the-minute data, rapid generation of key products, and rapid delivery to the personnel who need the products most. Accurate information delivered quickly can save lives, reduce damage, and reduce the costs associated with emergency response. Yet speed can be achieved only if responders are adequately prepared, through training, planning, and the coordinated development of procedures.
To assess the current status of geospatial readiness, one needs to ask the following questions. Are there significant gaps in the integration of geospatial data and tools into emergency management, and is the rapid delivery of geospatial information to key responders and decision makers during an emergency sufficiently straightforward? Do problems arise when disasters span many jurisdictions, because of lack of interoperability of geospatial data and tools and lack of foresight and experience in working together? Would better integration of geospatial information into the emergency management workflow improve decision making at all levels? Is there a need for better training in the use of geospatial data and tools among emergency management officials, and are geospatial professionals sufficiently trained in emergency management processes and practices? Is the rapid delivery of geospatial information a critical issue, and can emergency management workflows and standard operating procedures be redesigned to take advantage of this information? Finally, would regularly scheduled simulation exercises help all parties to learn how to meet each others’ needs? These questions are very closely related to the committee’s charge and are investigated in detail in the following chapters.
As noted elsewhere (Bruzewicz, 2003; Cutter, 2003; ESRI, 2001; FGDC, 2001; Goodchild, 2003; Greene, 2002), there are substantial challenges and constraints in using geospatial data to prepare for the worst cases. Many of them have already appeared in the examples described above and in the literature. In Chapter 3 the nature of disaster management and the relevant national policy context are reviewed in detail. Then the challenges and gaps in our current ability to prepare and respond with appropriate geospatial data and tools are summarized, as gathered from the literature and from testimony offered to the committee. In Chapter 4 the implications of these challenges and gaps are assessed in the light of current technology and anticipated future developments.