The Role of Geospatial Data and Technology in Emergency Management

In times of emergency we look to the leaders of our community to provide peace of mind and reassurance that everything that can be done to safeguard us from a sudden disaster, has been done. It is a massive undertaking, requiring education and planning from all spectrums of the community. The fundamental purpose of emergency management is to save lives, preserve the environment and protect property and the economy.

Geospatial data, specifically aerial imagery, has been used for many decades in assisting communities plan and mitigate both natural and man-made emergencies. In support of the upcoming NAIT Emergency Management Stakeholders Summit, we will explore the four main components of emergency management and how geospatial data plays a role in all aspects. If you attend the summit be sure to join Tarin at our Breakout Networking Session March 24, 2021 at 11:10am and “Learn Fun Facts About Alberta with Geospatial Trivia!”

The Four Components of Emergency Management

Emergency management in all levels of the Government contain the same four components to maximize the safety of Canadians.

Prevention and Mitigation – eliminate or reduce the risks of disasters such as structural and non-structural mitigative measures. A good plan will always reduce losses and costs associated with clean up and rebuilding. New digital twin technology allows us to recreate our cities at an almost 1:1 scale to virtually plan how to mitigate loss. Geospatial data and technology assists with construction of floodways and dykes, building codes, land-use planning and insurance.

Preparedness – to be ready to respond to a disaster and manage its consequences through measures taken prior to an event. Using GIS to model different emergencies gives us practice and makes us ready for what’s to come. It is often used to for emergency response plans, mutual assistance agreements, resource inventories and training as well as public awareness activities.

Response – to act during or immediately before or after a disaster to manage its consequences to minimize suffering and losses associated with disasters. Having access to accurate up-to-date LiDAR and imagery allows emergency response teams to see what they are up against before heading out the door, making their efforts safer and more economical. It plays a major role in emergency public communications, search and rescue, emergency medical assistance and evacuation.

Recovery – to repair or restore conditions to an acceptable level through measures taken after a disaster. Collecting 3-D stereo imagery after a disaster such as a tornado or hailstorm, allows industry to assess damages and plan for reconstruction without having to go on location. Geospatial data and technology plays an important role in the return of evacuees, reconstruction, economic impact studies as well as financial assistance.

Geospatial Data in Action

Successful emergency management requires extensive amounts of geospatial data such as aerial and satellite imagery, LiDAR and digital elevation models as well as infrared and thermal imaging. Access to accurate, relevant geospatial data can improve planning, response times, collaboration, and communication during the most challenging circumstances.

Geospatial Data Examples: Satellite Imagery from our Partners at Planet


Madrid, Iowa – Aug 11, 2020 – Source: PlanetScope

On August 10, 2020 a derecho that produced winds of up to 140 mph tore through Iowa. The storm devastated communities and ravaged the state’s corn crop. Destruction from high winds is visible in PlanetScope imagery from August 11 as light green fields where the corn was blown flat. In contrast, imagery from August 9th shows the dark green of healthy, upright crops in these same fields only two days before.



Beirut, Lebanon – Aug 5, 2020 – Source: Skysat

This pair of SkySat images shows some of the damage caused by the explosion of 2,750 metric tons (just over six million pounds) of ammonium nitrate in Beirut Port. An image collected on May 31, 2020 (left), shows the warehouse where the material was stored and the surrounding infrastructure. An image collected at 11:17 a.m. on August 5, 2020 (the day after the explosion, right), shows some of the aftermath—a water-filled crater where the warehouse once stood, damaged grain silos, and a capsized cruise ship.



Ellesmere Island, Canada – Jul 31, 2020 – Source: PlanetScope

Years of exceptionally warm temperatures led to the collapse of the Milne Ice Shelf in Arctic Canada. These PlanetScope images show the shelf on July 26 (left) and July 31, 2020 (right). Planet’s frequent, high resolution data is available to scientific researchers around the world and helps address problems from global warming to urban growth.

– For more information about Planet and their products contact a Tarin Geo-Wizard today!

Aerial Thermal Imaging in Action

Rapid deployment of resources is essential to the containment of wildfires. Todays technology can provide real-time aerial infrared data completely geo-referenced, ready for fire analysis. Real time delivery of thermal fire data allows wildfire management officers to make fast and informed decisions with confidence.

Geospatial Data Examples: Aerial Thermal Imagery from our Partners at VeriMap

Top: Wildfire Perimeter: 150cm ~ Bottom: Wildfire Hotspot Data: 150CM

– For more information about VeriMap and their Wildfire Mgt Solutions contact a Tarin Geo-Wizard today!

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Action

Utilizing geospatial data within a GIS creates a visual representation which industry leaders can use to prevent, prepare, respond, and recover from disasters. It is used for such components as land-use planning, proximity studies, flood zones, visibility and vegetation studies, environmental impact studies, emergency response plans, weather pattern predictions, evacuation routes for people, vehicles and livestock, rural addressing, crop identification, GPS locating, real time data for first responders, location intelligence and reconstruction.

Geospatial Technology Example: Tarin’s Aerial Imagery streamed into a GIS

– For more information about Tarin’s Aerial Imagery and GIS Services contact a Tarin Geo-Wizard today!

3D Mesh & Digital Twins

The ability to collect airborne imagery at different angles and a ton of overlap has allowed us to virtually recreate our reality in great detail.  In the fall of 2020 Tarin collected downtown Calgary, Alberta at 2cm resolution and produced a 3D Mesh of The Bow Building and surrounding structures.  We can pair this data with IoT data to create a digital twin of our built environment and simulate real world events to aid in planning and monitoring.

Geospatial Technology Example: Tarin’s Aerial 3D Mesh

– For more information about Tarin’s 3D Mesh contact a Tarin Geo-Wizard today!

Where Can I Access Geospatial Data?

Geospatial data is the key to visualizing information, which is why it has become one of the most sought-after forms of data. The proper collection, analysis, and usability of timely and relevant data can mean the difference between success and failure.

Through strategic partnering, Tarin offers clients access to a comprehensive imagery and LiDAR database delivering the best geospatial products and services that today’s technology can offer. Our Geo-wizards are trained experts with 50 years of combined experience. We take pride in working together and being able to help you and our community thrive.

For more information on how Tarin can assist with your emergency management plans please contact Or join us virtually on March 24, 2021, where we will be hosting a breakout session from 11:10am-11:40am at the 2021 Emergency Management Stakeholder Summit, hosted by NAIT’s Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management.


2021 Emergency Management Stakeholder Summit

NAIT’s Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency Management

March 23-24, 2021 8:30am-1:00pm

The Centre for Applied Disaster and Emergency

Management at NAIT will be hosting the 2021 Emergency Management Stakeholder Summit, the premier innovation-focused emergency management conference in Alberta. This vital and popular professional development opportunity will inspire disaster and emergency management partners with thought-provoking and innovative ideas as well as a platform to build and strengthen relationships and networking opportunities. The two-day conference will feature highly regarded keynote speakers from the disaster and emergency management field and offer a wide array of breakout sessions focused on topics including innovation, leadership, technological literacy, and community engagement.