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SARScene 2015 and Washington DC Trip Report

As I fly back to California, I reflect on a fun and productive week and a half.

Last week I attended the 2015 SARScene in Prince Edward Island, Canada. On Thursday, I helped Norman Deschamps teach a workshop on SAR Explorer (SARX) which had students from multiple provinces. All students agreed they will use SARX for future operations and want to learn more about MapSAR and IGT4SAR for advanced mapping. Norm really broke it down and made it easy to follow, great course.


Then on Friday night, I helped “Team SAR” put together some solutions for combining an online / offline platform for hasty search response. This included a wireless server that can work without internet for signing in volunteers and providing them with a pdf map. When they return within range of the wifi router, it will automatically grab their gps track data. This solution was named “Blue Diamond” and created by Michael Coyle, Thierry Des Trois Maison, and Cameron Dykeman (the night shift). Agata Lawrynczyk built her first ever web mapping application (using ArcGIS Online Web AppBuilder) which contributed to MapSAR Online version 4. This app allows you to very quickly plot the initial planning point, draw an assignment, and print a map. Very simple, but very useful. In the end “Team SAR” won the hackathon!


The GitHub repositories for each solution are public here:

  • Blue Diamond https://github.com/SARscene
  • MapSAR Online https://github.com/pjdohertygis/MapSAROnline
MapSAR Online can produce a quick map and connect first responders with GIS Analysts working remotely.

After a traditional maritime “kitchen party” on Saturday night in PEI, I said farewell to my Canadian counterparts, and continued on to meet with colleagues from the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation in Washington D.C. There we met with representatives from the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team and the National Association for Search and Rescue. As an outcome, the NAPSG Search and Rescue Workgroup now has an informal partnership with FEMA and NASAR to share best practices and hopefully form a more strategic partnership in the future to support the development of standard operating guidelines, symbology tools, and training. 

Needless to say, it was a big month for GIS in SAR. More announcements to follow at SARGIS7, see some of you there!

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