The importance of location data in supporting local resilience training

Ordnance Survey provides mapping for wildfire response scenario

5 minute read
Being able to respond effectively and efficiently to an emergency, whether flooding or wildfire, is vitally important to the protection of life, strategic infrastructure, and areas of environmental significance. Key to this response is the training delivered by Local Resilience Forums (LRF), which allows agencies to learn and test processes and procedures in a controlled environment. These training events are also an opportunity for agencies to communicate openly with one another and discuss resources which might be of use in an emergency, allowing for greater coordination cross-agency.
Extract of one of the scenario maps produced by Ordnance Survey to support HIOWLRF training

With a warming climate and the prediction of more frequent and severe drought events, wildfires are likely to become a more frequent occurrence and have the potential to cause significant damage as well as pose a threat to life. This was the focus of a recent training event delivered by Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF (HIOWLRF) as part of its training for Tactical and Strategic Coordinating Groups (TCGs and SCGs).

Ordnance Survey (OS) support was requested by HIOWLRF to prepare a set of maps to support the wildfire scenario. In addition to the training being a forum to learn how TCGs and SCGs operate, it was also an opportunity to showcase the importance of geospatial data in decision-making and to ensure that all participating agencies were aware of the type of mapping products and geospatial data available to them should they require it.

The maps created used real geospatial data from OS but with place names changed and some data adjusted such that the training was place agnostic; allowing the training to be delivered to anyone, without the use of local knowledge. This meant that participants really focused on the scenario and the data presented to them as part of that scenario.

Delivering the maps as layered pdf files meant that data layers, such as hospitals, pharmacies, care homes, rest centre locations, river networks and fire stations could be turned on/off dependant on the needs of the individual agency. This mimicked the functionality of a Geographic Information System and also the type of geospatial data and support that could be provided by OS during an emergency.

"Ordnance Survey could not have been more helpful in delivering a map of a fictionalised Oakshire LRF; we had decided on an entirely created area to allow all partners on the training to come in with the same level of knowledge and not be disadvantaged by feeling they had less local knowledge. However, in order to make it realistic it had to be at the scale of a significant population (about a million). Ordnance Survey helped us with scenario development we had never considered, like a pdf that toggles on and off pharmacies, fire stations and other local infrastructure. Our only other choice would have been Google Maps and MS Paint, which would have meant partners couldn't really engage with the scenario! Maps continue to promote the understanding in our LRF – that everything happens somewhere."

Jazmine Chew, HIOWLRF Deputy Manager

Hannah Wright, a Technical Relationship Consultant in the OS Consultancy and Technical Services team, attended the first TCG training session a few weeks ago to see the maps in action.

She said: “It was amazing to see the maps in action. They were shared on large screens throughout the training room and were used by all members of the TCG throughout the scenario to help inform decision making. The maps clearly showed where the wildfires were and what was in the immediate vicinity that was at risk of going up in flames should the fire spread. The maps enabled agencies to make decisions about resource allocation, where evacuations might be required, where rest centres might be positioned and potential health and environmental impacts. It really showed the power of geospatial intelligence in facilitating fast and effective decision making.”

OS maps being shown during TCG training

HIOWLRF Training and Exercise Lead Lydia Vagg said:

“Working with Ordnance Survey in the development of the maps to aid our local tactical and strategic training has been really positive. Hannah brought her skills and knowledge and created a product that, as we’ve seen in the first training sessions, really helps brings the scenario alive and allows partners to think about risks and their decisions using spatial dimensions they wouldn’t otherwise. We’ve had the Chairs referring to and pointing to the maps when describing the risks and making decisions, which is what we want to see, and we will continue working with OS in future training.”

Overall, the training session, which is due to be delivered multiple times throughout the year, was a great event and really highlighted the amazing work the LRFs do to protect lives during an emergency and showcased how vital geospatial data is in delivering that effective, time-critical response.

OS is on call 365 24/7 for Mapping for Emergencies, available under the Public Sector Geospatial Agreement.

Using geospatial data and services to support a resilient Britain

Police, Fire and Ambulance, or ‘Blue-lights services,’ are the key members to our resilience community and through the Public Sector Geospatial Contract (PSGA) they use a range of OS data to help keep our communities safe.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey

Our highly accurate geospatial data and printed maps help individuals, governments and companies to understand the world, both in Britain and overseas.