Friday afternoon’s session on technology gave participants a glimpse into the power of GIS. As Laura Blaul, Kate Dargan and Jennifer Schottke explained, geographic information systems (GIS) brings mapping technology into the service of the community, allowing residents and firefighters to create a common view of risks. Each presenter demonstrated innovative fire safety applications for GIS tools that can serve as catalysts for community dialogue and action.
Blaul, the Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal for the Orange County Fire Authority, showed how color-coding parcels on a risk map helped motivate homeowner action and allowed the county to measure mitigation program results over a three-year period.
Dargan, former California State Fire Marshal and co-owner of technology firm Intterra, provided more details on how Orange County’s system worked using a blend of all kinds of data to create a shared view of fire risk in the context of the county’s Ready, Set, Go! program. The scalability of the information allows users to “make it personal.”
ESRI’s Jennifer Schottke coordinates the software development and services company’s public safety industry marketing activities. She covered the basics of GIS and demonstrated the use of the web-based ArcGIS Explorer portal. A draft map of Firewise Communities/USA sites showed the potential of this tool for easy user access to real-time information about mitigation work and fire incidents.