The Safe Citizens, Safe Business application presents an interactive map of historical hazardous material spills reported by IEMA between 1987 and 2011. Each incident is a point which can be clicked for more information about the material, amount, etc.
How did you us the data set(s) in your Submission?
In the original source data, reports are detailed in tabular format. This data is valuable enough to warrant cleanup and mapping, in order to provide them in another way that is more easily understood and used by everyone in the community.
What problem/challenge is your Submission helping to solve, and how?
EMAs go to great lengths to prepare for a variety of incidents, and good information is critical for effective preparation. After speaking with coordinators of St. Clair County EMA, we felt that there was a need for better information distribution to various parties regarding hazardous materials in the area. IEMA publishes this data in a format that is not easily used by most people. An interactive map of historical spills will spread awareness of incidents and help improve future response.
What community members will your Submission help serve, and how will they be impacted?
We are providing an application that leads to better understanding of where spills happen and how they should be handled. Broad impacts include improved public health by helping public safety professionals with better access to information allowing mitigation of spill impact and reduction of mishandled reporting, better response planning for residents and businesses, and lower cost to teams and agencies responsible for educating and responding to the public regarding hazardous material incidents.
Emergency management agencies see value for the application as a tool for communication and outreach, providing an intuitive view into where, when and what has happened in the region. When coordinating with local response teams like fire departments and police, this visualization of data helps EMA focus the discussion around where severe spills have occurred in the past, provide insight into trends and improve routing and planning for future hazardous material transport.
Citizens and community members benefit from increased awareness as well, as they can easily understand where in their area incidents have happened recently. This fosters an appreciation of the importance of careful handling of common materials like gasoline and fertilizers, and creates a way for new information to be rapidly disseminated to the public in an easily digestible way.
How do you envision city and/or state government utilizing your Submission to make a positive impact on the Pilot Community of State of Illinois?
Emergency management agencies report that some citizens are unaware that common incidents like fuel tank ruptures or herbicide spills can have detrimental effects on the environment (including groundwater and drainage systems) if not quickly reported and appropriately handled. EMAs look for ways to improve the means by which the community can understand what sorts of events are considered hazardous material spills that need to be reported and the frequency with which these can happen. Increased awareness of these events and knowledge of the proper response will result in fewer mishandled or unreported incidents and increased environmental safety. Over time, this will lead to improved public health, better preparedness and lower costs to individuals and businesses in the community.
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