Case Study: Disaster Response in the Gulf of Mexico - ERMA

Session Type: 
Tech Session
Aaron Racicot, Z-Pulley Inc.
Chander Ganesan

The Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) (a tool developed by the University of New Hampshire and NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration) is used by the US government to provide a comprehensive decision support system for responding to disasters. ERMA is built primarily using an Open Source Stack, that includes OpenLayers, MapServer, PostGIS, Linux, Apache, Python, GeoDjango, and GDAL/OGR - just to name a few.

In this session members of the ERMA development team will give you an overview of the tool and how its OSS components work together to provide a powerful framework for aggregating and presenting data from multiple sources in a unified web-based tool. In particular, we'll discuss:

  • User-facing tools to dynamically create MapServer configurations and add layers to dynamic maps.
  • Techniques used to provide for display of real-time tracking information including ship, aircraft, and ground team position information.
  • Leveraging GeoDjango to provide in-browser data analysis and query capabilities.
  • A framework to allow the web-based tool to operate effectively in an Internet-less environment.

We will also highlight an actual use-case focused on the deployment of ERMA as the Common Operational Picture (COP) for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster of 2010 (GOMEX). With over 16,000 layers currently residing in the GOMEX deployment of ERMA, the system has shown to be flexible and scalable in real world situations.

Finally, we will also describe a public facing version of ERMA deployed during the Gulf Oil Spill that successfully sustained 20+ million hits during the first 48 hours of deployment and was used extensively to convey the real time situation to the public on a daily basis.

Speaker Bio: 

Aaron Racicot is a GIS programmer and hacker at heart. Aaron is a charter member of OSGeo and an avid proponent of Open Source GIS software in the wild.

Chander Ganesan is an Open Source advocate with over a decade of experience. Chander develops and delivers training and provides consulting services focused around Open Source technologies.

Schedule info