GIS to the Rescue


An article in Fortune discusses IT and Homeland Security:

It's a very bad day in Galveston, Texas, home to one of the world's densest concentrations of petrochemical plants. An airborne plume of hydrofluoric acid--stuff so nasty it can dissolve glass--is spreading from a railroad tank car blown up in a terrorist attack. Public-safety officials are in a scramble to understand the scope of the disaster and how to protect the population. Fortunately they've got a geographic information system, or GIS, to get a handle on the crisis and respond to it--fast.

If you're not familiar with GIS software, its used to keep track of almost anything you can put GPS coordinates on.  Needless to say, GIS plays a very important role in state and other government IT systems.   In state government, every data record we have either has a social security number or GPS coordinates.   (Some have both). 

Utah's Automatic Geographic Reference Center is the group that coordinates GIS systems for the state of Utah.  They also created our state portal maps service.  in the same way that the scenario in Fortune has GIS playing an important role in a poisonous gas leak, our AGRC folks have done numerous studies on inundation plains for dam breaks and other natural and man made disasters.  GIS is a great tool to have in homeland security.  Utah's lucky to have a dedicated team of people at the state level and county governments who also understand the importance and cooperate closely with us to create a GIS system that is complete and accurate.