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A spatially accurate incident reporting system during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster

Joshua D. Kent, PhD, Roy K. Dokka, PhD


Disaster response to incidents such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill requires rapid access to comprehensive, consumable, and actionable data. Providing effective situation awareness requires data collection methodologies capable of account for the inherent spatial and temporal characteristics of the incident. However, data collection is often encumbered by complex technologies that require specialized knowledge for use. Consequently, these requirements can impede the effectiveness of disaster response. To compensate for these challenges, an easy-to-use and spatially accurate incident reporting system was designed for responders tasked with identifying the location and extent of oil infiltration within marshes and bays of south Louisiana following the disaster. This workflow was assembled around a Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled digital camera capable of receiving positioning corrections from GPS reference networks. Images depicting oiled beaches, habitats, and wildlife were automatically georeferenced and displayed using common geographic data visualization applications. Whether uploaded to data servers or printed, the imagery was shared across a wide audience, fostering collaboration among all response agencies.


situational awareness, global navigation satellite systems, geographic information systems, geovisualization, geotagging

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