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GCN : November and December 2014
GIS DATA area coordination centers,' which is where they look at the geographic area strategically and help prioritize and manage fires." The main chore still to be accom- plished before going fully operational, Triplett said, is completing all the re- quired security controls to protect the data in the system. "We are pretty close to that," he said. In the meantime, Triplett is looking to make other improvements. On the top of the list is connectivity in the field. "Our mobile side only works as well as the connectivity," Triplett said. "When we fight wildland fires, [connec- tivity] is a major issue for us. We've had some firefighters come up with some pretty ingenious ways to distribute wire- less networks or wave relay systems out to the hinterland." And when real-time access is an issue, firefighters can download maps to their mobile devices before they head into the field. Triplett's team is also working to add new data and functionality. "Right now, we're working with partners at the Bu- reau of Land Management to build in an authenticated system so we can view comprehensive and real-time lightning data," said Triplett. Finally, said Triplett, "We're really focusing on integrating with mobile de- vices and making our approach to data management more streamlined so per- formance is better on mobile devices." ENERGY'S COST SCREENING MAP At the Department of Energy, research- ers have combined big data and GIS to create an interactive application that federal facility managers and private- sector managers alike can use to deter- mine where renewable energy projects will be cost-effective. The FEMP Screening Map, developed by the Federal Energy Management Program and the geospatial staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was released in beta on Oct. 2. The map allows users to examine the viability of three solar technologies by comparing the amount of available sunlight in a given location, the efficiency of the solar technologies, the cost of other available energy sources and the impact of any incentives for employing renewable en- ergy sources. According to Andy Walker, principal engineer at NREL, the map is based on NREL's geospatial map capabilities to- gether with data collected by NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmen- tal Satellite (GOES) imagery program. "I was impressed by the resource maps that NREL had published," he said. And when Walker discovered that an- other researcher -- Richard Perez at the State University of New York -- had de- veloped an algorithm to calculate how much sunlight a given location receives based on the amount of light reflected back to the satellite, Walker realized its potential as an analytics tool.In addition to NREL and NOAA data, Walker and his colleagues collected data sets from a va- riety of other sources, including a map of utility rates in the United States and fuel escalation rates supplied by the Office of 22 GCN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 • GCN.COM