GeoSuite®, a software application originally developed for the military, is the newest technology asset in the Texas Task Force 1 equipment cache. The digital tool was modified and customized for urban search and rescue operations by General Dynamics, and Texas Task Force 1 is the first urban search and rescue team to deploy it operationally.
The web-based application allows responders on the scene to provide critical data in real-time by touching icons that appear in the app on their cell phone, tablet or other mobile device. TX-TF1 used GeoSuite during its deployment to Moore, OK, in 2013.
“This is a game changer that ensures that critical information collected in the field is immediately in front of the eyes of those who need to see it,” said Texas Task Force 1 search team manager Susann Brown, who worked with General Dynamics and provided feedback to repurpose the military technology for search and rescue applications.
“It was hugely valuable in Moore,” Brown said. “For the first time, we could say with certainty that we know we searched 624 homes and the level of search conducted for each one. The team entered the data continually, so they never had to stop searching to record data on paper and call it in. That level of efficiency allowed us to move through the search area in Moore much faster. We were so efficient, we completed our assigned search area in one day instead of two.”
With the GeoSuite application installed on their personal cell phones or mobile devices, responders can enter information quickly as they complete a search by touching icons associated with a Google map of the search area.
“It’s easy to use, and color coding makes it easy to analyze outcomes in a rapidly evolving event,” Brown said. Color coding shows the various levels of destruction and colors change when a building has been searched or a victim has been rescued, she added. “It is easy to see any additional tasks that need to be completed and then send a message to the search team in the field.”
Information is stored in the cloud, accessed on a website and available in real-time.
“How it’s going to change our world is unknown, but we know it will change what we do,” Brown said. “We need to be flexible and forward thinking to apply it and to improve the efficiency and life-saving capabilities of what we do as a search and rescue team.” Read entire article.