Researchers at Texas A&M Launch Two Crisis Mapping Apps


Researchers at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have developed two new applications designed to help first responders during crisis events. Dr. Richard Smith, creator of two new emergency response apps, is now collaborating with Dr. Michelle Maresh-Fuehrer, Assistant Professor of Communication at A&M-Corpus Christi, to identify how the apps could aid first responders during emergencies.

Smith is Assistant Professor of Geographic Information Science and Geospatial Surveying Engineering at the Island University.

The applications are called SituMap and PhotoSorter. SituMap acts as a tablet-like digital command center that shows officers maps of the crisis area. PhotoSorter works in tandem with the SituMap application by allowing emergency responders, crisis planners, and community members to share pictures or video of the crisis.

Maresh-Fuehrer is working on extending the use of Smith’s social media mapping applications to enhance communication before, during, and after a crisis. Situ-Map builds on the dropped pin concept found in Google Maps. A pin can be created in the application that could represent a person, police car, or groups of people. The pin can be strategically positioned around the area and directions can then be relayed to officers at the emergency location.

The app also has a weather feature built into it which could be used during severe weather events such as a hurricane.

“A crisis event is typically a time of high stress and increased uncertainty for organizations and responders,” said Maresh-Fuehrer, who studies crisis communication strategies. “The applications developed by Dr. Smith have several features that allow for more informed and efficient crisis response.”

Researchers will next be working with first responders to test the applications and build on new versions.

*Image Credit: Crisis Apps 4 on Flickr