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Americas Regional Working Group of GDIN

Original Coordinator(s):

Goal and History:

The body considered ways of developing Regional Disaster Information Networks and disaster databases of use to the Americas, as well as useful databases to allow easy, reliable contacts with disaster managers in the region. In addition, it considered ideas for simulations and pilot projects of interest to the region, proposes meetings of the GDIN community in the region and who should be invited to GDIN2002 in Rome. History of Meetings
  • October 2, 2001 White House Conference, hosted by the President's Special Adviser on the Americas. The meeting focused on the financial and social implications of disasters, as well as a State Department briefing on GDIN as a new tool to facilitate better mitigation and response in the Americas and other Regions. It was agreed that a follow-on meeting would be held in Washington prior to the next GDIN Conference (March, 2001 in Australia) upon completion of the Summit of the Americas effort. The Feb 21 workshop was to be an organizational session of the Americas Regional Working Group.
  • February 20, 2001 (at 09:00 Washington DC time. (14:00-15:00 UTC)): The US Department of State conducted a live closed circuit broadcast to all US diplomatic posts in the Americas. Each post invited local disaster experts to attend, though for technical reasons, only five could interact with the Washington based studio session, chaired by Larry Roeder, Executive Director, and Mario Aguilar of the Embassy of Mexico. The largest audiences were in Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Canada. The broadcast was also conducted mainly in English with simultaneous translation in Spanish and Portuguese. The session raised the notion of the Working Group, with its basic goals.
  • February 21, 2001: The Mexican Cultural Center in Washington played host to an all-day session of the Working Group, attended by experts flown in from Latin America and by experts resident in different parts of the United States. In addition to agreeing to the basic goals of the Working Group, there was a call to meet again during the summer and to consider the development of a simulation that could test ways of more effectively sharing disaster information in the region.
Issues Raised at the February 21 Meeting at the Mexican Cultural Center
  1. A briefing on GDIN, how its proposed services might be of value to the Americas, and how it is related to other international disaster programs. As background, prospective participants were asked to look at and download the following two images:
  2. The need to propose regional experts who can develop papers on technical and other hurdles to disaster information sharing and areas for possible future pilot projects; also begin to create Working Group membership list.
  3. Discussion of a possible GDIN pilot project;
  4. Discuss how to inventory useful existing regional and national programs that GDIN should partner with and discuss what has already worked and failed;
  5. Discuss similar GDIN regional efforts in Europe and the Pacific;
  6. Begin a blueprint of how GDIN might operate in the Americas, taking into account suggestions for specific services of particular value to the region. This item also involves developing additional goals for the Working Group.
  7. Propose venues and times for follow-on meetings, and begin to identify individuals, governments or organizations who might take lead roles; choose coordinators for the effort. These coordinators do not have to be based in Washington.
  8. Hear a briefing from the Embassy of Australia on the GDIN2001 international conference to be held in Canberra, Australia, March 21-23, 2001.
Participants and How to Participate:
  • Participation is Easy
    1. Use the Internet instead of Travel: Simply go to and post messages and send messages directly to other members. You also have access to GDIN chat rooms for free chat. In addition, you can post reports on the home page of the Working Group by sending an email to the web master Chris Gianuario.
    2. Attend Working Group Meetings: The Working Group is encouraged to hold physical meetings from time to time in different countries of the region.
    3. Attend GDIN2002 in Rome: All members are encouraged to attend the GDIN2002 Conference in Rome, June, 2002 and hosted by the Instituto Superiore di Sanita, government of Italy. (see home page)
  • List of Current Members (16K pdf) If you have not joined, please join.
Goals for GDIN 2002:
  • Post results of organizational sessions on prior to GDIN2002, hold meetings, develop a programand present a report at GDIN2002 in Italy.
    Some key issues
    We need experts who are willing to participate. Give us your name, title, organization, email, phone and fax and recommend other.
    1. Recommend co-chairpersons.
    2. Tell us where you see weaknesses in the current system of disaster information, and how you would use GDIN to improve your life.
    3. Make proposals for simulation.
    4. Let us know of specific instances when not having information lost lives, or where remotely sensed information made a difference.
    5. What systems do you now use to share disaster information? Do you even use remotely sensed data?
    6. Give us specific instances of where information sharing systems did not work, and then tell us why.
    7. Who should we invite to GDIN2002?
  • With regard to a simulation, one idea is being examined for propriety with the working group leadership and should be announced soon.
Reports and Links:
  • Battelle Memorial Institute and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are currently involved in a project to provide automated emergency management capabilities to PEMEX Refinacion in Mexico. The system EMADVANTAGE is a integrates planning, daily operations and response into a single system. EMADVANTAGE combines GIS, models, site specific information to directly support the needs at a specific site. We are just completing the translation of EMADVANTAGE to support the Spanish language. This includes running on Spanish PC's, Spanish operating systems, as well as Spanish databases and interfaces. Attached is a white paper (in English) that describes the capabilities of EMADVANTAGE. Also attached is a PowerPoint slide (in Spanish) that describes the functionality to be used at the Refinery. These slides also show the Spanish interfaces, data, and GIS maps for the Refinery. While Battelle is providing the information technology components it is important to note the working relationships that have already been established with the PEMEX Refinacion, Instituto Mexicano del Petroleo (IMP), Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), and the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geographia e Informatica (INEGI). We recognized that a significant part of bringing technology to focus is to establish effective relationships with the country and people who are directly involved. If or existing relationships and / or expertise in emergency management could also be of service in future GDIN efforts in Latin America we would look forward to being involved - source Wm David Millard