Archive for August, 2010

Free preparedness eBook during September

Tomorrow is the first day of National Preparedness Month. Watch this space for some great events we have planned for the month, but you can start the preparedness month festivities early–if you sign up for the Depiction newsletter between now & the end of September, you’ll get our “Technology for Personal & Family Emergency Planning” eBook, free!

NOAA Weather Map Service

A customer asked if I knew of any sources for current hurricane info, so I did a search for “hurricane prediction WMS” and found this:

On the site, NOAA provides a set of Web Mapping Services (WMS) for

And more! Each services includes map layers for:

  • World Countries
  • World Rivers
  • World Lakes
  • Major Roads
  • Airport footprints

And more!

Being a WMS, all of the sources come into Depiction as images, so they will fill up your entire depiction area. Most of these will work better with large areas. You can put the links provided above (one at a time) into the Web serivces tab of the Add Content menu in Depiction, selecting the WMS option (see image). When you click Show content, you can then select the layer you want to view. You can do this multiple times with the same source or separate sources in the same depiction.

The Add Content Menu Web Service option

Let us know if you have any questions!

Happy Depicting!

UPDATE: There are also shapefiles of Hurricane Earl available from NOAA. Current predictions are here–the one you’ll want is the last ZIP file in the list. And the ‘cumulative wind history’ of Earl is here. It looks like NOAA will be keeping these up to date as time goes on. George will be using these shapefiles in the Depiction 101 webinar tomorrow morning.

New public service event webinars

During July, Summit County, OH AEC Dennis Conklin, AI8P, gave a very popular presentation on how he used Depiction before and during the Northeast Ohio ‘Tour de Cure’ bike ride fundraiser to build a communications plan and maintain situational awareness.

So much information was packed into that webinar that Dennis has agreed to give his presentation again, this time in two parts.

On Monday, August 30, at 7 PM EDT, Dennis will present part 1, showing how he built his plans beforehand in Depiction. You can register for this webinar at

On Tuesday, August 31, at 7 PM EDT, he will present part 2, showing how he took his “depiction” into the field where it enabled him to keep track of events as they happened–visually, and without Internet access. You can register for this second webinar at

These webinars are ideal for both Depiction users who want to use the software for their own public service events, and for anyone who just wants to see what the software can do.

Virtual Tabletop Exercise Tomorrow

A lot of great things have come out of the recent Depiction course at CSULB, things that should benefit all our customers eventually. The first of these will be tomorrow, when Kim Buike will host a live virtual tabletop exercise based on a scenario developed for the course.

During the exercise, Kim and three Depiction users from across the country will run through a search and rescue scenario set in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area in Southern California. Attendees will watch the scenario unfold from within Depiction, with commentary from Kim about what is happening, and how others can run similar exercises. We’ve never done a webinar quite like this one, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it goes! Click here to register.

Depiction & CSULB team up

This summer, Depiction Customer Engagement Director Kim Buike co-taught a course in Depiction for the California State University, Long Beach master’s program in emergency services administration. You can read all about it here, but my favorite parts are the student quotes:

“I would like to see the action plan developed for this scenario lead to the development of other action plans for many of the other risks facing the city of Downey,” said Michael Parino, a CSULB student with the Downey (Calif.) Police Department. “By developing response plans for earthquakes, flooding, explosions, etc., we become a more prepared community. The possibilities are really endless with this software. As long as you have data which can be illustrated in a map, whether it is a disaster, crime, or even home preparedness, Depiction can turn the data into a useful and powerful display.”

“As a training tool, I will use Depiction for monthly ‘watch’ training for briefings regarding crime trends. I will import crime statistics that will assist in identifying specific trends for better resource allocation and patrol response,” said Raul Ahumada, a CSULB student with the Seal Beach (Calif.) Police Department. “I already used Depiction in preparation for our 4th of July holiday weekend.”

Depiction 101 – Spreadsheets

Yesterday’s Depiction 101, focusing on the basics of using spreadsheets with Depiction, is now available for viewing:

Help the data jump

Eric Holdeman cited a study last week that is of definite interest to us: Disaster Resilience Indicators for Benchmarking Baseline Conditions, which looked at how to better measure preparedness quantitatively.

Eric pulled out five key “nuggets” that he summarized, and one in particular struck me as particularly relevant to Depiction:

Displaying the information on a map helps have the data jump out at you

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!