Emergency Event Support

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 While most local government responsibilities are often limited to
providing operational services or policy support to its residents, for
example providing garbage pickup, there are times when those
responsibilities extend to responding to an emergency storm event. For
the City of Des Plaines, IL, such an event occurred on April 18th,
2013, which resulted in record flooding and widespread damage throughout
the community. As part of the city’s response to this event, the
Geographic Information System (GIS) department was asked to coordinate
the development of an interactive map product that could be referenced
by the public from the city’s website and convey updates on what was
happening around the community.

Using an existing map application available on the city’s public
website, the GIS staff used inputs from other city departments, such as
road closure locations and sandbag placements, to build a series of map
layers that were then added to the map application for display. Once
these layers were integrated into the existing application, a link to
access the mapped information specific to the flood event was provided
in announcements that were periodically posted on the website alerting
residents on the status of the flood response. These layers were
updated during the event itself and during the city’s cleanup efforts to
ensure all efforts by the city to restore normal operations were
transparent to the general public.

Using GIS and the existing map resources available provided city staff
with a powerful supplemental resource for distributing information to
community residents. By showing this information in a spatial
environment, residents could easily see the context of each know problem
area and better plan how to avoid those areas as they traveled within
and outside the city limits.