EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — November 19, 2008

The USGS Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT)
in Honor of GIS Day 2008

Craig D. Skalet
Senior Geospatial Advisor
Emergency Operations Office
U.S. Geological Survey

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The introduction, presentation, and closing parts of the transcript are prepared remarks and not necessarily verbatim. The Q&A portion is prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/GIRT/USGSEmergencyOperations.pdf
for ease of printing.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org! As we have for several years, we are observing GIS Day today with a program that focuses on the use of GIS technology to support emergency management – the USGS Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT).

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest speaker. Craig Skalet joined the USGS in 1977 and is currently working as a Senior Geospatial Advisor in the USGS Emergency Operations Office. He previously served as the Deputy Regional Geographer for the Central Region and Chief of the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center.

Mr. Skalet's career included five years in National Mapping Division's Office of Research at USGS Headquarters in Reston, Virginia, and six years with the Western Mapping Center in Menlo Park, California. Craig received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography in 1976 and a Master of Science degree in Cartography in 1983 both from the University of Wisconsin.

Welcome Craig, and thank you for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


[Slide 1]
USGS Geospatial Information Coordination

Craig Skalet: I want to begin by thanking you for the opportunity to talk about how the U.S. Geological Survey tries to connect our scientific knowledge of natural hazards with the emergency response efforts that are carried out by other government agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

Included in my talk will be some discussion for how USGS is organized, the USGS mission related to natural hazards, and the resources that we dedicate to support this mission. It would be my hope that by the end of the hour, you will have a good understanding for how USGS has organized to support emergency response efforts through access to various types of geospatial and scientific information, thereby enabling more effective planning of resources needed to deal with the crisis at hand.

[Slide 2]
Organizational Context

I would like to begin by telling you just a little about how USGS is organized and provide you with the current list of senior leaders at USGS.

[Slide 3]
The USGS Organization

At USGS, we would characterize ourselves as an unbiased, multi-disciplinary science organization that focuses on biology, geography, geology, geospatial information, and water. We are dedicated to the timely, relevant, and impartial study of the landscape, our natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten us.

USGS is comprised of approximately 9,000 employees and although our primary locations are Reston, Virginia, Denver, Colorado and Menlo Park, California, we have science centers and field offices in every one of the 50 states, and are also involved with studies that take us to every part of the globe.

The current Director of USGS is Dr. Mark Myers. Dr. Myers has been with USGS for a little over two years and he has been very clear about describing the importance of integrated geospatial information as a critical foundation for science.

Bob Doyle serves as the Deputy Director and you can see from the chart the names of all of the other senior leaders at USGS. USGS is organized into the following 5 primary disciplines:

• Biology
• Geography
• Geology
• Water
• Geospatial Information

[Slide 4]
Hazard Response Executive Committee (HREC)

The USGS Hazard Response Executive Committee provides executive direction, oversight, and support to USGS managers in responding to major hazard events.

In responding to natural disasters, the USGS has a responsibility to ensure effective coordination across the bureau in order to eliminate redundancies, share resources, provide consistent and timely communications, and ensure that response teams receive timely support from bureau leadership. In this context, a hazard may be natural or human-caused in origin and threatens the people and resources of the Nation.

The goals of the HREC are to:

• Provide executive direction and oversight of USGS mission activities at the national level to effectively manage hazard response resources, communications, and information.

• Provide mechanism for coordination of activities with the National Response Plan (NRP) and Emergency Support Functions (ESF), when activated by the White House.

• Provide coordination of timely and effective communications with Bureau, Departmental, and other agencies that are involved in hazard response.

• Provide timely access to Bureau leaders and a single decision authority, when needed, in the event of a disaster.

In short, the HREC is the umbrella organization at USGS that provides the oversight and direction for how USGS will deploy resources in support of the larger federal response for these kinds of events.

[Slide 5]
Hazard Coordinators

The HREC is also connected to the following set of hazard coordinators that provide more specific scientific coordination depending upon the particular hazard event:

  • Earthquake Hazards Program Coordinator
  • Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator
  • Landslide Hazards Program Coordinator
  • Invasive Species Program Coordinator
  • Coastal & Marine Geology Program Coordinator (hurricane and tsunami)
  • Flooding/Severe Inland weather events Lead
  • Wildland Fire Science Lead
  • Biological Threat Lead
  • Operational Coastal Storm Team Lead
  • Science Coastal Storm Team Lead
  • Other Event Coordinator, as needed

[Slide 6]
Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT)

To assist in responding to natural and potential man-made disasters, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has established the Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT). The primary purpose of the GIRT is to ensure rapid coordination and availability of geospatial information for effective response by emergency responders, and land and resource managers, and for scientific analysis. The GIRT is responsible for establishing monitoring procedures for geospatial data acquisition, processing, and archiving; discovery, access, and delivery of data; anticipating geospatial needs; and providing relevant geospatial products and services.

I would like to highlight a few of the GIRT members. Kari Craun serves on the GIRT and represents her center. Kari is the Director of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) located in Rolla, Missouri and Denver, Colorado.

Some of you may remember a time when USGS had mapping centers engaged in the production of the USGS 1:24,000-scale topographic map series. Over the last 15 years there has been considerable change to that program and the mapping centers that supported it. The National Mapping Program today is comprised of a more digital approach to the production of current and accurate geospatial information and The National Map is the program title for this effort. Kari oversees the operational aspect to The National Map through the NGTOC.

Wayne Miller represents the Emergency Operations Program at the USGS EROS Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. EROS has many capabilities, but is most known for the Landsat Program, along with many other data management and remote sensing specialties. At EROS, the USGS is host to a wide range of remotely sensed data sets, and serves USGS and the Nation as one of the primary resources for the management and distribution of this information.

Vicki Lukas serves USGS as the senior leader over the USGS geospatial liaisons. The USGS geospatial liaisons coordinate geospatial information sharing with State, local, and tribal governments, and ensure geospatial liaison back-up support procedures are in place. USGS has geospatial liaisons located in almost every state and they are responsible for developing partnerships with both state and federal partners.

[Slide 7]
EM 50 Urban Assault Vehicle

When I first took on the role of Emergency Response Coordinator for the GIRT and I first heard about the Science Response Vehicle, what came to my mind was the EM 50 Urban Assault Vehicle from the movie "Stripes." As it turns out, the USGS Science Response Vehicle is pretty close in appearance to the EM-50; we just don’t have the same armament.

[Slide 8]
Science Response Vehicle (SRV)

The USGS National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) in Lafayette, Louisiana maintains the Science Response Vehicle (SRV), capable of rapid deployment in response to natural disasters throughout the United States. It is equipped with computers, software, and plotters to provide spatial analyses during and after natural disasters. Staff from NWRC are available for deployment to meet the needs of the Nation in response to natural disasters. Most recently the SRV was used during the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in SE Louisiana to support search and rescue operations.

[Slide 9]
Mission Natural Hazards

The scientists at USGS are attempting to describe and understand the earth in order to better manage our Nation’s water, biological, energy and mineral resources. In addition, and in order to enhance and protect our quality of life, the better understanding of natural hazards and their potential for adverse impact on society is critical.

[Slide 10]
USGS Natural Hazards Mission

Hazards are natural events that expose people to the risk of death or injury and property damage and destruction. The Nation’s vulnerability to hazards increased dramatically during the last century: populations have grown; people have moved into hazardous regions such as the coasts and mountains; and the U.S. economy has become dependent on complex infrastructure such as telecommunication networks, highways, and pipelines, and disruptions of this infrastructure affect many people. To reduce an increasing vulnerability to natural hazards, the USGS studies earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, geomagnetic field changes, floods, droughts, coastal erosion, tsunamis, wildland fires, and wildlife diseases.

The information provided by the USGS is essential to support saving lives and reducing the skyrocketing costs of natural disasters. The USGS focus for the beginning of the 21st Century is on delivering information in real time so that lives can be saved and further damage avoided by the quick actions of emergency managers, businesses, and citizens.

Future efforts will concentrate on more extensive monitoring, advanced technology, and better and faster synthesis of information to detect hazardous events and convey the information to decision-makers and the public. USGS will also conduct risk assessments of natural hazards and intensive studies after an event to provide a solid scientific basis for land use planners and the public so that they can minimize losses from future hazardous events.

[Slide 11]
Landslides, Earthquakes, Volcanic Activity, Flooding, Wildfires and Biological Diseases

Every day there are hundreds of natural disasters world-wide. Some are dramatic, whereas others are barely noticeable. A natural disaster is commonly defined as a natural event with catastrophic consequences for living things in the vicinity. Those events include earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunami, volcanoes, and wildfires. Man-made disasters are events that are caused by man, either intentionally or by accident, and that directly or indirectly threaten public health and well-being. These occurrences span the spectrum from terrorist attacks to accidental oil spills. In addition, USGS Biology discipline is engaged in the understanding of particular diseases and disease propagation that threatens the health and welfare of both people and animals in this country and around the world.

[Slide 12]

• Landslides occur in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

• Landslides cause $1-2 billion in damages and more than 25 fatalities on average each year.

• Landslides commonly occur in connection with other major natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, wildfires, and floods.

[Slide 13]
Earthquake Monitoring

• Estimated 500,000 measurable earthquakes occur in the world every year and 30,000 are of a magnitude 2.5 or greater, 180 or so are non-earthquake events (like mine explosions, nuclear tests, etc…)

• Alaska is the most earthquake prone area in the United States. Almost every year, Alaska experiences a magnitude 7 earthquake and every 14 years (on average) an 8 magnitude earthquake.

• Florida and North Dakota have experienced the lowest number of earthquakes in the United States

• The majority of earthquakes occur at tectonic plate boundaries

• The global seismic network contains more than 128 seismographic stations in 80 countries

[Slide 14]

• It is currently estimated that there are around 500 active volcanoes world-wide and over 1500 volcanoes have erupted in the last 10,000 years.

• The biggest eruption ever occurred at the area of Yellowstone National Park about 2.2 million years ago. This explosive eruption produced 2,500 cubic kilometers of ash or 2,500 times more ash than Mount St. Helens.

• Mount Rainier, the highest and third most voluminous volcano in the Cascade Range, is potentially the most dangerous volcano in the range because of the large population living around its lowland drainages.

• USGS operated Volcanic Observatories in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington (Vancouver), California (Long Valley), Wyoming (Yellowstone) and the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

[Slide 15]

In the late summer of 2005, the remarkable flooding brought by Hurricane Katrina, which caused more than $200 billion in losses, constituted the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history. However, even in typical years, flooding causes billions of dollars in damage and threatens lives and property in every State.

USGS operates a website (NWISWeb) that provides an integrated database and single portal for water data to include both historical and real time data for surface water and ground water in a single integrated system. NWIS fulfills 25 million requests per month with a strong emphasis on reliability of data delivery.

[Slide 16]

Wildfires are a growing natural hazard in most regions of the United States, posing a threat to life and property, particularly where native ecosystems meet developed areas. The secondary effects of wildfires, including erosion, landslides, introduction of invasive species, and changes in water quality, are often more disastrous than the fire itself.

[Slide 17]
Biological Diseases

A few of the biological diseases currently being studies at USGS include –

Avian influenza is usually a viral infection of wild birds that is caused by a group of viruses known as type A influenzas. Avian influenza viruses have been found in many bird species, but are most often found in migratory waterfowl, especially the mallard duck.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible disease that has been identified in the free-ranging and captive mule deer, white tailed deer and elk population. The disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a newly emergent virus is found in both tropical and temperate regions. It mainly infects birds, but is also the cause of a number of conditions in humans, horses, and some other mammals. It is transmitted by bites of infected mosquitoes.

Whirling disease affects fish in the trout and salmon family. By damaging cartilage, whirling disease can kill young fish directly, or cause infected fish to swim in an uncontrolled whirling motion. This can make it impossible for them to escape predators or to effectively seek food. The parasite that causes the disease was introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1950s and the parasite has been found in wild fish and fish hatcheries in 25 states.

[Slide 18]
Emergency Operations


  • Geospatial information coordination
  • Liaison support – DHS, NGA, CIA, DOI, etc
  • National Security Special Events
  • Homeland Security/Defense requirements gathering and planning
  • Support for deployed geospatial experts
  • Custom and sensitive products

[Slide 19]
Partnerships; Geospatial Liaison Role

The role of our geospatial liaisons includes:

  • Partner engagement
  • Targeted TNM data acquisition plan for each State
  • Data discovery and documentation
  • Implementation of best practices
  • Data and information alignment
  • Feedback from partners and users about products and services

[Slide 20]

Emergency Support Function (ESF) Notification and Activation

The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), a component of the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), develops and issues operation orders to activate individual ESFs based on the scope and magnitude of the threat or incident.

ESF primary agencies are notified of the operations orders and time to report to the NRCC by the Department of Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness and Response/Federal Emergency Management Agency. At the regional level, ESFs are notified by the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) per established protocols. USGS is not identified in a primary position for any of the Emergency Support Function categories; however, it does provide critical information to these primary agencies through some of the following interfaces:

Liaisons to DHS and FEMA

Mike Lee is the USGS liaison to the Department of Homeland Security, and both Brenda Jones and Ron Risty have supported both the NRCC and Regional Joint Field Offices in the past. The primary role played by USGS during these events involves facilitating access to, and acquisition of, remotely sensed imagery and data.

EROS: Wayne Miller, Brenda Jones and Ron Risty represent operational conduits to the data and scientific resources at the EROS Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

IRSCC: Mike Lee is an active member of the Interagency Remote Sensing Coordination Cell whose purpose is to coordinate the acquisition and delivery of remotely sensed imagery and data during an event.

USGS GIRT: Wendy Budd, John Crowe and Craig Skalet support the coordinated acquisition of USGS science and data during an event.

USGS State Liaisons: The USGS State Liaisons, including those linked to NORTHCOM, provide connections between USGS and our partner agencies including those at the state, regional and local levels.

[Slide 21]
Organizational Links

National Response Framework - http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf/mainindex.htm

NOAA National Weather Service - http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

DHS Emergency Management - http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/emergency

DOI Emergency Management - http://www.doi.gov/emergency/index.html

USGS Emergency Management - http://www.usgs.gov/emergency/

USGS GIRT Website - http://ngtoc.usgs.gov/girt/

FEMA Incident Response - http://www.fema.gov/emergency/reports/index.shtm

International Charter - http://www.disasterscharter.org/

USGS NSDI State Liaisons - http://nmcatalog.usgs.gov/crreps/faces/crreps.jspx

[Slide 22]
Data Links

USGS Emergency Operations Portal - http://hdds.usgs.gov/EO/

USGS The National Map Seamless Server - http://seamless.usgs.gov/

USGS RMGSC Hazards Site - http://nhss.cr.usgs.gov/nhss/viewer.htm

USGS Rapid Data Delivery System (RDDS) - http://firedata.cr.usgs.gov/

GEOMAC - http://geomac.usgs.gov/

[Slide 23]
Thank You

Craig Skalet
(303) 202-4306
[email protected]

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Craig. Now, to proceed to your questions or comments.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Ric Skinner: Regarding today's EMFORUM question, enabling CERT groups with GIRT capability is essentially what I've proposed to the FEMA DM Team. Successful response begins with a map, and CERTs can be the "spatial CNN" on the ground providing IC with early and rapid situation awareness. Do you think CERT-GIRT could be reasonably implemented using basic GIS technology, such as found in FEMA's DMIS/OPEN platform [MapQuest application] and other open source and low cost GIS?

Craig Skalet: I think that’s certainly very viable. We seem to face all the time the local first responders having a need for information, and many times they need it in a very thin-type flow because they’re dealing with a hand-held instrument, or many times they need a map. I think having locally based geospatial coordination groups is a smart thing to do. Actually we believe that the best, most accurate information, exists at the local level. So I think that’s a very good idea.

Victoria Smith:. It looks like the GIRT works from a state EOC level. How would an incident (such as Search & Rescue) initiate contact with the GIRT through the proper protocols?

Craig Skalet: The GIRT is really established to coordinate within USGS. We utilize our state liaisons, our liaisons to other federal agencies, to connect out to our partners. Really, in this case, the USGS GIRT is about trying to make sure that all parts of the USGS are working together in a coordinated way. With 9,000 employees and offices in every state in the country, you can imagine coordinating that and making sure that everybody is working in synch is no small task.

Having said that, I think that the state liaisons are the best connection in the state to USGS geospatial information. I have provided a link (I don’t have it in front of me) to all the Geospatial Liaison contacts. I think it’s toward the bottom of the organizational link page. So that will be a way for you to make a strong connection to USGS and to the GIRT. [See http://nmcatalog.usgs.gov/crreps/faces/crreps.jspx.]

Richard Vandame: Do you interface with organizations such as Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)?

Craig Skalet: I don’t personally do that, but there is someone in our organization who does that. To my recollection, Robin Fegeas is our link to Open Geospatial Consortium.

Victoria Smith: I’m very familiar with the wildlands side of the incidents, and the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center (great support), and they have a Web interface to order data. Is there any potential for taking this concept all risk?

Craig Skalet: Yes, I think that is a good idea. We’re moving more and more toward providing better access to our data. I did provide a link to the Rapid Data Delivery System that she’s referring to [http://firedata.cr.usgs.gov/]. We have the GEOMAC [http://geomac.usgs.gov/] based out of Denver and the Rapid Data Delivery System. It’s all kind of focused on wildland fire.

But we also have the Hazard Data Distribution System at EROS that provides access to imagery and data from the national map [http://hdds.usgs.gov/EO/].

We have another Web site called the Naatural Hazard Support System [http://nhss.cr.usgs.gov/]. We do try to provide linkages to the other hazard events. We have feeds going into the NHSS site from the landslides, information from volcanic observatories, from the National Earthquake Information Center. I’ve provided the URLs for those sources in the presentation. Most of those pages have URLs that link into USGS Science and Information.

J. Birch: Do you have any recent examples of local CERT or other response use of GIRT resources?

Craig Skalet: We have a relationship with Delta State University. Talbot Brooks is the director of that GIS laboratory at Delta State. He has been a strong proponent of the US National Grid and development of maps based on the US National Grid for search and rescue.

In the case of Southeast Louisiana, Talbot responded and produced national grid atlas maps for the search and rescue operations that were conducted in Southeast Louisiana this past summer. Those maps had been produced for the 15 most populous urban areas in the country and are available via the HDDS website. That’s just one example of trying to support search and rescue at the national level.

Amy Sebring: Are there any other events that the GIRT has had a major role in?

Craig Skalet: The GIRT stands up when there’s a major, well, most of the time it has been for hurricanes. I’ve been in this position for a year and I don’t recall (for instance, there are California fires going on and the GIRT isn’t standing up), so most of our experience to date has been in coordination with the USGS storm team and major hurricanes like Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Gustav.

Amy Sebring: You mentioned the political conventions. Can you talk a little bit about what USGS does to support those?

Craig Skalet: Most of that work centers around the acquisition of current imagery and geospatial information preceding the event. I’m more familiar with the Democratic National Convention because my office, my home base, is Denver, Colorado.

I sit next to the state liaison for Colorado, Mark Eaton. Mark pulled together a consortium of partners, colleagues, and cities in the Denver metropolitan area including Colorado Springs, and collected funding and support from the locals. Together with the NGA, they put in a significant amount of funding to fly to the Denver area for new imagery and put that information into a database to support the planning for the Democratic National Convention. That involves making sure there are corridors, where the traffic is going to flow, where people are going to live, all those kinds of things. A lot of the prep work that goes on that is done by a number of federal agencies including the Secret Service, NGA, and the USGS participates in the early planning stages for those kinds of events.

Roger Arango: The Central US Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) has formed a work group to use remote sensing applications for near real time damage assessment following an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. How would we interact with GIRT for this multi-FEMA region, multi-state event?

Craig Skalet: We’d be interested in knowing how that organization is structured and who are the many points of contact, but there are other federal organizations that attempt to coordinate remotely sensed information. I mentioned one of them called the Interagency Remote Sensing Coordination Cell based out of the Department of Homeland Security. Michael Lee is the USGS person connected to that group. That’s a group that tries to coordinate remotely sensed collections specifically during events. When a hurricane occurs or a major earthquake occurs, the IRSCC stands up and tries to coordinate remotely-sensed acquisition and distribution. I would suggest that that would be a very good connection to make as well.

Marcus Monroe: I am currently participating in State of MO planning for catastrophic events mass care. The State of Missouri's main catastrophic event threat is the New Madrid fault system. Please provide examples of how GIRT, and remotely sensed information in general, could be of use for a mass care response to such an event.

Craig Skalet: We have an arrangement or relationship with FEMA to acquire new imagery in the case of a major event like that. FEMA is the organization that would put in place the funding mechanisms to fly photography. So USGS serves as the executive agent to FEMA for the contracting of that kind of acquisition.

In addition to that, we have access to other resources for the acquisition of remotely sensed information. On the organizational page, I have something called the "International Charter" [http://www.disasterscharter.org/]. The International Charter is a consortium of countries worldwide that provide access to satellite information for no charge when there is a disaster and human life is in jeopardy.

USGS is a member of the International Charter consortium, along with countries like China, France, India, Israel. The US-based satellite companies are also members, or can provide information through the Charter through the USGS representation. That provides access to satellite information from things like SPOT, Landsat, the various satellites that are sponsored by those countries.

The USGS is trying to facilitate the acquisition into the Charter, through our state liaisons, the connection of that to state emergency operation centers, and it also requires someone to actually process that data and produce products. In each state we’re trying to make connections to universities and set up partnerships between the state EOCs, USGS, FEMA, and universities for the processing of that data.

There are examples this last year where tornadoes in the spring ripped through Arkansas and Kentucky, and the International Charter was invoked to collect radar information to support that event. During the Midwest floods that occurred in May the International Charter was invoked to collect current imagery showing the floods over places like Wisconsin and Iowa. Those are examples.


Victoria Smith: Can you type out the name of the USGS search and rescue contact? There is a national SAR group forming to do geospatial standards (similar to the wildland fire standard operating procedures and standards) and we'd like a SAR contact for the USGS.

Craig Skalet: The USGS doesn’t get directly involved in search and rescue. I would say that the USGS attempts to support search and rescue by the provision of products like the National Grid atlas maps that are produced by Talbot Brooks at Delta State University. The science response vehicle, when it was deployed to Houston for Hurricane Ike and then redeployed to Southeast Louisiana, they were making maps for the search teams that went out to do search and rescue.

A point of contact would be the GIRT points of contact that have already been provided in the presentation. John Crowe is one of the co-chairs along with Wendy Budd. I’m the coordinator, but we don’t actually do search and rescue. We try to provide geospatial information and maps that support search and rescue.

Benjamin Davies: In an emergency event, would this information be immediately available/disseminated to NGO/mass care partners, or would it have to be vetted or go through a multi-level phased release in any way first?

Craig Skalet: I mentioned earlier the International Charter. That data is intended for government organizations, and there are licensing issues associated with that, so it does flow into USGS and the states to support a particular emergency, and there are restrictions for that. It is not publicly available data. The products, however, that are produced can be made publicly available. We try to post information on the acquisition of imagery as fast as we can to our HDDS site, and that site is provided in the list of data links in my presentation. You can go to that Web site and get access to the information. Pre-event information is there, and if we are doing collections, we try to post post-event as soon as we can.

J. Birch: Do you know of any use of GIRT resources to encourage/enable pre-disaster coordination between geographically similar and proximate organizations for response planning?

Craig Skalet: I wouldn’t put it all on the GIRT, but the GIRT participates. There are regular dry runs that occur. We just finished one in Southern California called "The Great Shake-out" preparing for the next major earthquake that could occur there. There’s regular participation by the USGS, by FEMA, by places like NORTHCOM, and state EOCs, when those events are set up. The Great Shake-out is the one that just happened last week. Every three of four months or so there’s another event that’s being staged and planned. I’d say there is a fair amount of pre-planning and coordination of getting ready for whatever the event might be.

Ric Skinner: Are there any grants that you're aware of that would fund implementation of GIRT in CERTs?

Craig Skalet: The one thing that comes to my mind is the grant program sponsored by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). I’m not sure if establishing a local GIRT would fit into their criteria, but it’s possible. Probably the way to check that out is to make a contact to the USGS Geospatial Liaison in the state that you are from. That person is going to be very familiar with the FGDC grant process, the cycle, when are proposals to be submitted.

Amy Sebring: I just happened to be on the FGDC website yesterday, http://www.fgdc.gov , and they do have their current announcement posted. Applications are due some time in January. [http://www.fgdc.gov/grants/2009NSDICAP/2009-cap-announced]

Victoria Smith: ESRI also has grant programs for software/equipment.

Amy Sebring: Doesn’t NASA have a geospatial organization that you coordinate with?

Craig Skalet: The link between USGS and NASA is strongest at our EROS center. Because of their interest and involvement in satellite information, they have a longstanding partnership/relationship with NASA. So I would suggest that is the best place to go to find out what USGS is doing with NASA.

Amy Sebring: It seems to me there has been an announcement recently from the USGS about making more of the Landsat imagery available. Do you know anything about that?

Craig Skalet: That’s right. That was a public announcement made the Secretary of the Interior at the ESRI International Conference in San Diego in August. The USGS is planning, and by now they should have already turned on the switch, to make all the Landsat data available for free.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Craig for an excellent job. Please stand by just a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

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Thanks to everyone for participating today. Please come again and join us for our last program of 2008 on Dec. 10th when our topic will be the activity of International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Committee 223 for Societal Security.

We stand adjourned.