percentage of the Ushahidi reports contain actual latitude longitude values that pinpoint the reported incident to an exact location.  The communities that post to Ushahidi during a crisis are dedicated and as a result the quantity of information coming from the feed can be overwhelming when consumed as individual incidents.  One way to pull meaningful information out of the feed is to visualize the data as a hot spot map instead of the individual points. This gives you a better sense of where the concentration of reports that are coming from.  You can click on the different categories on the left hand side to show only those categories as hot spots on the map.  Furthermore you can filter the data by time by clicking on the link on the bottom left and adjusting the time slider accordingly.  If you want to just see the concentrations of points as dots uncheck the “Show Reports” box.

While this hot spot function is a visualization technique in the web tier, we can also bring in the data from Ushahidi to ArcGIS Desktop via a custom tool.  One of the tech wizards in our group quickly developed an ArcGIS 10 Desktop add-in that connects to the Ushahidi feed and stores it locally in the geodatabase for further analysis.  This provides Ushahidi as a data source for further analytics using traditional GIS tools and operations like Kernel Density, Frequency, and Geostatistics.  You can download the Ushahidi add-in for ArcGIS Desktop here.

We have also dispatched our wildfire specialist Tom Patterson to Australia to assist (see the video). He brings along many years of experience mapping operationally on incidents and more recent lessons learned from the Gulf Oil Spill and also Mobile Mapping for First Responders.

While the impact of these floods are tragic, we stand by in admiration of the resolve of the Australian people and are ready and willing to do what we can to help expedite the recovery.


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Public Safety Resource Center Migration Complete

As many of you may have seen, the original Resource Center ( has been retired and we have migrated the Public Safety Content to the new ArcGIS 10 Resource Center ( The Public Safety Resource Center ( is now a part of the Local Government Resource Center.  This is due in part to the fact that many Public Safety agencies rely on traditional local government GIS shops for much of their base data.  Now there is single Local Government Information Model that supports the needs of Public Safety and Emergency Management.

Last fall we completed the updates to ArcGIS 10 for the Emergency Management templates.  These updates, along with new templates, are detailed in this blog post – ArcGIS 10 Public Safety Templates Released.  Here are direct links to the Public Safety ArcGIS 10 Templates:

All of the content from the 9.3 Resource Center has been moved.  Here are the links to the ArcGIS 9.3 content from the original Resource Center for your convenience:

9.3 Templates

9.3 Videos

All of the videos that were part of the Media Gallery are now in the Local Government Videos section –  Here are direct links to the 9.3 videos for your reference:

The Emergency Response Guide (ERG) Geoprocessing tools for ArcGIS have been very popular.  These tools and associated Flex widget are included in the Common Operational Picture (COP) templates.  This tool is also available directly from the Geoprocessing Resource Center.  Here are the direct links for this tool:

The location of Public Safety blog remains the same –  We are also on Twitter – and Facebook.  


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Mobile Mapping for First Responders

Last week at our headquarters we hosted a meeting of nearly 100 Public Safety and GIS Professionals as a part of the NAPSG Foundation User Group meetings series.  After opening remarks from Esri President, Jack Dangermond, we conducted a Wildfire mapping exercise and used our mobile technology to map the fire. One of the mobile tools used to map the fire was an iPhone. 

Since August, we have had a free iPhone application on the app store (  We have recently updated this application, now allowing users to collect GIS data directly from the iPhone. This builds on current technological trends, like harnessing the power of social media in a more focused way.  It also creates a vehicle to easily capture Volunteered Geographic Information.  This type of citizen-engagement-where anyone can supply critical situational awareness information during an emergency-is a growing trend.   Advances in our technology let our users tap into this information stream more easily and in a focused way.  The events of last week were really a milestone in broadening the access to GIS and supporting the public safety mission.

In the context of our exercise, traditionally at a wildfire, a GIS Specialist will make maps based on reports from the field and infrared imagery using our desktop tools and the Fire Incident Mapping Tools (FIMT).  Here’s an example of one of those maps from the Fourmile Canyon fire:

In this exercise, lead by our Wildfire Specialist Tom Patterson, participants used ruggedized devices (like those used in the Gulf Oil Spill), iPhones, and iPads to map the fire.  Leveraging GPS on the devices the mappers “walked the perimeter” of the fire and the information was captured in GIS.


The information collected on the devices is instantly available back in a Common Operational Picture (COP) application.


Additionally, teams in the field can be tracked (via the ArcGIS Mobile Field Crew Task).

So there you have it-some very exciting developments in GIS technology that we wanted to share with you.  Users data from their existing Esri infrastructure is now available for viewing and contributing to from modern devices like the iPhone or iPad.  We also have technology for the Windows Phone and Android.

Special thanks to Esri’s ArcGIS Mobile team for their support of the exercise and for Public Safety!

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Configuring the Esri Social Media / VGI Application

Last week, you may have read about lessons learned developing a web map for volunteered geographic information (VGI) and social media on the ArcGIS Server Blog.  This is an application that has evolved this year and has been used to support many disasters including the Gulf Oil Spill,  hurricanes, flooding in Pakistan and wildfires  This work has been featured in stories by Computerworld, Emergency Management Magazine, CNN and Fox News.  This web application is built with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript and combines ArcGIS Online basemaps, dynamic information from sources like the USGS and Pacific Disaster Center, Social Media and Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) via an ArcGIS 10 feature service

The source code for this application is available for download from  You can download and configure this application for use within your organization.  To get started there are a couple of steps that should be fairly straight forward for most web programmers.  These steps are outlined in the documentation that is included with the download.  First, set your extent.  Next, pick you map layers (either rendered as graphics or via dynamic map services).  Then, pick your social media filters, and finally, set up and configure your feature service. 

Here’s an example of the application configured to convey information to the public regarding a train derailment scenario that we’ve used in many of our demonstrations.


In this case the Social Media filters have been changed to “Louisville” to pick up Tweets, YouTube, and Flickr photos with that tag.

For more details about the application and configuring it check out the documentation that comes in the download package.

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US National Grid (USNG) Map Service Now Available

There is now a US National Grid (USNG) map service on ArcGIS Online.  This service contains continuous coverage of grid squares and center points at 100,000 meters, 10,000 meters and 1,000 meters.  The 100 meter grids and center points are available for select, highly populated cities within the United States with more updates on the way.  The REST end point for this map service is and can be consumed in various clients to ArcGIS.

An map is available with current hazards data and the new USNG map service.  This map is in the Esri GIS for Emergency and Disaster Management group.

You can also access this map on your iPhone or iPad.

This map services can also be easily configured within your Situational Awareness applications.  This service can simply be added to ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint (version 2.0 is now available).

To include the US National Grid Map Service in the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex simply add a line in the config.xml file:

<layer label=”US National Grid” type=”dynamic” visible=”true” alpha=”1.0″



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City of Frisco Wins Esri’s President’s Award for Their SAFER Program

This year at the Esri International User Conference, the President’s Award was given to the City of Frisco for its outstanding work.  Their program, called SAFER (Situational Awareness For Emergency Response), provides first responders with key information such as maps, floor plans, pre-plans, live video feeds, dispatch information and Automated Vehicle Location information.  They join other great organizations like the City of Philadelphia, The Nature Conservancy, and the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in receiving this honor.

SAFER is deployed on Mobile Data Computers (MDC) in the vehicles using GeoComm’s GeoLynx (built with ArcGIS Engine 9.3.1).  Dispatch and the Emergency Operations Center access the system via SAFER Maps (using a custom ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 web application).  The SAFER program started with the goal to ensure that public safety personnel had all the information they needed to provide for the safety of the school district.  Traditionally, key facility information for responding to an emergency at a school is paper based, making it difficult to access quickly when an incident happens.  Now, first responders have access to up-to-date data, when and where they need it, thanks to SAFER.  Besides just making a difference in terms of improving the safety of Frisco’s schools, what is truly inspiring about SAFER is that the city has accomplished what larger cities only hope for with a small staff in a department where GIS and IT are one.

The video of the presentation of the award is now on available to watch on the new Esri Video site.  Additionally, you can watch this on your iPod / iPhone, iPad or link from the Fire/Rescue and EMS Industry page.

Each year the User Conference offers many inspirational moments, from the Plenary Session, SAG Awards and Closing Session.  This year, one of the most memorable and inspiring moments was watching the City of Frisco receive the President’s Award.  The closing remarks by Frisco Fire Department Assistant Chief Paul Siebert really speak to the value of GIS to public safety:

“Firefighters respond to incidents like this every day and they call us heroes for that.  But now they are armed with information that GIS Professionals, just like you, are providing to us and we come home safer because of that.  In my book that makes all of you heroes just as much as anyone that puts on one of these.” -Frisco Fire Department Assistant Chief Paul Siebert, July 12, 2010.

Just last week the SAFER team was also honored by the Mayor at the City Council Meeting –

Congratulations to the City of Frisco on their great work!

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2010 ESRI Homeland Security Summit and UC Public Safety Events and Activities

ESRI Homeland Security Summit-July 10-13, 2010

The ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit is the only geospatial conference dedicated to homeland security.  However, it is not just about the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology.  The summit is aimed to provide insight into the challenges associated with meeting homeland security mission objectives from thought leaders within the homeland security community.  This unique forum then discusses how GIS technology can be applied to improve effectiveness, in situational awareness, critical infrastructure protection, and threat assessment.

Saturday, July 10th has a very full agenda with senior executives within The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) including a keynote address from Steven King-Division Director for the Contingency Planning and Incident Management Division and an in-depth discussion on Virtual USA by Dr. David Boyd-Director of Command, Control, and Interoperability Division.  In addition, Major General Reddel from the New Hampshire National Guard along with his colleagues Dr. Brian Cullis of the Air National Guard and Sean Goodwin from the New Hampshire Department of Safety will be discussing collaboration between organizations for better domestic operations during a catastrophe.  After lunch, the summit will reconvene back together for a panel session on information sharing where industry leaders will share their solutions and experiences and will be ready for questions.  Day one will wrap up with a look into FDNY’s GIS operations presented by Captain Steve Pollackov, and GIS demonstrations for Disaster Support and Homeland Security by ESRI’s team of technology specialists. 

Sunday, July 11th is equally as exciting as the first day with discussions on emergency management and communications, an overview of a geospatial response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and wrapping up with a panel discussion focusing of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation and the work they are doing to advance the effective use of GIS for public safety.  Additional details on the ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit can be found online.

ESRI International User Conference-July 12-16, 2010

On Monday, July 12, 2010, ESRI customers from across the globe will converge on San Diego to attend the world’s largest gathering of GIS professionals.  More than ever before, our Public Safety community is faced with many challenges requiring rapid changes in the way business is done. You’ll see how those challenges are met head-on at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference (ESRI UC). The weeklong GIS conference offers sessions, exhibits, and technical information for GIS professionals across all disciplines.


Some conference highlights, not to be missed, include:

Exhibits: Public Safety Showcase

  • -Visit the Public Safety Showcase (in Hall B1) to see GIS solutions for all aspects of public safety. The showcase will feature law enforcement, fire, homeland security, and emergency management solutions including mobile applications, incident analysis, and simulated disaster incident mapping. These applications are deployed using the Internet, servers, PCs, and handheld devices. You can get hands-on GIS experience; meet GIS users from police, fire, and emergency management communities; and see demonstrations of their work. Be sure to stop by our large-screen demo theater for the latest GIS solutions for public safety.    See the attached flyer for all of the details.  
    •   -Note the family friendly presentation in the Public Safety Showcase Demo Theater on Wednesday night!
  • -ESRI is proud of its partners dedicated to providing public safety professionals with geospatial solutions aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency in protecting the communities they serve. So don’t forget to stop by the ESRI Public Safety Showcase to visit with partners to learn more about their solutions and how they can help your operation be more successful in achieving mission objectives.
  • -Visit the new Operation SafetyNet demo area to see the four public safety workflow patterns-data management, planning and analysis, field mobility, and situational awareness-within the context of law enforcement, emergency management, and fusion center operations. Operation SafetyNet is organized to demonstrate how GIS supports individual segments and functions and can meet the needs of multiple users throughout an entire organization. From an incident commander confronting a flood to a chief of police managing gang violence to intelligence analysts and field personnel collecting reports of suspicious activity, enterprise GIS supports them in their workflows and missions. This support-much like a net-results in enhanced communication, collaboration, and coordination throughout the entire public safety domain.
    • -Three specific scenario demonstrations will be ran throughout each day of the exhibit:
      • -Morning Demo (9:00 – 11:00) – Gang activity in the midwest
      • -Noon Demo (12:00 – 2:00) – Emergency Management Operations in Louisville, KY
      • -Evening Demo (3:00 – 5:00) – A Counter Terrorism Scenario in Boston, MA

   Special Interest Group Meetings

We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Homeland Security GIS Summit and ESRI International User Conference.  Be sure to stay connected with the Public Safety Team and follow us on Twitter and Facebook throughout the week.


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Computerworld Article Highlights Oil Spill Interactive Mapping Applications, ESRI Web Resources

Check out ComputerWorld’s latest blog article titled “A social map of the Gulf oil spill.”

The story highlight’s the ESRI Gulf Oil Spill interactive mapping application that lets you see where people are who are talking about it on Twitter, in news reports and on YouTube. It also points out our ArcGIS Online Gulf Oil Spill Response group, where participants can view other maps relating to the spill.

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ESRI Assisting with Gulf Oil Spill and Tennessee Flooding

ESRI is providing a number of support activities for the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the recent flooding in Tennessee. Working closely with dozens of agencies and the Geographic Information System (GIS) community, ESRI has activated its Disaster Response Team to provide assistance to users in local, state, and federal government agencies as well as the private sector. The team is supplying software, technical support, GIS data, and personnel.

ESRI is also providing support and services through its disaster response web site. Resources available include continuously updated maps, data, and applications as well as links to incident sites and related Web pages.  As part of the site, ESRI launched an interactive map application that allows users to add points with links to online photos, Web sites, and YouTube videos. Visitors can add current information to the map and increase everyone’s awareness of activities related to this event. More details of this application are on the about page.

In addition, ESRI deployed an ArcGIS Online group for the oil spill that includes maps, data, Web services and applications.  The content is being published by ESRI and other organizations to support response and mitigation requirements.  The group currently features the following types of content:

  • Applications: ESRI Web mapping applications that combine ESRI maps with other types of information
  • Services: links to ArcGIS services directories with relevant data
  • Data and maps: links to downloadable data and maps and layer packages

Some of the ArcGIS content and services include an oil spill plume trajectory, an environmental sensitivity index map, electronic navigation charts, and more.


Concurrently, we’re supporting the flooding in the Southeast.  On our Southeast U.S. Flooding site we have an interactive map application built using the ArcGIS API for Flex Version 2.0 that contains information such as post event imagery from Metropolitan Government of Nashville, current weather information, news and YouTube videos.  More details are on the about page

In addition, an ArcGIS Online Group is also set up.

ESRI is working around the clock to supply technical support, software, data, maps, and other services related work. If you need assistance please use the forms below or contact the disaster help coordination team:

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