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CSULB and Depiction Partner to Prepare Emergency Managers

Published: September 1, 2010

CSULB and Depiction, Inc. partnered this summer to provide emergency management students with hands-on experience using the latest mapping and simulation technology to prepare for tomorrow’s disasters.

CSULB Professor Casey Goeller and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Kim Buike of Depiction Inc., team taught the special topics course “Depiction Disaster Simulation Software,” offered for the first time this summer to students in the master’s program in emergency services administration. Students learned to use the Depiction mapping, simulation and collaboration software platform to prepare for emergencies and manage disaster response.

The summer course was the first ever to utilize Depiction as a core classroom component.

“When we began our search for a program to simulate emergency management situations, we were looking for something with a visual interface, communications capability, and with powerful yet easy-to-use content analysis and simulation tools,” said Goeller. “On top of that, it had to be affordable. We found that Depiction filled all these requirements.”

“The goal of the course was not only to teach students how to use the software,” said Buike, “but to give them real-life mapping and scenario-building skills that will enable them to better perform many tasks integral to emergency management.”

During the course, students used Depiction in such basic tasks as flood simulation, evacuation planning and locating and integrating multiple geospatial imagery and data sources. Students also created interactive, neighborhood-level situational awareness maps; table-top exercises using a search-and-rescue scenario that can be replayed remotely by multiple participants; and disaster education presentations that can be presented to members of the public and civic leaders in their own communities.

“I would like to see the action plan developed for this scenario lead to the development of other action plans for many of the other risks facing the city of Downey,” said Michael Parino, a CSULB student with the Downey (Calif.) Police Department. “By developing response plans for earthquakes, flooding, explosions, etc., we become a more prepared community. The possibilities are really endless with this software. As long as you have data which can be illustrated in a map, whether it is a disaster, crime, or even home preparedness, Depiction can turn the data into a useful and powerful display.”

Depiction course screenshot

Depiction is desktop software that puts mapping, simulation and collaboration tools in the hands of everyday people. The software will be utilized again this semester as a portion of “Information Literacy for Emergency Services Administration,” and the Depiction special topics course will be offered again in spring of 2011.

“As a training tool, I will use Depiction for monthly ‘watch’ training for briefings regarding crime trends. I will import crime statistics that will assist in identifying specific trends for better resource allocation and patrol response,” said Raul Ahumada, a CSULB student with the Seal Beach (Calif.) Police Department. “I already used Depiction in preparation for our 4th of July holiday weekend.”

In addition to emergency managers, Depiction can be used by community volunteers, corporations and government agencies to quickly and easily build interactive geospatial scenarios in order to gain new insights into their communities.

For more information about the CSULB Emergency Services Administration (EMER) Program, call 562/985-7489 or visit the EMER website. To learn more about the Depiction software, visit its website.

–Rick Gloady