Calgary, AB,

City recognized with international award for emergency management mapping technology

The City of Calgary’s emergency management mapping technology has received international recognition for its ability to bring together information into one source during emergency events.  
The City’s Geospatial Emergency Management (GEM) Project collected, transformed and integrated critical geographic information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies from across various departments at The City to support Emergency Management activities.  The result of the GEM Project is a Common Operating Picture (COP) tool that allows the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and its members to access over 212 layers of highly accurate geographic information, both static and near real time, for emergency planning and response.
This most recent award was granted by the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), the premier international organization for spatial information technology.  The GEM Project was awarded the 2013 Exemplary Systems in Government Award in the category of Enterprise Systems.
The URISA Awards recognize exceptional achievements in the application of integrated GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology that have improved the delivery and quality of government services.
“The GEM Project ensures accurate and reliable information is readily available to those who need it in times of emergency.  This allows important decisions to be made wisely,” said Bruce Cullen, Director of Infrastructure & Information Services at The City of Calgary.  “This is the second award we have received from the GIS professional community this year for the GEM Project and demonstrates how The City of Calgary is a leader both nationally and internationally in innovatively using geographic technology to enhance public safety.”
During the recent flood event in Calgary, the Common Operating Picture (COP) tool played a critical role in supporting CEMA in its decision making and response efforts.   Using the technology, CEMA and City departments were able to make various decisions quickly and effectively.
The COP tool pulls information from The City’s 311 and 911 systems, and integrates that information with near real time data feeds, along with static data, including infrastructure, subdivision and utility information. The COP tool allows for better coordination between many operational groups.
The need for comprehensive and centralized information during an emergency event was identified during the 2005 flooding of the Bow and Elbow Rivers.  A number of recommendations were made for emergency management for improvements to existing information management and mapping to support decisions during emergency events.  There were some key areas identified for improvement in emergency preparedness, including availability, timeliness and security of geographic information and the integration of GIS with other systems. As a result, the GEM project delivered the COP to ensure The City was prepared for the next emergency event, which turned out to be the 2013 June Flood.
This project was led by the Infrastructure & Information Services business unit, in collaboration with IT and the Calgary Emergency Management Agency partners.
The GEM Project is a Transforming Government initiative.  It uses innovatively uses geographic technology to enhance public safety in emergency events.  To learn more about Transforming Government projects, click here.