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Winter 2001/2002
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Independence Day Is Safer in St. Louis, Missouri, Thanks to GIS

The City of St. Louis staged its annual Fourth of July celebration in 2001 on the grounds of its most famous landmark, the historic Gateway Arch. With more than one million people in attendance, the public safety requirements posed significant challenges for City officials. Assisted by cutting-edge GIS software, the City's Emergency Management Department carefully planned and flawlessly executed the event.

Several months prior to the celebration, Gary Christmann, emergency management technician specialist for the City, sought a GIS system that would provide the power and flexibility to meet the challenges of this event, as well as other public safety requirements. Responsible for emergency operations planning, disaster resource planning, training first responders, and responding to severe weather, Christmann's department required a system that was easy to use, flexible, and capable of mapping available options and that would allow them to modify existing databases and add custom databases.

Christmann selected the VRiskMAP software program, developed by Visual Risk Technologies, an Esri Business Partner. The VRiskMAP software is powered by MapObjects technology.

 screen shot of a map of the Gateway Arch area; click to see enlargement
The visual presentation of Gateway Arch Asset Deployment allows users to conduct planning, prepare assessments, and react in real time to changing requirements.

According to Senior Software Engineer Mason Landstreet of Visual Risk Technologies, "MapObjects is the foundation of our product; it is used to display the majority of the information that our product brings to the user. We are currently working to incorporate the new features of MapObjects 2.1, which was recently released by Esri, in order to give our customers even greater mapping flexibility."

According to Christmann, in planning for the Fourth of July celebration, emergency management personnel used the program to organize City assets at event locations; designate check-in points, cooling stations, and first aid stations; position ambulances and security command posts; and map a detailed traffic control plan.

The software arrived in Christmann's office bundled with more than 30 data layers of information on the county and surrounding municipalities. Christmann also added the City's own street department data to the system. Eventually, he plans to incorporate other public works data to include pipelines; water, sewer, and gas lines; and fiber-optic cables. This information becomes critical during disasters such as those experienced September 11 at New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Christmann wants his city to be ready.

"The entire command staff was organized with VRiskMAP," Christmann said. "What's so great about the system is its user-friendliness and ability to hold copious amounts of data." Attracted to the program because of its ease of use and ability to quickly recall files, Christmann added, "I can click on phone numbers, Businesses, building sizes, and more to adjust my map."

For more information, contact Cindy Ellis, Visual Risk Technologies (e-mail: cellis@vrisk.com, tel.: 615-321-4848). Or visit the company's Web site at www.vrisk.com.

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