Red RiverValley Flooding and GIS
By Steve Swazee, Co-Chair, Emergency Preparedness Committee
In response to this spring’s flooding in the Red River Valley, the Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Geographic Information provided geospatial support that was both dynamic and ground breaking.
Leveraging lessons learned from participation in the Republican National Convention (RNC) security effort, the EPC deployed an array of tools that allowed volunteers from around the state to work collaboratively in a virtual production environment. Some of those tools included a Microsoft SharePoint for exchanging administrative files and information; Jabber Instant Messaging Service for dynamic group awareness and coordination; high capacity, high speed, redundant servers for storage of standardized maps; and a GeoMoose-driven web interface (SharedGeo) for distribution of product.
EPC volunteers used these tools in combination with “On the Job Training” to create templates and approaches that delivered 10 KM U.S. National Grid (10x10 kilometers in extent, 1:24,000-scale) maps for the entire Red River Valley, and 1 KM maps (1:6,000-scale) for populated areas. Of particular note, the combination of standardized maps that could be updated as new information came in, along with web access via the SharedGeo interface, provided responders with 24-hour access to the most current map products available. Furthermore, this approach allowed the EPC and the Land Management Information Center to collaboratively produce, in a matter of hours, over 200 1 KM USNG maps that Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management used to conduct the state’s official damage assessment for this federally declared disaster.
This absolutely unique effort was one of many that led FEMA’s field representative to describe Minnesota’s geospatial response to the Red River Valley flooding as “astounding”. In addition, the National States Geographic Information Committee has asked the EPC to produce a 60-minute national level WebEx on this response effort for release sometime this fall.
For those who would like to know more about this effort, two sites created by the EPC and LMIC are still active:
Also worthy of note is the complementary work of council member Tim Loesch, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who used LiDAR data that he obtained just prior to the flood to produce 2-foot contours for the entire Red River Valley. His work was used on maps produced by the EPC, as well as in applications like the Red River Basin LiDAR Product Viewer.
There were many lessons learned from this event that will be used to facilitate coordination and enhance delivery of geospatial services during future disasters. It is anticipated a formal after-action report will be released by July 1.