GIS plays key role in NYC Rescue and Relief Operation



New York City, Sept. 17—The posters of missing loved ones are pasted onto New York City walls and street signs six days after 2 hijacked commercial airlines destroyed the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan on September 11. Several miles uptown from “ground zero,” heightened security hovers around the city's Office of Emergency Management rescue and relief command center, an around-the-clock operation. Police, firefighters, military, officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, communications technicians, and a beehive of others work in controlled chaos in this cavernous, convention center-sized hall, lined with computers and adorned with several American flags.

After the original command center at 7 World Trade Center collapsed to rubble as an after-effect of the plane strikes, city officials scrambled to recreate it. Alan Leidner, director of New York's citywide geographic information systems (GIS), and who is with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, knew that maps would be an integral component of the rescue and relief efforts. Maps provide emergency workers and others with accurate and detailed scientific data in the form of visual aids upon which they can make informed decisions.