Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alabama's Security Chief Talks Google Earth on the Hill



Earlier we told you about how Sen. Ben Nelson used Google Earth and Maps to illustrate his trip to Iraq. Yesterday, a state government official hit Capitol Hill to talk about how his agency is using Google Earth for homeland security.

Jim Walker, the head of Alabama's Homeland Security department, testified before Congress Wednesday about how his state is improving emergency preparedness and response efforts across the government. Jim and his team have developed a program called Virtual Alabama, which uses Google Earth technology to track critical infrastructure and sensitive security data, allowing state and local first responders to quickly find the information they need when responding to an incident. As Jim testified before the House Homeland Security Committee:
Local and state officials can layer and tailor secure information about their jurisdictions and feed it into a broader database that will give state and federal decision makers valuable and timely information. With existing state GIS (Geographic Information System) and orthophotographic data, we are able to transform massive amounts of useful information into a common operational picture. Examples of real-time applications include emergency evacuation routing, vehicle and asset tracking, critical infrastructure mapping, plume modeling, real-time sensor feeds, real-time streaming video, risk visualization, and post-event imagery placed alongside pre-event imagery.
So far, Virtual Alabama includes data from more than half of Alabama's 67 counties, with more than 1,085 subscribers accessing the program. Of course, there are lots more interesting examples of Google Earth uses over at the Lat Long blog.

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