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Mapping & Analysis Center - Geographic Information Systems

FEMA Mapping and Analysis Center

GIS Developments at FEMA

GIS has been around FEMA for quite a while, but it was during and after Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, that its full potential began to emerge. Inspired by the avid use of this technology by the South Florida Water Management District, FEMA deployed its first GIS capability at the Miami DFO and worked closely with the State of Florida in using the technology to support that disaster.

In the aftermath of the Andrew "experience", GIS began to take a more cohesive shape within FEMA. FEMA began to use GIS based hurricane wind and earthquake damage estimation models. Using equipment returned from the Florida DFO, a small contactor staff of GIS technicians began to use GIS to support the Emergency Support Team (EST) with disaster maps.

In 1993, FEMA first used real-time flood extent information on GIS maps during the mid-west floods. In 1994, FEMA employed GIS during the California earthquakes.

It was soon after this that FEMA management recognized the need to further organize and structure the GIS support capabilities of the Agency. To this end, in 1994, FEMA formed the GIS Applications Branch in the Information Technology Services Directorate (ITSD).

Under the management of the ITSD GIS Applications Branch, the Mapping and Analysis Center (MAC) was designed and developed as a state-of-the-art GIS laboratory to support the EST and the Response and Recovery Directorate. In addition, MAC staff also developed complete sets of deployable GIS suites and put in place on-call GIS contract support to provide on-site GIS field support to DFOs. Over the last 8 years the MAC has grown in stature, effectiveness, and capabilities; providing combined GIS support at HQ and in the field to more than 150 disasters.

The MAC is now managed by an ITSD Enterprise GIS Team (E-GIS Team) located in the Information Technology Services Directorate, Systems Engineering and Development Division, GIS and Data Solutions Branch, and includes six full-time and two part-time contract support staff. In addition to managing a state-of-the-art GIS laboratory, the GIS staff engaged in GIS production and analysis for program offices throughout the Agency, including: the EST, the Readiness, Response and Recovery Directorate, the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, the Administration and Resource Planning Directorate, disaster field offices, the Office of National Preparedness and Homeland Security.

Under the direction of an Agency-wide GIS Working Group, the E-GIS Team and MAC staff are beginning the implementation plan phase of its Enterprise GIS effort; the Enterprise GIS is intended to integrate and enhance GIS within FEMA.

MAC staff are active participants in both the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the Open GIS Consortium, the seminal organizations for national and international GIS policy and standards.

The continuing goal is for FEMA to set the standard for GIS excellence in emergency management.

Last Updated: September 22, 2004 11:29 AM