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Author Topic: GIS for emcomm  (Read 5520 times)
KF7JCK
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Posts: 3




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« on: September 08, 2013, 09:27:00 AM »

Hi,
One key part of managing an incident is keeping track of the location of people, things, etc.

Do you use a GIS app?  If so, which one?  Both Depiction and Mappoint can integrate with APRS, which is pretty useful (but hardly the only requirement).  There are many other apps out there, too.

Being focused emcomm, I've got to stay away from anything that needs the Internet (google maps, etc).  Collaboration is nice, but standalone operation is a requirement.

I welcome your comments, ideas, recommendations, etc!

73s
David
KF7JCK
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6012




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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2013, 11:39:17 AM »

Most of the time for things like that the best, most handy way to do that is the old way.  Word of mouth and lists.  Back when I was at the comm center, we had lists of equipment and people, and if something was moved, it was reported and the list was updated.  Items and personnel were always "last reported at..." and it was fairly easy to update even if the item/personnel was moved.

Those transponders are fine--for the departments that have the money.  For us hams and for the majority of EMA departments, they were and are an added expense that is looked on as unneeded when budget matters come up.
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W6RMK
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Posts: 650




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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 05:38:30 PM »

Lots of folks are using the Garmin BaseCamp software (because it's free, it interoperates with the handheld Garmin GPS units that everyone uses, it ingests KML files, etc.)

ArcInfo (from ESRI)  is a defacto standard in the GIS world (much like AutoCad in drafting for small shops). There's also MapInfo (part of Pitney Bowes, now, I think).
Note that Google Maps *can* be run without internet connections
http://www.google.com/enterprise/earthmaps/deployment_options.htm

The real issue isn't so much the software, but the ongoing aspect of keeping your databases up to date, rolling updates out to the portable units, etc. Especially so with respect to integration with locally generated data (e.g. things like fire hydrant locations).

If you are willing to be tied to APRS, there's a variety of software out there, but the APRS world and the rest of the GIS world are fairly distinct and separate. They address very different needs and user populations.  I don't know that I would advocate APRS in a system that is going to interoperate with a local agency.

Bear in mind that GIS usage and technology is going to be continuously improving and changing. WHatever you do should allow for changes in the visualization and user software and for new forms of data ingest, while keeping your substantial investment in databases usable.  Make sure that data formats aren't too proprietary, and have some longevity beyond the tool of the day. 


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KF7JCK
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2013, 06:18:31 PM »

Great points.  It sounds like you've been down this road before.

David
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KF7JCK
Member

Posts: 3




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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2013, 06:20:49 PM »

You're right, there's nothing quite like a physical artifact!  We've got a PASSPORT board that does a pretty good job of tracking things.  I'm looking to up our game a bit, as well as map out things like floods, clouds of gas, limits of fire, etc.

David
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K4FMH
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2013, 12:34:14 PM »

I've been doing GIS since 1983 using Atlas*Graphics...it's come a long way as have the related spatial technologies (GPS, remote sensing, spatial statistics). I taught a graduate course on spatial analysis from 1996 to 2008 when I retired from teaching full-time.

While I've used ESRI's product line for years, it us expensive. They do have a citizens license somewhere on their website for $100 a year. But for hams and amateur radio use, I would recommend the open source QGIS (www.QGIS.org). Version 2.0 is a big step ahead and will rival ArcGIS in many functions. It uses Python scripts and has a growing community source of plugins.

Amateurs who program in Python could create links to APRS feeds, be a source for HSMM-MESH websites, and so forth. Since it's free, I would have a hard time justifying even the $100/year for ESRI's software. MapInfo? I'm not sure it is in the same ball park and the geodatabases must be converted to that format (unless its changed since I last used it).
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