Emergency Incident Tracking


While it may not occur as part of the day to day operations, an
unfortunate reality for all local governments is the need to coordinate
response and cleanup efforts as the result of an emergency event, such a
severe storm or other natural disaster. To assist with tracking
reported incidents as the result of a recent severe weather event, the
Village of Winnetka, IL used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to
store and display the incident locations during the event, as well map
their locations to assist with the extensive cleanup efforts after the
event took place.

Prior to using GIS to store and display the emergency event data,
village staff would store the incident information in a variety of
different mediums, including paper post-it notes, scarps of notebook
paper, and non-standardized excel sheets, just to name a few. As a
result, trying to coordinate response efforts was difficult, as post-its
would get lost, pieces of paper would get thrown away, etc. In
addition, without having a visual way to organize each incident
location, departments would often duplicate efforts and send multiple
response crews to deal with one incident, instead of distributing the
available resources to maximize efficiency.

To help reduce these inefficiencies, the village GIS department
provided a Structured Query Language (SQL) database with a Microsoft
Access form front end that allowed staff to enter the information for
each incident location as it was received in a standard format that
could be easily accessed and reviewed by everyone involved in the
response efforts. From the SQL database, each incident could be
extracted and mapped in the village’s internet browser-based GIS
application for all staff to see. Using this visual platform, the
nature of the incident and its current status could be shared quickly
across all departments, reducing redundancy and maximizing the
effectiveness of each response crew.