building, were also lost. Another copy of the data was stored on computers in the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications building two blocks north of the World Trade Center, but this building was abandoned shortly after the twin towers collapsed and the data were rendered useless when dust and fumes from the collapsing buildings permeated the area and all power and communications were lost. Thus, despite extensive efforts to prepare for such events by establishing the EOC, the first maps distributed in support of the response were produced from a database stored at Hunter College, used primarily for research and teaching, which fortuitously was available for use in response.
A combination of factors culminated in an unprecedented use of geospatial data and tools. First, the devastation was beyond the imaginative capabilities of emergency management professionals—there was simply no appropriate script for such an event—and the demand for information proved to be immense. Second, Manhattan is unique in the United States because of the density of its high-rise buildings, the complexity of its infrastructure, and the value of its real estate. Because of this, and the logistical needs that follow, the City of New York had already undertaken intense mapping efforts, resulting in the production of highly accurate geospatial databases. Third, even though this was a very large disaster, the scale of events in New York was highly localized, with primary impacts concentrated in a small geographic area that could be mapped and imaged comparatively easily and quickly. These three factors combined to make both imagery and maps particularly useful.
The geospatial operations center was moved to Pier 92 on Friday, September 14th, and organized into the Emergency Mapping and Data Center (EMDC). Equipment and software were donated by numerous vendors, and New York State contracted for and provided the city with aerial imagery, detailed elevation data, and thermal data on a daily basis for six weeks. Eventually, more than 100 volunteers assisted in responding to more than 3,000 individual requests for geospatial information in support of the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. Responders were able to track mobile offices, medical support teams, heat from the fires, hazards, debris, and the daily progress of the search teams using geospatial data and tools.
It is clear that the primary responders, the New York Fire Department (FDNY), were able to make extensive use of maps and remote-sensing data during this disaster (see Figures 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 for examples). Geospatial data and tools played a major role in rapidly integrating, ana-