April 08, 2019

Missouri state government team wins international technology award for innovative platforms

A Missouri state government team has won an international technology award for developing new tools that allow emergency managers to track flooding and other weather threats in real time and take actions to help protect impacted residents.

The State Emergency Management Agency and Missouri Office of Administration today announced the Office of Geospatial Information team will be honored with a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award. This team recognized the need to combine advanced mapping technology with a user-friendly interface to provide portals for situational awareness during critical incidents as well as resources for floodplain mitigation and management. 

“This new portal means our state team can track critical events in real time and then more quickly make vital decisions about where resources are needed and other actions to take in response,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Ron Walker said. “We’re extremely proud of our GIS professionals who work behind the scenes every day to provide us with real-time geographic information and updates.”

Walker credited the collaboration between the two agencies with helping identify the need for the information and then applying the technology in a practical way that’s simple for emergency managers to utilize.

“The GIS professionals from the Office of Administration Information Technology Services Division play an important role in responding to disasters affecting the citizens of Missouri,” Office of Administration Commissioner Sarah Steelman said. “I’m proud of the technology our staff within the Information Technology Services Division has developed to support SEMA and first responders as they work together to mitigate negative impacts on Missourians.”    

“The team members in the Office of Geospatial Information within the Office of Administration’s Information Technology Services Division have evolved as GIS technology has evolved. Years ago, a GIS professional might have spent hours developing maps specific to an event. It was challenging to keep the content current. As the software evolved to creating maps electronically through web applications, maps became available to many more people,” Tracy Schloss, Director of the Office of Geospatial Information said. “As the interfaces have been easier to develop, GIS professionals have been able to focus more on the data, getting more information out to all the communities that need it. Not only is there more real-time information available than ever before, we’ve actually been able to make it faster and easier for people to view it.”

The GIS team developed a dashboard for operations staff that leverages live data feeds related to weather, flooding, mutual aid situations and shelters throughout the state. As Missouri’s situational awareness and communications nerve center, the State Watch Center can also determine vulnerable populations under threat of a disaster or when an emergency occurs. This tool ensures SEMA maintains a high level of response readiness during critical incidents. 

In addition to the Incident Status Dashboard, the GIS team also created SEMA’s Floodplain Mapping Portal, which is a collective hub of resources for floodplain administrators across the state and is the first of its kind in the nation. This portal allows access to multiple resources quickly and efficiently to assist with management of active projects and documents. This go-to resource has benefited communities statewide with mitigation of future flooding.

The SAG Award will be presented to the GIS team at the 2019 Esri User Conference. Esri is a global leader in location intelligence and recognizes organizations from around the world to show appreciation for their use of spatial analytics technology to solve some of the world's toughest challenges.


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