earlier National Research Council (NRC) study: “Much of the information that underpins emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation is geospatial in nature” (NRC, 2003, p. 1). Without knowledge of where the event has occurred, the area it has impacted, the nature of impact in each part of that area, or the locations of shelters and potential responders, and without access to the tools to analyze such information and to present and distribute it in useful form, the eventual impact of the event will necessarily be greater than it need be, whether measured in loss of life, injury, damage to property, or disruption of essential activities. Also, although many of the geospatial data needed for emergency response generally have already been developed by communities for other purposes, there are a variety of issues that currently impede their use for emergency management. Therefore, steps must be taken to explicitly recognize and meet the geospatial needs of the emergency management field. As its first, overarching conclusion, the committee believes that the importance of geospatial data and tools should be recognized and integrated into all phases of emergency management and, specifically, into the national plans and policies reviewed in Section 3.3 and existing emergency management procedures.

RECOMMENDATION 1: The role of geospatial data and tools should be addressed explicitly by the responsible agency in strategic planning documents at all levels, including the National Response Plan, the National Incident Management System, the Target Capabilities List, and other pertinent plans, procedures, and policies (including future Homeland Security Presidential Directives). Geospatial procedures and plans developed for all but the smallest of emergencies should be multiagency, involving all local, state, and federal agencies and NGOs that might participate in such events.


The lack of consistent policy for collaboration, together with protocols and structures for coordination and communication, has long been an impediment to effective collaboration, sharing, and reuse of geospatial data and tools among all levels of government. Since the early 1990s a number of government initiatives and orders have charged federal agencies with coordinating their programs in this specific area.

In 1990 the Federal Geographic Data Committee5 (FGDC) was formed and given the lead responsibility for this coordination by an updated Of-

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