Takeaways from the NGPS Summit

I just got back from the 2018 National Geospatial Preparedness Summit in Boulder, Colorado. The venue was perfect despite being a bit colder than I perpared for. It was my first time in Colorado so we went up the day before and took in some of the sites. We stopped in Denver for a bit and had lunch and stopped by Enstrom (in Cherry Creek North) where my boss stocked up on toffee for the family. I was able to find some vegan dark chocolate and it was such a pleasant experience my tastebuds are still thanking me and asking for more.  Dinner at the West End Tavern in Boulder was such a delight we whnt there twice! If you love meat the butcher block is quite the experience. Getting back to the actual conference, first off the theme of the conference was all about preparedness for emergencies (hurricane, flood, tsunami, blizzards, zombie apocalypse etc.) There were a number of different speakers and sessions, technology demos, and training workshops.  In the end we all participated in the winter wrath exercise.   It was a huge download of solid information for me and I learned a alot.

The three things that I took away from the conference were:

  1. New Piece of knowledge– You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to geo-enabling your emergency response plans, there are lots of guidelines and templates out there that can be adapted and used locally.
  2. Communications Skills- As GIS Professionals we bring a lot to the table tech-wise but it is important to communicate to the emergcency response team what GIS can do for them even without an internet connection. Sometimes when asked for maps during a live event ask for clarification if they want a list of schools do they need them by by status (open/closed), same with shelters, roads, etc. don’t assume always keep the communications lines open and yah about that intenet connection thing don’t assume it will be there be prepared for the worst keep a fresh copy of the database locally and keep updated copies of physical maps you can markup handy.
  3. Leardership Skills– Sometimes you have to step up! Preparedness is key, it’s important to start preparing before the big event happens. If you have to have a more than a few free lunches to get the plan started or revised, get some training/ cross-training going, have some winter wrath or the big flood excersises, STEP IT UP! It’s OK to start with one or two like-minded persons, meet people where they are, figure out what they can bring to the table and get them involved. Also, there are a lot of agencies out there that have pleanty of experience in these matters, draw upon the resources of your colleagues if you need to bring in a speaker to get things started do that, need some help? Pick up the phone and make that call.