Geographic Information System (GIS) Working Group
In 2006, the HSAC chartered a GIS Working Group which brings together practitioners from the major GIS stakeholders within the state to monitor and evaluate GIS development from a homeland security perspective. The representatives include several local and state agencies, as well as the University of Missouri/Missouri Spatial Data Information Service (MSDIS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Rolla. The group is formulating workshops and training sessions for emergency management personnel to showcase GIS capabilities for homeland security planning and emergency operations.
Missouri has made great use of geographic data in several departments including Natural Resources, Conservation and Health & Senior Services. The data includes locations of hospitals, schools and other public buildings, drinking water supply points, energy plants and hazardous material sites, as well as a myriad of other useful information. Many local jurisdictions also rely on geo-data for county and local assessors and, to a lesser extent, 911 systems. The University of Missouri also has an extensive and robust data storehouse of geo-data for the state and surrounding regional area.
Much of this data is critical for planning and responding to emergencies. The Office of Homeland Security is relying on these agencies and departments as the custodians of geo-data as GIS is integrated into emergency management planning and operations. The Missouri Emergency Resource & Information System (MERIS) will integrate GIS data to provide emergency responders and managers with valuable information. Another focus is to produce an uncomplicated, portable method to view GIS data with commonly used software rather than GIS-specific systems usually only used by specialists and analysts. This development is crucial to integrating geo-data into emergency planning and response. Aerial imagery is also being updated across the state. These tools will be vital to effective planning and training for emergency managers and responders. Enhanced GIS data from federally funded programs will be incorporated in preparedness exercises in the coming year, and several groups are looking to collaborate for funding and program initiatives to get the geo-data for the entire state updated and validated this year. Missouri will also be participating in Project Homeland, a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) exercise focusing on natural disaster planning. The outcome from this project and upcoming state exercises will be used to better integrate GIS systems within the state.