Web Application Combines Mapping and Analysis for Australia Floods

Anyone Can Visualize Public Reports, Response Information

Esri developed a newly launched web application that provides mapping and analysis to enhance Australia flood information supplied through the Ushahidi social network. The network allows people to report incidents via SMS, e-mail, or the web. The information is categorized and analyzed using geographic information systems (GIS) technology to provide hot spot visualization. By combining web GIS capabilities with Ushahidi data, anyone can view reports of flood incidents, damages, requests for help, and response requirements in a map context.

The application allows people to easily view the density or clusters of multiple events, such as property damage, roads affected, and hazards. These density color-coded hot spots illustrate geographic areas where similar requests, statements, and issues are clustered. This allows both government officials and the public to identify problems or issues reported by a number of people in a common area.  They can better understand the distribution of reports by category and by time.

“Ushahidi information, combined with ArcGIS, provides a timely and relevant map-based picture,” says Russ Johnson, director of public safety, Esri. “What’s unique about this site is the analytics involved. It’s more than just dots on a map. Esri developed this application to organize a lot of data and provide a better understanding of the data quickly.”

The application demonstrates how GIS can analyze and transform large volumes of data into actionable intelligence. Background map data or basemap layer options include street maps, satellite imagery, topographic maps, and more. In addition, the data can be visualized over time to understand both spatial and temporal trends together. A temporal tool is available to present data for a particular day or range of days. It allows you to select multiple days on the map chronologically with the “time-slide tool.” As dates move sequentially, the updated data is automatically displayed for the indicated time period.  This provides a visual understanding of how an incident evolves over time.

Since December 2010, the Esri disaster response team, as well as ESRI Australia Pty. Ltd., has been working to support response to this incident. There are several applications available through the Esri disaster response portal. For instance, there is a common operational picture (COP) for the Brisbane City Council that was developed with the assistance of ESRI Australia. People or organizations affected by the flood can request GIS support directly through the portal located at esri.com/australia.

[Source: Esri press release]

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