Unsung Flood Heroes Map Out Innovative Crisis Response

Esri Australia's Flood Heroes

Esri Australia's Volunteers: (L – R) Anton Delporte, Ben Somerville, Peter Lambert, Dominique Berger, Mark Billing

Not all of the heroes who emerged from the Brisbane flood disaster used tugboats, helicopters or even shovels – some, like location intelligence expert Dominique Berger, were armed simply with a laptop and an internet connection.

Dom was one of a brigade of volunteers from Esri Australia (which also included Ben Somerville, Anton Delporte, Peter Lambert and Mark Billing) who worked around the clock with Brisbane City Council for five days during the crisis to develop and maintain an interactive, online flood mapping system.

 Known as the Brisbane City Council (BCC) Flood Map, the system compiled flood data from across disaster-struck Brisbane – such as flood peaks, road closures and evacuation centres – onto a map to provide a comprehensive, real-time picture of the flood.

FloodMap was a key information source for emergency response teams and the Brisbane City Council, guiding recovery operations and supporting critical decisions.

More than three million members of the public also accessed the map at the height of the crisis, to view the scope of damage and access important updates.

The importance of the BCC Flood Map was just recently acknowledged when the project was selected from an international pool of 100,000 nominees to receive a 2011 Special Achievement in GIS Award, presented annually by Esri Inc. to recognise excellence in the application of their GIS technology.

Dom and Anton navigate the BCC Flood Map

Although the team’s efforts were crucial to one of Australia’s largest disaster response operations, and lead to a landmark change in the way Australia responds to large-scale crises, Dom said she and her colleagues didn’t feel heroic.

“We all live in Brisbane and had family, friends and clients affected by the floods, so it became very personal for us,” she said.

 “We all knew what the technology was capable of and how useful the Flood Map could be to the response efforts – we didn’t think twice about helping out. Like everyone else, we wanted to do our part. We wanted to make a difference.”

Find out more – read the media release.

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