NCEMA conference to reveal new disaster management tools

CHAPEL HILL, NC, March 3, 2009 – RENCI will showcase new disaster management tools and programs at the annual spring conference of the North Carolina Emergency Managers Association (NCEMA) in Sunset Beach, NC.

The conference, to be held March 8-11, will bring emergency managers and researchers from across the state together to discuss current trends, tools and technologies in emergency management. RENCI will feature its 360-degree video system, a new version of the North Carolina Emergency Management Web Portal, and a new training course – “Thunderstorms” – a unit of the NC-FIRST weather portal. The RENCI exhibitor’s booth also will demonstrate and display its disaster management tools.

The new video system, made by Immersive Media of Portland, OR, acquires high definition imagery from a moving vehicle or a person on foot that covers a full 360 degrees. The system uses 11 high-definition video cameras and stitches the images together into one high-definition video. RENCI is testing the system in rapidly assessing disaster situations with video shot from a car, helicopter and even a Segway scooter. Before the start of the hurricane season, RENCI plans to capture complete visual data of the North Carolina coastline so that emergency responders will have a comprehensive “before” picture of the coast in case a hurricane strikes.

The new North Carolina Emergency Management Web Portal, a collaborative website that allows users to post their own content and working groups to post training opportunities, documents and other content, has many new and updated features. The portal includes:

  • A quarterly newsletter with news and articles by the members,
  • A blog by Rocky Hyder, president of the NCEMA,
  • NC-FIRST weather information portal, where live weather data is posted for the user’s residential area.
  • An instant messaging feature

RENCI will also field test one unit of its NC FIRST training course “Thunderstorms.” The unit presents an in-depth discussion of thunderstorm meteorology that is applicable to emergency managers and an introduction to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) products that can be used for understanding thunderstorms. The training will be presented by Jessica Proud, RENCI meteorologist and NC-FIRST program manager, and Jeff Orrock, warming coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

The Thunderstorms unit will be incorporated into the NC-FIRST training course, which now part of North Carolina’s Emergency Management Certification Program offered through 27 community colleges across the state.

RENCI…Catalyst for Innovation
The Renaissance Computing Institute, a multi-institutional organization, brings together multidisciplinary experts and advanced technological capabilities to address pressing research issues and to find solutions to complex problems that affect the quality of life in North Carolina, our nation and the world. RENCI leverages its expertise and resources in leading edge computing, visualization, networking and data technologies to catalyze new collaborations and solve 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.