Esri India Geospatial

GIS and Emergency Management | Esri India

The frequency and intensity of emergencies that we are witnessing today are way higher than anything we have seen before. The economic, social, and environmental impact of these emergencies is immense, making it necessary to use ‘technology’ to effectively prepare, respond, and recover from them. Real-time data-driven insights from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can lead to more efficient decision-making, right from preparation to recovery.

Prepare more strategically with GIS

Emergency management solutions powered by GIS aid in visualizing and analyzing risks, modelling and designing mitigation projects, and communicating with the whole community to build resilience from the ground.

COVID-19 was an emergency of unprecedented magnitude that took the world by storm. As the country worked towards creating war rooms to fight the menace, GIS became the most important enabler. For instance, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) launched a war room to address the coronavirus pandemic on Mar 23, 2020.

It operated 24×7, collaboratively with multiple agencies to monitor cases and address the epidemic. The key activities included real-time information gathering for situational analysis and actionable insights and also sharing the information with the citizens. With the use of GIS technology, critical and less critical zones in the city were mapped for effective quarantine measures.

ArcGIS COVID-19 templates and dashboards were used for obtaining date-wise, zone-wise, hospital-wise, age-wise, and gender-wise details on a daily basis. This multi-layer comprehensive data visualization and spatiotemporal analysis proved to be very helpful in reducing the spread of coronavirus disease and saving citizens from the pandemic.

BBMP COVID-19 Dashboard; Source: Esri India

While COVID created a unique environment for GIS adoption, on a regular basis, geographic advantage can be used by administrators to safeguard citizens from traffic bottlenecks, crimes, fires, riots, and more. Across the country, traffic administrators are using GIS-based traffic and incident management systems to operate roadways at their peak efficiency. ArcGIS dashboards are helping in monitoring bottlenecks, keeping travellers updated about traffic conditions, and preventing accidents by identifying the hotspots and localities prone to accidents.

GIS dashboards also enable law enforcement agencies to identify crime hot spots, crime patterns, and even shifts in crime patterns in course of time. Such information becomes vital for curbing crime as it ensures the effective allocation of personnel, patrolling, vehicles, etc. in crime-prone areas. GIS takes the center stage when it comes to other emergencies like fire as well. It enables fire service staff to perform a comprehensive analysis to support the development of all types of plans.

Additionally, an integral part of emergency management is to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of both natural and man-made disasters. This is where GIS has been playing a pivotal role as well. Be it modelling through early warning systems or using decision support systems to understand which disaster is going to affect which areas the most, the preparation becomes better, efforts become more directed, and responses are faster. To cite an example, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Center (KSNDMC) uses ArcGIS to provide timely and proactive science and technology inputs to help relevant agencies prevent and actively deal with disasters.

Realizing the benefits of GIS-based solutions for having a safer world, the Government is also increasingly investing in making geospatial and satellite data more widely and openly available. This is leading to increased public-private partnerships to create innovative solutions and data products to prepare, mitigate and recover from disasters more efficiently.

Esri India has also recently developed Indo ArcGIS, which among the 100+ solutions data products and applications, includes a specially curated solution for disaster preparedness and management. It provides automated alerts and lives feeds for active hazards and possible disasters. Indo ArcGIS already has more than 500+ India-specific datasets readily available which can aid in solving crucial problems in the realm of Burnt Area Assessment, Carbon Sequestration, Forest Fire Management, Forest Incidents, Locust Watch, Volunteer Registration, and a lot more.

Respond rapidly with GIS

When an emergency strikes, it becomes vital for emergency management professionals to remain informed at all points. This makes response efforts quicker and more directed. GIS helps them in maintaining situational and operational awareness, quickly analyzing the incident impact, assessing damage, deploying needed resources, and educating, inform, and warn the public. ArcGIS dashboards can enable the stakeholders to make the right data-driven decisions and help the emergency responders save lives and property quickly.

GIS also aids in identifying the location of the event and the availability and proximity of appropriate first responders and can be used to provide an operational understanding of risks associated with the call or possible routing hazards such as flooded roadways, damaged bridges, and so on. A GIS-integrated emergency response solution provides more actionable information and capability.

Any emergency requires a well-coordinated and collaborative response to handle the situation. GIS ensures coordinated response and more collaboration by connecting users across roles, agencies, and jurisdictions. ArcGIS Dashboards provide the perfect way to communicate what’s happening right now, including displaying damaged clusters. This information enables planners to prioritize critical facilities for priority restoration.

Esri India’s Indo Arc GIS offers out-of-the-box GIS solutions and data products to solve India’s most pressing challenges

Esri India’s Indo Arc GIS offers out-of-the-box GIS solutions and data products to solve India’s most pressing challenges; Source: Esri India

Indo ArcGIS’ disaster preparedness and management solutions also help in locating available resources for efficient disaster response and mitigation. Assessing the population and area under disaster impact, it provides simple-to-use apps that aid in effective decision support in the middle of a crisis.

Recover methodically with GIS

GIS can also largely help in rehabilitation and post-emergency reconstruction. Recovery efforts can take years, and it’s critical to avoid missteps that delay progress. It can help in documenting and managing the situation, planning, and distributing resources where they are needed most for the community, and monitoring and evaluating recovery indicators while providing transparency when it is needed the most.

In case of disasters, effective damage assessment facilitated by GIS helps in gaining accurate results in damaged infrastructure, the number of households damaged, families displaced, casualties and injured, etc. This accurate estimation leads to the more effective delivery of relief measures to the right people at the right time. Furthermore, by facilitating the establishment of a communication network, GIS helps in re-establishing communication in the aftermath of a disaster.


With both man-made and natural hazards increasing in frequency and severity, effective emergency management has become essential. Using geospatial technologies like GIS, it is possible to minimize the potential risks by developing early warning strategies, preparing, and implementing developmental plans to provide resilience and even rehabilitation and post-disaster reconstruction can be expeditated.  With geospatial technology, emergency management strategy can take the most innovative and useful form.