GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, is a computer mapping system that integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. GIS allows analysts to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.
Within San Diego County Fire, GIS is used in a variety of ways, whether through analyses of response times of emergency vehicles to a particular incident, or for the understanding of how a wildfire might behave under specific topographic conditions. GIS is also used to develop fire map books that are available for first responders, which contain route and address information to aid in the response to an emergency. Map books also display the locations of fire hydrants and other water sources so that firefighters can quickly identify them when suppressing a wildland or structure fire.
GIS Emergency Response Unit
In 2008, managers of Fire Services within the County of San Diego, along with their regional partners, recognized the need to acquire a fully outfitted GIS Emergency Response Unit, complete with computing workstations and printing devices in order to provide GIS mapping and operational support to Incident Commanders within an Incident Command Post. The Emergency Response Unit has since been dispatched to several fires since 2008 and has been a proven success in providing critical wildfire information to firefighters working a wildland fire.
Some of the mapping products that are generated during wildfires include:
• IAP (Incident Action Plan) map
• Informational maps for the public
• Maps that incorporate predictive weather patterns and predominant winds