Geospatial technology could help prevent weather-related disasters such as the 50-mile traffic jam along the Interstate in eastern Virginia that left some motorists stranded in a snowstorm for more than 24 hours.
The Monday storm dumped more than a foot of snow on the I-95 corridor area. It not only stranded highway travelers overnight and wreaked havoc on nearby roads, but also stopped an Amtrak passenger train in its tracks for more than 30 hours.
But the disaster could provide the data for geospatial technology to predict a similar event in future. That would give first responders, utility workers and emergency crews the time and information they need to respond and mitigate the damage and suffering events such as the I-95 jam inflict.
“You can’t stop the weather, but you can improve where your resources are,” said Bill Gough, SAP senior director of Strategic Alliances.
The technology combines huge amounts of data with geographical mapping to create maps that go beyond roads and bridges. Any data of choice, such as hospitals, electrical transformers or demographics can be overlaid, providing a rich visual map that is more easily understood. When combined with predictive analytics, which uses prior events to anticipate future occurrences, it can help emergency responders to prepare and act to mitigate the impact.
“Suddenly, you have a clear, holistic picture of the disaster landscape and you can show hospital workers, firefighters and emergency workers how to prepare for disaster 12 hours in advance,” Gough said. “You can send out alerts, close off roads and move supplies closer to the point of impact.”
Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center has been using the geospatial technology for its online map that tracks the virus worldwide.
“You put spatial context into the way you look at data that otherwise would be sitting in a spreadsheet,” Gough said.
Joellen Perry, Head of Global Public Relations, SAP
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