SituMap Application helps emergency responders see scenes virtually

By: TASHARA PARKER

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BRYAN, Texas – A new mapping application hopes to simplify the planning phases during and after a natural disaster.   

SituMap allows emergency responders to quickly and easily see emergency situations such as the historic Texas floods that happened earlier this year.

Creators of SituMap we’re in Bryan today at Texas A&M’s Riverside campus testing out the new application.

"Looking for footprints, looking for the person, looking for any clues that could lead us to them,” said one first responder while searching for a missing person as part of today’s mock exercise.    

When a natural disaster strikes, one of the most difficult things to do is execute the quickest plan of action.

"When you first get on scene, you don't need to draw something too elaborate,” said Texas Task Force 1, training manager Stephen Bjune. “You need a very quick and easy simple process."    

He is one of many emergency responders who helped provide relief from the recent historic Texas floods.   

He is also one of the groups training on a new mapping application, SituMap, which also acts as a mobile command center.

"What it does is it allows you to discuss a situation, outline it in a clear and visual way to see what's happening,” he added.

With the help of drone imaging and volunteer lost victims, SituMap creators tested the new application.

“I’m going to send a picture of this to incident command back at the base,” said Sam Allred, recent Texas A&M Corpus Christi graduate, now software developer for the SituMap application.

“One of our challenges we have is getting post disaster maps,” added one of the first responders.    

SituMap developers allowed emergency responders to use the program while searching for missing persons at today's exercise.

"With SituMap, the first responders can do the mapping themselves,” said Richard Smith, developer of SituMap. “So they don't have to make that phone call and have someone do it and it shows up half an hour after they needed it. They can do the mapping right now and get the decisions when they need it."

"We don't have time to take days of people's time,” Bjune added.  “This takes minutes to train someone on it."

SituMap inventor Richard Smith says the group has quite a few people interested in the technology, including the Texas A&M Engineering Extension service.    

They are also currently only focusing on emergency management and how the application can assist first responders.


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