ReNewCanada_MarApr2020_Cloud Storage

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Despite these numbers, it could have been worse. No lives were lost, and while the B.C. Government commissioned an independent strategic review identifying recommendations for future emergencies, it applauded the safe and successful wildfire response, saying it speaks to the professionalism of all agencies involved, along with the support and cooperation of the public. Coordinating that response was a complicated undertaking, as was ensuring the public was well-informed. Residents had questions that needed to be answered: Where are the fires burning? Where are they forecasted to go? When do we need to evacuate? Which routes are still open? As the public was crying out for information, a top priority became reducing public frustrations and clarifying public safety messaging. This was a colossal effort in collaboration, i m m e d i a t e a c c e s s a n d re a l - t i m e communication. GeoBC's Portfolio Manager of Business Innovation and Emergency Response, Gurdeep Singh knew, with so many people I t was the flood in 2017 that kickstarted GeoBC into moving their maps onto the cloud-based mapping platform, ArcGIS Online, but it was the wildfires that followed that proved the importance of the cloud infrastructure in a widespread emergency. In the spring of 2017, Okanagan and Kalamalka Lakes, along with local rivers and streams, reached historic levels. The resulting floods caused millions of dollars in damage and lengthy evacuations of residents. Catastrophic wildfires followed shortly thereafter. In what proved to be B.C.'s worst wildfire season ever, and for the first time in 14 years, the province declared a state of emergency on July 7. The state of emergency was extended four times, lasting 10 weeks, making it the longest state of emergency in the province's history. The total cost of wildfire suppression alone reached $615 million and 1.2-million hectares of forest burned. The disruption was huge. With 66 evacuation orders affecting 2,211 properties, 65,000 British Columbians were displaced from their homes. involved, he had to get the necessary location information into ArcGIS Online. He also understood that GeoBC—whose mandate is to create and manage geospatial information and products for the province—would benefit from cloud infrastructure. In fact, they already had. "In the past, we created a lot of PDF maps that became outdated very quickly and could not keep up with the pace of events to provide timely and effective situational awareness." Singh also notes that when using the cloud, "integration of data from multiple sources is easy, fast, and reliable." Months earlier, Singh's team had already started using ArcGIS Online to host data and mapping products, and it found how important that decision was when B.C. experienced severe flooding. The cloud structure also proved invaluable when the wildfires hit. As Singh says, "it's elastic and resides in the cloud, so that means a huge amount of horsepower is available to meet the growth in demand from users." He had a lot of people wanting to collaborate The value of the cloud in infrastructure emergency management. By David Hamilton Credit: B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure The Antlers Beach Wildfire, July 18, 2018, near Peachland, B.C. Innovation CLOUD STORAGE 26 ReNew Canada March/April 2020

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