As with all major disasters over the past decade, GIS has been central to assessment and response of the Gulf Oil Spill. The role of GIS became apparent from the offset, with calls from BP to employ GIS experts for contract assignments. The word spread quickly about these open positions, but little has been heard from those doing this important work. It’s understandable that we’d hear very little given the scale and scope of the work, and it’s steady escalation since the early days of the spill going back to April 30.
Word is now coming out from the exhausted mappers, with the first great post today on The GIS Institute site (thanks @annikageo). The post outlines the evolution of this effort toward a robust enterprise approach with significant mobile components. It’s a testament to the importance of GIS that this system was such a priority, and that the typical implementation time of one-year for a system such as this was compressed into just two weeks.
It’s great to know that such detail-oriented work is taking place to map the impacts, and plan response efforts via spatial analysis. This GIS data will prove invaluable as a detailed record of this event, at an unprecedented scale and scope. The team has now created more than 150 base map layers, and has interfaced with a wide cross-section of top-level officials who have seen first-hand the utility of the GIS operations.
I look forward to reporting more in-depth about the GIS efforts as these mapping first responders rest up and reflect on their service, and share their lessons with the rest of us.