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Geographic information system (GIS) technology is changing the way incident command teams manage oil spills and other environmental crises.

To enhance the training of incident command personnel and make exercises more realistic, the center has incorporated GIS into its environmental crisis management simulation system, says Keith Palmer, director of TEEX’s Center for Marine Training and Safety in Galveston.

Besides making computer-based scenarios more realistic, the GIS analytical tool will allow participants to map a spill as it spreads, factoring in weather, wind, tides and other data. It also can map and classify coastline areas according to their environmental sensitivity.

“Our state-of-the-art environmental crisis management simulation system has GIS embedded in the software and a wide array of scientific modeling capabilities,” Palmer said. “This not only helps us create very realistic scenarios, but provides incident management teams with training in the latest technologies. This system is a tremendous training asset to the marine industry, and particularly the petrochemical industry.”

GIS, originally developed for government, utility, land use and telecommunications applications, provides special geocoding engines that plot data on maps so users can analyze the data in spatial terms.

The center’s crisis management simulation system is linked to geographic databases, response asset and personnel data, biologic and socioeconomic sensitivity data, along with equipment and HAZMAT data. Simulations incorporate resource tracking and cost accounting, as well as damage assessment models.

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Kathy Fraser

Director of Marketing and Communications

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