UCGIS Held Congressional Breakfast in Washington D.C.

By Dr. Ling Bian

Congressional Breakfast UCGIS held a successful 2004 Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, on February 5-6 on Capitol Hill.This year's congressional program focused on the theme of homeland security, showcasing the role of geographic information science in addressing various homeland security issues to Congress staff.The program featured seven presentations from UCGIS member institutions to report research results in border security support, atmospheric hazards prediction, evacuation planning, epidemics control, critical facilities protection, rapid data integration in response to unexpected events, and current and future research needs for homeland security.These presentations are representative of research activities supported by federal funding at various member institutions. More than 100 people attended the congressional program, including 30 representatives from Congressional offices, senior administrators from numerous federal agencies, and delegates from UCGIS member institutions.The Congressional Breakfast presented concise overviews of seven research projects that are useful for homeland security.
  • Border Security Support: Funded by NASA, researchers from San Diego State University are leading the effort to develop a spatial decision support system in order to secure the U.S.borders against the passage of smugglers of weapons, undocumented people, and illicit substances.This smart command and control system is equipped with state-of-the-art imaging and mapping technologies in order to monitor sensitive features in the border enforcement zone, to locate interdictions of smugglers and undocumented immigrants, and to predict potential landing sites for smuggler aircraft and to assess foot and vehicular trafficability along our borders.
  • Atmospheric Hazard Prediction: Funded by NASA and DOD, the George Mason University research team is developing methods for atmospheric hazard prediction.The methods integrate atmospheric models, GIS, and near-real time remote sensing data to assess the impact of hazardous atmospheric releases on populations and environment.Results of the impact assessment can be disseminated effectively to the public through high-performance Internet GIS for timely responses.
  • Evacuation Planning: The evacuation planning project led by researchers at the University of Minnesota is funded by the US Army Research Laboratory and the Federal Highway Authority.The goal of the project is to identify optimal evacuation routes and schedules in order to move at-risk populations to safety in the event of terrorist attacks, catastrophes, or natural disasters.These researchers developed novel algorithms to minimize the evacuation time against limited transportation network capacity and possible large at-risk populations.
  • Controlling Epidemics: The epidemic control project, led by researchers at the University of Maryland, is funded by the Office of Navel Research.Epidemics of infectious diseases such as SARS, smallpox, and periodic killer influenzas can cause severe harm, from mortality rates as high as thirty percent to social and economic disruption due to panics and economic inactivity.The researchers developed an agent-based approach to model the spread of infectious diseases between cities in order to identify cities at risk, strategies to control the spread, and priorities to vaccine the potentially at-risk population.
  • Protecting Critical Facilities: The researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara are developing planning techniques to identify critical infrastructure for the purpose of minimizing the impacts of natural, accidental, and deliberate hazards. The research goal is to provide a mathematical tool for identifying the optimal set of facilities to fortify, at the loss some facilities, and to hedge against the most disruptive interdiction of facilities.This project is funded by the U.S.Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration.
  • Rapid Data Integration in Response to Unexpected Events: The research team at the University of Southern California is conducting a research on rapid data integration in response to unexpected events.The research team developed a framework to integrate online data sources with geospatial data sources.The framework supports rapid, dynamic integration of a wide variety of sources and can greatly improve the nation's ability to respond to unexpected events.This research project is funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • Research Needs: To conclude the program, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Executive Director presented results of a project funded by NSF and led by AAG to identify a research agenda in order to address the geographical dimensions of terrorism.The September 11, 2001 events raised both immediate and long-term concerns regarding the geographic dimensions of terrorism. New challenges and opportunities exist for geographic information science to play a vital role in addressing these concerns.

Click here to view the presentations.

The congressional program in the morning was followed by the federal briefings in the afternoon. Representatives from a number of federal government agencies reported to UCGIS delegates the needs and funding opportunities in the federal agencies for geographic information science research and education.Six federal agencies participated in the briefings: Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), National Science Foundation (NSF), US Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Click here for further information about the briefings.

Published Thursday, March 11th, 2004

Written by Dr. Ling Bian

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