DRDC – Centre for Security Science

Web Risk Assessment Management System (WRAMS)

The Public Security Technical Program, a federally-funded program led by the Defence R&D Canada – Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS), funded a project to integrate hazard simulation models (HAZUS) into the evolving Multi-Agency Situational Awareness System (MASAS) national emergency management framework. This project contributes to a broader Government of Canada effort to support the development and operationalization of MASAS capabilities.

For the Web Risk Assessment Management System (WRAMS), Galdos built a registry service for storing and managing the hazard models as well as web-based client applications for using and administering the registry.

The Challenge

Defence R&D Canada – Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) is a joint endeavour between the Department of National Defence and Public Safety Canada to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, crime, natural disasters, and serious accidents through the convergence of science and technology with policy, operations and intelligence.

MASAS is the Multi-Agency Situational Awareness System originally developed by the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, which was funded by GeoConnections as part of a multi-agency situational awareness initiative with the intention of expanding MASAS to a national deployment. MASAS is intended to better enable emergency management practitioners in preparing for and mitigating the impacts of emergency incidents through timely sharing of geospatially-referenced information.

Hazus is a natural hazard loss estimation software package based on geographic information and developed and freely distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The impetus for the project was the desire to integrate Hazus hazard simulation models into the MASAS national emergency management framework so that emergency personnel could use the data from the simulations in their response plans. The problem was that there was no central access point for storing, sharing, and discovering hazard event models. The hazard simulations could not easily be integrated with the national emergency management system, which made the hazard models difficult to share with the emergency personnel who needed to use the actionable data from the simulations for planning and decision making.

Estimating the potential for damages and losses caused by natural hazard threats is an essential element of risk-based planning and decision making at all levels of government. Understanding the impacts and potential consequences of a hazard threat provides the necessary foundation for developing mitigation strategies that reduce system vulnerability and that promote disaster resilience over time.

Fixed response or control centers might not be accessible by their staff during a real emergency. This is especially true in places where many communities are connected to one another by bridges or tunnels or other barriers, which may be subjected to flooding or other conditions that restrict staff’s ability to reach a formal control center. Virtual control centers may enable coordination tasks to be distributed, and may provide coordination even when key staff cannot reach the formal control center. This has implications for the survivability of global infrastructures such as the Internet, which provide the mechanisms by which coordination can be achieved across a diverse set of players that are geographically distributed.

The Solution

Galdos Systems, with many years of experience with geographic data, data sharing, and open standards, offered a solution based on the INdicio Framework. The Web Risk Assessment Management System (WRAMS) provided web-based access and public GIS clients for use by Emergency Management personnel in communities of all sizes from large cities to small hamlets.

Screen shot of WRAMS Public Client

Screenshot of WRAMS Public Client

The system includes client applications which allow technical personnel to load event models of potential hazards such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes and to have the results of these simulations automatically filed in a registry so that they can be easily found and used by others. The stored hazard simulations are visualized on a map using the WRAMS client.

System administrators can use WRAMS to predefine maps based on themes. A theme is a group of predefined indicators that can provide users with a quick view of the situation; for example, an administrator can create a theme map representing “Vulnerable Populations” that can be affected by an Earthquake. WRAMS outputs are available in KMZ/KML and ebRIM format.

WRAMS also provides graphical charts for some indicators, such as the estimated damages by building type being represented as a pie chart based on whether the building is made of wood, concrete, or some other material. The MASAS Flex-based client was extended for this project in order to visualize output models, such as the display of building damages, directly in the MASAS client.

Screen shot of WRAMS Public Client

Screenshot Showing Details of Roads/Structures Impacted by Earthquake

The Outcome

First line emergency personnel are able to search independently through the registry based on key indicators of interest to them such as project building damage, available shelter areas, alternate emergency facilities, and so on, as determined from the simulation. This provides emergency personnel with understandable and actionable information for pre-event planning, as well for decision making during a crisis event.

Users of the WRAMS service have the ability to share model outputs with other users and systems. When a user decides to share a model, a notification is sent from WRAMS to MASAS. MASAS users can than discover the newly available models using existing MASAS clients.

Download the official DRDC CSS report [PDF – 2MB]