If you attended our recent Webinar on creating Rapid Situation Maps, we were a bit embarrassed when we found that elevation data wasn’t loading. At that moment we blamed it on a new Beta build that we were running but as it turns out the service where we get the data changed their API and so the elevation quick start source wasn’t working for any build. We are in the process of fixing this problem and will be putting out a new build as soon as we can. If you have downloaded elevation previously for your area then it will probably still be in your cache but if you are a new user or are doing a Depiction in a new area then you will run into this problem. You can still get elevation data directly from the USGS web site. Watch this webinar recording to find out how.
James is currently the Emergency Services Officer (ESO) for the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol: Shelby North Carolina Composite Squadron MER050
He is responsible for all Emergency Services Operations, Training and Instruction to all personnel. Qualified Trainer/Evaluator in Communications, Ground Team Operations, Urban Search and Rescue, Advanced Land Navigation, Survival Training and NIMS operations. Coordinate large scale Operational Readiness Inspections (ORIs) utilizing the National Incident Management system, Multi-Agency and Multi-Jurisdictional exercise coordination for disaster response.
How long have you been using Depiction?
I have been using depiction for over 3 years for Emergency Services and Business applications.
I was searching for mapping software for use in simulated exercises for the business I was working for at the time. The drills were required due to the fact that I was the Facility Security Officer at a classified facility in Cary, North Carolina.
I hadn’t tried other mapping software, but I was using Microsoft PowerPoint, using images from mapquest, then having to manual place static content on the document.
I am the Emergency Services Officer at Shelby Composite Squadron MERNC-050 (USAF Auxiliary-Civil Air Patrol) in Shelby North Carolina. I am responsible for coordinating drills and working with other agencies on developing emergency plans for the Squadron. I apply the tools in depiction both at work and at CAP.
At Civil Air Patrol I run depiction for drills associated with natural disasters, aircraft crashes, coordinated search and rescue efforts (APRS Module) and mapping emergency service resources in the area (Fire Dept’s, Police Dept’s and Hospitals)
The integration of data to find resources, the ability to integrate weather patterns within the depiction and revealers to control content.
Civil Air Patrol had an exercise on the weekend of January 18th to conduct a search and rescue training on my 50 acre property which required 4 teams of varying skill levels (referred to as Ground Team Members [GTM] and Ground Team Leaders [GTL]). We used depiction on an overhead projector in the mobile incident command post and as reports came in over the radio we updated the depiction to reflect the search. The exercise was for the recovery of a downed aircraft with unkown injuries. The depiction software allowed the IC team to keep track of GTM/GTL movements, incident responses and resource allocations. At the end of the exercise we used the collected data to conduct the NIMS debrief to all the teams.
If you were to recommend Depiction to someone else how would you explain why you think they should buy it?
I would tell them about all of the features and the flexibility of the software, and I would go the distance and show them actual exercises I have set up and used. I strongly believe that no exercise or live incident would be complete without Depiction, the software streamlines management of the NIMS process, provides real time updates and provides the Incident Commander with an edge not available from drawn maps. The weather integration, APRS add-on and the ability to take real time updates via email keeps everyone in constant communication. It is my responsibility at the Squadron to ensure accurate reporting of the incident, maintain the safety of the ground and air personnel and coordinate with other agencies to respond to life threatening events. I would not trust any other software but Depiction to ensure I can execute all of the aforementioned.
Our geo-server that serves out some of the quick start data was infiltrated by some geo-worms and had to be put down for awhile. We hope to have a new server up shortly. The main one that many people use is the Elevation (Depiction) there is however an alternate elevation source which is the one you should choose for the moment. The following are the QuickStart data sources that are affected.
- Elevation(NED 30m – Depiction
- Historical Hurricane Tracks
- State and Province Boundaries
- Tornado Tracks
- US Congressional Districts
- US County Boundaries
- Water Bodies
We will let you know when this has been resolved.
We have been busy behind the scenes for the last few months. Below are some of the things we have been working on.
Laying groundwork for Version 2.0
Our dev team is busy laying out the groundwork for our next version. In the next few months we hope to have a list of potential features and hope to get your input on what you would like to see. But you can always give us that feedback via the Depiction get satisfaction site.
Some of the major features we are considering are:
- Increased number of file formats for import and export
- More sophisticated printing
- Custom initial boundaries ie irregular polygons
- Resize boundaries
- A custom tiler – allow user to enter api info for a custom tiler like google
- Local Source tiler – allow the use of local tiling sources ie streets and trips
- Being able to view many more elements ie 100,000s
- Categorized elements ie elements with behaviors and other categories
- Improved EID handling – ie ability to change existing property name to EID or to designate a property as the EID property.
- General simplification and user friendliness enhancements
We have scores of other minor changes on the list as well.
I had indicated in an earlier post that 1.4.1 might be the last free update. I think I was overly optimistic. The reality is that the service providers that we get the free data from have a tendency to change how they serve out their data which in many cases requires us to change our program. USC geo-coder is the service we use to geo-code addresses and they are changing their API and so we will have to come out with a new version. So we might still have have several minor releases before Version 2.0 comes out.
New Web Site
I don’t know if all of you have been as frustrated by our front page as I have been and finally we are doing something about it. Hopefully by mid to late July we will have a new website with a navigation bar. The front page is going to be very different but most of the inner pages will have pretty much the same content. Below is a shot of the new front page.
We have a new add-on in development. This add-on will let you draw on the data that exists within OpenStreeMap. OpenStreetMap has many data elements such as police stations, fire stations, schools, hospitals etc. With this add-on it, will add specific quickstart data sources to your list. The one down side of this source is that since it is crowd sourced it may not contain all of the data for your area. One solution of course if for you to go in to openstreetmap and enter all of the data and then it would show up. We will have more on this later as we figure out exactly how it will work.
So that is just a brief summary of what is going on at Depiction. We want to thank all of you for continuing to be loyal Depiction users.
We have posted a new version of the Depiction 1.4 User manual on the website. It can be downloaded here.
So we are frantically trying to get version 1.4 ready for release. We keep finding little problems or new ideas that keep pushing the release date out. At the moment we are shooting for the afternoon of March 28th. Which makes the topic “What’s new in release 1.4″ perfect for the Webinar on the 28th. Once we have it nailed down for sure I will make another post.
As part of our blog series to highlight our Depiction Preferred Consultants (DPCs), this week we introduce Russell Deffner.
Depiction Preferred Consultants (DPC) are a great asset to Depiction and we’re happy to have them as part of the Depiction family. These folks offer services like training, project assistance and even full Depiction implementation to organizations interested in or already using Depiction. We’re writing a series of blogs to highlight the strengths of each of our DPCs to expand on the resources that support Depiction. This week we’re featuring Ric Skinner.
Ric Skinner of The Stoneybrook Group, LLC is a Certified GIS Professional with over 30 years of professional experience in hospital & healthcare preparedness, health geographics and environmental management. While The Stoneybrook Group is based in Massachusetts it is available to provides services and grant collaboration regionally and nationally. Ric is the book editor and a chapter author of GIS in Hospital and Healthcare Emergency Management. He is an active member of the International Assn. of Emergency Managers (IAEM), Urban & Regional Information Systems Assn. (URISA), and other professional organizations and their listservs. Following the old adage “if I give you a fish you will eat for one meal; if I teach you to fish you will never go hungry,” Ric’s consulting objective is to teach others how to use GIS to meet their needs for assuring that the right people, have the right information, at the right time and in the right format. While he has used ESRI GIS software since the late 1980s, he recognizes that many small organizations and budget-strapped municipalities cannot afford the investment of money and people for a GIS that has many features and functions they really don’t need. That’s why he now focuses on the “leaner and less costly” GIS capabilities that Depiction provides.
I have had the pleasure of working with Ric both virtually and in person. I appreciate his knowledge of GIS, healthcare and policy affecting both, and his desire to foster collaboration and effective use of Depiction. Ric is very enthusiastic about GIS (he has been called a “GIS evangelist”) and about Depiction, both in its current functionality and its potential. We have featured him in two Depiction Perspectives interviews (June 2010 and June 2011), and several blog posts.
For the past year or so, Ric has been working with Chris Floyd of Disaster Resistant Communities Group, to put on the Formidable Footprint online tabletop exercise series. He uses Depiction to produce interactive and static maps that illustrate the location and effects of the disaster for each innovative, free monthly event.
National Preparedness Month is observed each September in the US. It’s a time when Americans take simple steps to prepare for the unknown. Depiction is partaking in this year’s event by featuring Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and how they use Depiction to prepare for such events as wild fire, potential security threats and scenarios on chemical leaks.
This webinar is free to attend! Alan Woodward, EOC Planning Sections Chief at LANL, will highlight several tabletop exercises, scenario simulations and take questions from attendees. This webinar is great for individuals, organizations and companies interested in preparedness planning and consequence assessment. Alan comments that LANL uses Depiction for its “ease of use, flat learning curve, professionalism and fast in-field collaboration capability”.
Attendees will learn how Depiction can be used to create simulations and facilitate ‘in the moment’ cooperation whether for a national laboratory, your neighborhood, fire department, police department, local government organizations or emergency field teams.
Alan Woodward joins us as our guest presenter September 22nd at 10:30am PST. He has worked in the Emergency Operations Division for 10 years as an analyst, emergency planner, and Section chief with over thirteen years experience developing geographic information systems (GIS) and GIS products. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Washington State University (in Physics) and a Master of Science degree from Oklahoma State University (in Plant and Soil Sciences). Currently, he is focused on developing GIS applications for emergency responders that can be used in an EOC or at the site of an emergency.
Also joining in to field questions and provide additional information are Rachel Hixson, Dave McClard and Bill Purtymun.
Rachel Hixson is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist with a Master of Arts degree in Geography from Arizona State University. She is helping to develop the GIS capabilities of LANL’s Emergency Operations Center. She has also been working on reverse plume modeling for a national bio-surveillance program at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for three years.
Dave McClard works in the EO-EM Group as an Emergency Manager. Current responsibilities: Focus on response management, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) operability, planning and preparedness activities, communication operations, aviation operations, and wildland fire operations. Dave began emergency management work in 1986 as a search and rescue (SAR) pilot and search and rescue trainer. His last five years were spent as the State Emergency Services Director and squadron commander for an auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
Bill Purtymun originally became involved in emergency management as a Firefighter III/ EMT Paramedic. He graduated from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology with a BS in Geology. He has been employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1989, initially as a Site Safety Officer for a non-reactor nuclear facility. In the mid 1990’s he became a LANL Emergency Manager and Incident Commander for the Emergency Operations Division. For the past several years he has worked in Hazard and Consequence Assessment at the LANL Emergency Operations Center. In his spare time he volunteers with the local ski and mountain bike patrol and is a Nationally Registered Paramedic. He is currently working on his masters in Emergency Management through Arizona State University.
Join us on September 22nd at 10:30am PST to learn more about how your organization can be better prepared, cross collaborate more efficiently and benefit from the Depiction software platform.