Twenty days after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, I received an e-mail from Andrew Stephens (Drew), founder and director of the GIS Institute
, a nonprofit organization that combines GIS support, planning and training around the world. Drew was heading to Houma, La. – a small town 60 miles southwest of New Orleans – to offer his support, and he invited me to join him. I agreed.
Once in Houma, Drew and I found ourselves in the GIS Lab. Here, numerous people were working 14 to 18 hours days, seven days a week to pull together data scattered on laptops, flash drives and desktop computers. Some order had to be brought to the geospatial system, and the GIS Smoke Jumper Team, of which Drew and I became a part, did just that.
The team comprised experts from all across the United States – talented National Incident Management System-certified individuals who dropped everything to join forces and lend their support. “Taming the Wild GIS
” was crucial. Though the push for maps forced many of our resources into mapping mode, the importance of the getting the data and process correct was recognized by our leadership team, and it paid big dividends for us as a result. The entire project underscored the importance of accurate data.
The cleanup work along the coast has only just begun. The need for accurate data will continue. It’s up to each of us to define our role in the data realm.
***Editor’s note: Look for a feature article on Darron’s experiences in the July issue of POB.***