GIS for emergency response: Lessons from the Cerro Grande wildfire

C. Randall Mynard, Gordon N. Keating, PhD, Paul M. Rich, PhD


The May 2000 Cerro Grande wildfire swept through Los Alamos, New Mexico, forcing evacuation of Los Alamos National Laboratory and the communities of Los Alamos and White Rock. Use of geographic information system (GIS) technology for emergency response and post-fire mitigation provided valuable lessons about institutional operations, working relationships, and emergency preparedness. These lessons include the importance of: 1) GIS as an integrating framework for hazard assessment; 2) having a strong GIS capability in place; 3) coordinated emergency plans among GIS facilities; 4) reliable methods for locating and informing evacuated employees; 5) GIS data that are complete, backed up, and available during an emergency; 6) adaptation of GIS to emergency circumstances; 7) coordination within the GIS community; 8) integration of GIS into institutional operations; and 9) centralized data and metadata.



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