Australia: Mapping technology used in disaster management after Hurricane Sandy and the Japanese tsunami will now be used to find lost hikers in Australia. Esri has supported an international team of search and rescue (SAR) volunteers to develop a tool called ‘MapSAR, which helps in finding lost hikers.
According to police records, about 130 hikers go missing each year in New South Sales alone, with similar numbers in other Australian states. Lack of sophisticated software and training poses a major hurdle for volunteers involved in search and rescue operations. MapSAR helps in easily generating maps to show specific details of the operation and show what is happening on the ground over time. Anybody using MapSAR can generate, store and print assignment maps layered with specific information like vegetation types, tracks, paths, water sources and helicopter landing zones. Volunteers can instantly send maps to show where a person was last seen, or GPS tracks showing the movements of search teams to experts anywhere in the world who can assist in analysing how far the hiker may have walked or which direction they are most likely heading. Smart devices could be used to update these maps in real-time.