NCEMA Conference to feature RENCI tools for disaster management

CHAPEL HILL, NC, February 27, 2008 – The 2008 North Carolina All Hazards Conference, the semi-annual meeting of the North Carolina Emergency Management Association (NCEMA), will feature a variety of projects and training programs of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) aimed at helping emergency managers.

The conference takes place March 2 -5 at Sunset Beach, where state and local emergency managers and researchers will discuss strategies for emergency planning and response. RENCI, in collaboration with emergency management partners at the state and county levels, will conduct sessions about deploying Web-based tools and prototypes of new technologies for disaster planning and response.

RENCI researchers and representatives from the NCEMA Technology Committee and the NCEM Geospatial and Technology Management, will present plans for integrating and deploying a number of electronic tools to the emergency management community. RENCI will demonstrate its Web-based workspace for emergency managers and discuss the initial deployment of the prototype site feedback received so far. The site pulls together a number of RENCI-developed products and services, including NC-FIRST, the RENCI weather information portal, and desktop conferencing software.

The session will include strategies on how these tools can enhance communications and capabilities when used with other tools, such as WebEOC, Web-based software designed to communicate real-time emergency information to emergency operations centers.

RENCI researchers and members of the NCEMA Technology Committee will also unveil initial prototypes of new technologies for the NCEMA, such as:

  • Portable GIS. The deployment of portable geographic information systems (GIS) available on flash drives the size of a thumb will enable emergency managers and responders to take critical data and GIS functions to the field. The flash drives with portable GIS data can be used on any computer with no licensing fees for mapping, identifying and using critical information. The portable information will also free up GIS experts to work on more critical tasks, since basic GIS information will be available to anyone.
  • GPS tracking. This prototype global positioning system uses wireless cards communicating over cell phone networks to track vehicles in the field and identify what is happening at specific sites during an emergency. The device can be used with a laptop or PDA and is intended to be a low-cost entry into Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems.
  • Lightning detection network. RENCI will introduce an early prototype of a device that is designed to detect lightening strikes in real time and display the data visually in a Web portal environment. Commercial lightening detection devices are available; however, they are usually too expensive for county or even state government.
  • Micro Rain Radar. This device, which provides advance warning of icing events and other localized weather, will be demonstrated. Data acquired during several winter rain and ice storms will de displayed to illustrate how the MRR can be used.

RENCI…Catalyst for Innovation
The Renaissance Computing Institute brings together computer and discipline scientists, artists, humanists, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, state leaders and educators for collaborations designed to reshape science, the economy, the state of North Carolina and the world. RENCI leverages its expertise and resources in leading edge computing, networking and data technologies to ignite innovation and find solutions to previously intractable problems. Founded in 2004 as a major collaborative venture of Duke University, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina, RENCI is a statewide virtual organization.  For more, see