Mobile mapping helps tsunami-hit Aceh

Mobile geographical information systems have proved their worth in the wake of the Dec. 26 tsunami in Asia.

Immediately after the event, U.S. GIS vendor ESRI formed a response team and set up a web site to co-ordinate information. As part of this, consultant Gde Agung, a native Balinese, was sent to Aceh, the worst-hit area in Indonesia, to help the Ministry of Health there develop its information structures and identify strategic facilities and available resources.

Agung has since been seconded to New Zealand, where he is working for ESRI distributor Eagle Technology.

“So much aid was coming in from around the world that the government was overwhelmed, and co-ordination was lacking,” he says. “It was critical that they were better informed, so they could distribute resources.” Aceh, he says, was flat as far as the eye could see after the tsunami.

“The challenge was that there was no data to start with. The only resource available was a paper topographical map that was 40 years old.

“I went to a mapping agency in Jakarta and found that people from other agencies, such as the World Health Organisation, were ordering maps. We could immediately see we all needed to be much more coordinated.”

Agung took the 40-sheet map back to Bali where he digitised it as a continuous map. He contacted other sources to include old maps that had partial views of major highways and some satellite images.

“I then showed the base map I’d created to the army. They were the only ones who had access on the ground. They were happy with it.

“We needed mobile computing units, so we sent a request to ESRI. One of their business partners, Thales, responded immediately and we received nine ArcPads within three days.”

The ArcPad is a mobile GIS unit, with a GPS, that runs on Windows CE.

The Ministry of Health then allocated field officers to gather base information anf then update the attributes. This may have included, for example, the position of a temporary clinic, the number of doctors there, the status of drugs and the kind of operations being performed.

Agung says the communications infrastructure was not capable of allowing the field officers to report online, so flash cards were collected from them. The process is on-going. The central system is located in Jakarta.

Although he is now based in New Zealand, Agung gets regular SMS updates so he can monitor the performance of the system.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Featured Articles

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how technology can build a better employee experience

Across the country, employees from organizations of all sizes expect flexibility...

What’s behind the best customer experience: How to make it real for your business

The best customer experience – the kind that builds businesses and...

Overcoming the obstacles to optimized operations

Network-driven optimization is a top priority for many Canadian business leaders...

Thriving amid Canada’s tech talent shortage

With today’s tight labour market, rising customer demands, fast-evolving cyber threats...

Staying protected and compliant in an evolving IT landscape

Canadian businesses have changed remarkably and quickly over the last few...

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now