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Tackling the new normal in Emergency Management with Location Intelligence

"The new normal" is the latest catchphrase in emergency management. Responding to increasingly frequent and complex threats and hazards is the new normal and requires emergency management professionals to become more agile and informed at all points during their emergency management response efforts. Creating safer, less vulnerable communities in this new normal requires an innovative approach to understanding threats and hazards that are more complex, costly and devastating than ever before. 

Agencies need real-time, integrated solutions for emergency management to support mission-critical decisions. These solutions must help emergency management practitioners maintain situational and operational awareness; quickly analyze an incident impact; assess damage; deploy needed resources; and, educate, inform and warn the public. When incidents occur, emergency professionals need to be prepared with a location-based solution to empower the kind of critical decision-making that can help save lives.

I live in British Columbia (BC) where we have had extremely severe, back-to-back provincial wildfire events in successive years, resulting in record length declarations of provincial state of emergency. These events emphasized the need for enhanced situational awareness, along with response and management capabilities that would allow coordination and collaboration between multiple levels of government, industry, non-governmental organizations and First Nations governments. To address these needs, the Province of BC adopted the ArcGIS Platform upon which they built the BC Emergency Management Common Operating Picture (COP) Portal.


During the 2017 and 2018 wildfire events, several communities across the Province were provided access to the COP; they were able to gain enhanced situational awareness by leveraging their own data and tools from within the application. This innovative and collaborative approach also helped establish standards, guidelines and best practices for sharing data, information and tools to support situational awareness during a disaster.            

Maintaining situational awareness is critical to response efforts for any emergency or disaster. Processes that involve the manual collection and sharing of data are not only siloed and slow but are also immediately out-of-date—keeping you and your team in a reactive, disconnected state. With an integrated, real-time, location-based solution at your fingertips, maintaining situational awareness makes it easy for you to monitor changing conditions as they happen, brief your team immediately, and make better-informed decisions that can save lives and property.

Location intelligence provides powerful mapping and analytics capabilities that allow you to monitor incidents as they unfold. Armed with this information, disasters and large-scale emergencies can be managed with foresight and agility.

Esri Canada’s Emergency Management Operations solution is available as a complete bundle that includes all the software, apps, content, and services you need to get started.

Agencies around the world rely on Esri every day to plan for and mitigate complex threats and hazards, and coordinate response and recovery efforts when disasters and emergencies occur. With location intelligence and emergency management solutions from Esri, you'll develop a deeper understanding of risk in the new normal and maintain real-time data insights to help you anticipate your next move.

To find out more about the Province of British Columbia’s Emergency Management Common Operating Picture (COP) Portal, I encourage you to attend Gurdeep Singh (GeoBC) and Mike Knauf’s (EMBC) EPBC conference session on Oct 29, 2019, from 1:30-2:30 pm. Also, please visit us at Booth #2 or send me your available times so that we can schedule a meeting or demo.

About the Author

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

Profile Photo of David Hamilton