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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bridge Reroute Application Helps Minneapolis Cope with Disaster - Government Technology: During Minneapolis' evening rush hour on Wednesday August 1, a bridge spanning the Mississippi River crashed into the water, taking 13 lives with it. Miraculously, a school bus stopped just short of plunging over the edge and the children on board suffered only cuts and bruises. But Interstate I 35-W, the city's main artery, had been severed, and rescue operations closed many major streets. City managers needed an immediate solution to the problem of getting people to work and keeping businesses open. "When the I-35W bridge collapsed," said Minneapolis' Chief Information Officer Lynn Willenbring, "in addition to needing to support all the emergency responders and doing the rescue and recovery efforts, it was critical that we get information out to everybody who lives or works in Minneapolis. People needed to know how to get around and circumnavigate this major artery that was no longer available for getting in and out of the city. So, we contacted ESRI, to talk about putting up a Web application where citizens could easily see what routes were open and quickly create personalized from/to routes that could direct them from their home addresses to specified destinations within the greater Twin Cities area. "The solution we wanted needed to incorporate attributes that were not available in the widely available public options such as MapQuest or Yahoo Maps or Google Maps," said Willenbring. "This is because the solution needed to include specific up-to-date city information about what streets were recently closed to traffic, what streets were primary detour routes, and what streets were going to have expedited traffic flow. The application needed to incorporate all of that data into a knowledgeable routing system for citizens to use." Using the ArcWeb Services Flex API, ESRI senior software architect, Mansour Raad, quickly put together a two-tiered Web application that consists of a public-facing Web page, and an administrative Web page. The administrative Web page allows the city administrators to define barrier locations. These barriers changed from day-to-day because of disaster command-post needs. These continue to change in response to cleanup efforts. For example, a street that is closed in the morning may be reopened in the afternoon and another street closed, so a commuter's route to work could be very different than the return route. The city posts this dynamic data immediately on its Web site. "It's very easy to make the changes," Willenbring noted. "That's one of the reasons that we like the ESRI products. We are a complete ESRI shop ... including our computer dispatch system for emergency responders is fully integrated ESRI." more...

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