2014 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards

Colorado DHSEM

A cloud-based system collects, maps and shares disaster area information with state decision-makers.

2014 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards

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Last September, rainfall forced nearly 18,000 Colorado residents from their homes and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the state's infrastructure. The Colorado Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management needed a faster way to track where flooding and damage were occurring. Faced with the need to coordinate hundreds of response personnel and to brief executive decision-makers, the DHSEM needed a platform for sharing information and performing analysis in real time.

Colorado State Emergency Operations Center staff coordinate response and resources. [September 2013] Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Public Information Office

Colorado State Emergency Operations Center staff coordinate response and resources during a September 2013 flood event.

The agency deployed Esri's ArcGIS Online to gather information from a wider range of stakeholders and then share insights on impacted areas. A cloud-based platform for mapping and data management, ArcGIS Online allowed the DHSEM to collect data quickly and then share continually updated maps showing road closures, traffic control points, evacuation areas, damaged facilities and georeferenced aerial imagery.

The platform also played a key role in the response to the massive Mesa County mudslide in May. "It has reduced duplication of effort and enabled new ways of thinking of how to help each other during a large disaster," says Dave Hard, director of emergency management in the DHSEM, which is part of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

"The timely sharing of the data also helps in decision-making" on resources, policy-making and budget planning, says Colorado DHSEM director Kevin Klein, who plans to use the platform to predict and mitigate natural disaster risks in the near future. "Any hazard I can prevent, I'm much better off than trying to respond to it later," he says.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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