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Cincinnati Saving Lives via Open Data

In the Cincinnati area, a platform that collects open data has been instrumental in emergency situations.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to inspire change for the better. One product of Hurricane Ike’s impact on the Cincinnati area in 2008 was the creation of the Regional Asset Verification and Emergency Network (RAVEN911). Since its 2010 debut, the system has been deployed to deal with emergency situations, proving just how much society benefits from data management.

For the past five years, map-based RAVEN911 has been a tremendous asset. It takes data collected from schools, hospitals and fire stations and lays it over the maps via tools that incorporate real-time data, such as weather or traffic feeds, Government Technology reports. This allows RAVEN911 to address emergencies such as inclement weather,  chemical leaks and even bomb threats.

According to Government Technology, RAVEN911 deals with leaks by lifting information from weather feeds and pairing it with residential data to figure out how the chemicals might flow, how they could affect the area and what the appropriate evacuation routes should be. This presents a challenge, because the data is collected beyond city lines — it includes county and state lines as well. However, adopting a regional system is imperative when dealing with unpredictable outcomes.

“Emergencies don’t conform to political boundaries…any emergency that impacts multiple counties had the potential to create a blind spot for the responders responding outside of their home county,” said David Shuey, who serves as Geographic Information System (GIS) division manager for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Despite having pieces of its infrastructure that are specific to Greater Cincinnati, RAVEN911 also incorporates national data that first responders across the country can use. Shuey said that he’s “constantly amazed” by how many responders outside of Cincinnati sign up for RAVEN911 access. While RAVEN911 has been extremely useful in Cincinnati, Shuey also believes it can be used in other areas.

“Most regions possess similar data, but generally don’t have a vehicle for sharing it regionally,” Shuey explained. “Through collaboration of individual agencies, data could be consolidated into a common operating picture similar to RAVEN911.”

Duncan_Andison/Thinkstock
Nov 09 2015

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