[Geowanking] Gulf Oil Spill Disaster GIS data locked behind BP Corporate Firewall

gis pundit gispundit at gmail.com
Tue Jun 15 11:15:07 PDT 2010

This is very disturbing. If ever there was a need for open geospatial data,
this is it.

I wonder what possessed the Federal & State Agencies to agree to upload
their only copies of the location data their responders are collecting in
the field to a BP-controlled GIS server?

If it wasn't so illegal, I'd say that BP corporate firewall was just begging
for a few good hackers to "fix" this problem  :)

>-------- Original Message --------
>Subject:        FW: Letter on BP Oil Spill GIS Appears, Disappears
>Date:   Tue, 15 Jun 2010 09:17:14 -0400
>TO:     NWCG GIS Task Group
>Andrew Stephens and Devon Humphrey, both Geographic Information Systems
>(GIS) professionals with 40 years combined GIS experience, were the
>primary architects of the GIS Unit and lab at Incident Command Post
>(ICP) Houma. Mr. Stephens has 20 years GIS experience, teaching GIS to
>organizations worldwide, and is an expert in GIS deployment, start-up,
>training and workflow design. Mr. Humphrey has 20 years background in
>Oil Spill GIS with Texas General Land Office, where he was on the
>development team of an award-winning oil spill GIS. He has also been an
>instructor since 1994 at the National Spill Control School at Texas A&M
>University, Corpus Christi. The ‘Spill School’ is named in the Oil
>Pollution Act of 1990.
>Deepwater Horizon GIS Data Concerns
>From: Andrew Stephens and Devon Humphrey
>Date: June 9, 2010
>Subject: BP control of GIS data
>To Whom It May Concern:
>Executive Summary
>This letter is being submitted to make it known that several key factors
>of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command
>Structure (ICS) are not being met in the Unified Command process of the
>BP Deepwater Horizon Incident. Specifically regarding the treatment of
>Geographic Information System (GIS) data, current configuration and
>process limit, or exclude completely, the flow of information about the
>extent and status of the disaster to government entities, emergency
>responders, and the public.
>GIS is essential to the oil spill response effort and to the recovery of
>public resources. Almost every map and geographic display representing
>the Deepwater Horizon Incident is sourced by GIS data. Current GIS
>management processes indicate that BP is treating GIS data as
>proprietary information, and these data are currently being stored
>behind the BP corporate firewall. It is our understanding that public
>agencies, for example, The US Fish and Wildlife Service and The
>Louisiana National Guard, are literally submitting the only copy of
>agency field data, via wireless-enabled mobile GPS devices, directly to
>a BP GIS server behind the corporate firewall in Houston. Examples of
>these data are; dead bird and fish locations with photos, boom
>placement, engineered construction barriers, including dates, and other
>descriptive information and photos.
>State Emergency Operation Center (EOC) staff, Parish EOC staff, and
>other Emergency Responders and Recovery Specialists do not have access
>to these GIS datasets, contrary to all NIMS guidance, protocols and
>Per NIMS, redundancy of incident information is to be managed jointly,
>and fully accessible by the Federal On Scene Coordinator (FOSC), the
>State On Scene Coordinator (SOSC), and the Responsible Party. Technology
>allows implementation of this design to occur instantaneously and
>automatically (see attached diagram). The intent of this letter is to
>inform The President, the National Incident Commander, the FOSC, the
>SOSC, and the public, of the need to establish and enforce NIMS
>compliant access policies over all Deepwater Horizon oil spill GIS data.
>The Geospatial Intelligence Officer (GIO) and the GIS Unit Leader, who
>proposed NIMS-compliant GIS architecture to Unified Command, and
>supported access to these GIS data, have been removed from the Houma ICP
>by BP IT department managers.
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