In natural disasters, often the recovery process is most painful and most difficult, requiring significant local, state and federal resources.* Yet, the typical, legacy Emergency Management Systems often only focus on the initial emergency event, not the recovery process, leaving disparate, slow and unconnected systems to “pick up the pieces.”
To address this problem in the wake of the recent fires in Southern California, Microsoft partner Infusion Development worked with the County of San Diego to identify its requirements for a Disaster Assessment and Collaboration Portal (DACP). The portal is a customized deployment of their Joint Emergency Planning & Response System (JPRS) that leverages the Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping platform and Microsoft Sharepoint and allows users to visualize and collaborate around a crisis event (readers of this blog should already be familiar with JEPRS).
The DACP allows multiple users--property owners, County of San Diego personnel, FEMA personnel--to access publicly available information on property damage. Properties that have been assessed are represented by green, house-shaped icons on the Virtual Earth map giving users an immediate visual and understanding of up-to-date assessment efforts (the data is dynamically updated through Sharepoint). Clicking on a property icon and then clicking on the resulting bubble that appears on the icon, provides the user with a snapshot of the completed assessment form (FEMA standard). You can then click on the "View Assessment Form" button in this window to see a scanned TIFF version of the completed form. Alternately, users can use the search box to search for properties by address, damage assessment form number, parcel number, or lat/long coordinates.
Additional overlays on the map include icons for assistance centers and parcel boundaries.
For Country staff, there is a sign in that allows those users access to an online chat box and records monitoring, both JEPRS features.
Meanwhile, the portal was designed with the average user in mind and so is intuitive and easy to use, and includes a web part that the County can use to communicate announcements directly to citizens.
The site is obviously public-facing and you can check it out here.