VGI for Flood Plains Around MyHouse

Fantom Planet’s post suggests ESRI is paying more attention to volunteered geographic information VGI. Fantom Planet’s concept of Generation M: Me, MyMaps, MySpace is useful. Once the Generation M becomes home owners, I think we will see MyHouse, a web site that lets me use geography to organize my activities in my neighborhood.

Take flood plains for example. Recently I saw in the newspaper that FEMA was updating the flood plain maps. But wait, Generation M doesn’t read newspapers – MyHouse must get GeoRSS alerts for things like this.

The old maps are inaccurate …

To see the draft updated maps go here I must go here and pull up a very Gen-X ArcIMS site.

We have 90 days to file protests against the new maps. If I had other info I could mashup against the map, it would make it much easier to explain my protest. Protestors should be allowed to mark up a public map where neighbors can review.

FEMA needs to recognize VGI and provide guidelines for the local authorities coordinating the map updates. The guidelines would encourage (RestFul) practices that would allow sites like MyHouse to integrate. The information volunteered by protestors is crucial to allow creation more accurate maps.

On the political side, there are likely other activities in FEMA that could benefit from VGI as well, like for emergency response. So maybe when the next administration cleans house VGI can be introduced comprehensively. (Now when is that California primary?)

On the technical side, once ESRI fixes ElementGraphicsLayer.WriteXml and provides the new mashup capability in 9.3 maybe MyHouse could be built with ArcGIS Server. Until then I must say building MyHouse would be easier with other tools.

On the philosophical side, by selfishly collecting data for MyHouse I would indirectly benefit my neighborhood (my herd).


3 comments so far

  1. Dave Smith on

    The BFEs are based on HEC water surface profiles, which are built from stream geometry and sections. Many of these runs were done 20+ years ago, with data hand-scaled from paper maps and run on computer hardware that could only accomodate a very limited number of data points. The resultant profile data was then again plotted by hand onto the maps – and in many instances, the base maps do not line up.

    Lots of problems. The ideal solution would be to rerun these, with the benefit of updated data on the built environment in the floodplain and high-resolution elevation data (e.g. LIDAR) and GIS-oriented approaches, but obviously given the number of stream miles and floodplain acres across the US, this would be a very daunting task.

    However, the notion of a tool for geographically logging LOMA activity, floodplain certs, complaints and protests, along with geospatial analysis of demographic and building trends would be a great tool toward prioritizing areas for updating and modernization.

    FEMA needs to wake up and move beyond digitizing paper maps and take an entirely new approach.

  2. Kirk Kuykendall on

    Hi Dave –

    Last year I was really impressed by how many people sent photos to the local newspaper’s website during a flood event. Given a large number of photos of flood levels at known locations and times, it seems like this volunteered information would be useful for model calibration.


  3. […] RFID for MyHouse Posted March 19, 2008 This is an elaboration of the MyHouse concept I mentioned in a previous post. […]

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