GeoWorld October 2012

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NEWSLINK GIS Portal Boosts Search- and-Rescue Work Search-and-rescue personnel have access to a new Web portal, MapSAR (, which offers GIS tools, educational materials, and a virtual com- munity for learning and sharing. Launched by Esri, MapSAR evolved from the company's collaboration with search-and-rescue (SAR) workers at national parks and volunteer organizations. "Launch of the MapSAR Web site is the result of a community of search-and-rescue personnel linked together by their use of GIS," noted Russ Johnson, global director of disaster response for Esri. "The goal is to build on that work, and supply standards, documents and training to the international SAR community. We want to help these outstanding orga- nizations and individuals with their very important job—finding lost people." Partners in the portal's development included Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, Esri, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Mountaineer Area Rescue Group. MapSAR includes a tool running Esri ArcGIS 10 software, allowing users to generate, store and print maps quickly, so search teams can deploy faster to look for missing people. The portal also includes two e-books: an instruction manual for developing a work- ing knowledge of GIS and a more advanced manual for GIS users. Blended into the portal is a forum that serves as a "peer-to-peer network" for discussing technical challenges. Texas High School Adds GIS to Law-Enforcement Curriculum The High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (HSLECJ), which rates in the top 10 percent of high schools in Houston's Independent School District, is heavily weaving geospatial technologies into its curriculum. The school, which opened in 1981 as a recruitment source for minority police officers, allows students to explore careers related to law enforcement and criminal justice. In emphasizing geospatial technologies, HSLECJ began offering a class using Digital Quest Inc.'s "GIS in Homeland Security" community course. "Kids really like this course because it is hands on," said teacher Valgene Holmes. "What they don't realize is that, while they are working through this cur- riculum, they are using a technical manual and follow- ing instructions, so they are working on their reading and interpretation skills at the same time." As the curriculum progresses, students learn basic geospatial project-management concepts in the con- text of homeland security, eventually applying their knowledge to real-world problems and generating possible solutions. Issues have included crime in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—a project in which students discovered a correlation between area crime rates and displaced Hurricane Katrina populations as well as specific locations that were affected. "The kids came up with this study because it was something that they were seeing, and they were anx- ious to know if they could use their geospatial skills to show if this influx was true, if it was a problem and more," added Holmes. Exercises also ventured into the realm of sleuthing. Search-and-rescue workers navigate Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park in Texas. A new Web portal will help such workers produce maps for their missions while allowing them to share knowhow and lessons with peers online. 6 GEO W ORLD / O CT O BE R 2O12 In one project, for example, students used geospatial technology to answer a spatial question: "Are regis- tered sex offenders residing unacceptably close to schools?" Students found 43 individual violators of regulations and ultimately provided information to law enforcement. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

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