EMMA’s storm info enlightens

Cayman Land Info has a new way to help the Cayman Islands deal with storms and hurricanes.

The Emergency Mapping Management and Analysis software is a new tool that will be able to provide easy access to hazard impact, risk and vulnerability analysis for disaster managers and other key decision makers in Cayman.

Developed by Ryan Pream and James Hemphill of Lands and Survey, the programme is an easy to use mapping system that requires minimal training.

Essentially, the software allows users to see the impact, down to street level, which any particular storm might have on any of the three Cayman Islands.

‘The software lets you pick from a whole range of scenarios which portray the effects that storm surge, wind and flooding would have in any given storm,’ said Mr. Hemphill, a Geographic Information Systems programmer and analyst at Lands & Survey.

Presented with a blank map of the Cayman Islands, EMMA users can then use a simple menu to choose to view either the impacts of real storms that have hit the Cayman Islands in the past, hypothetical or ‘scenario’ storms, or a real-time feed of information on a storm that’s actually happening.

The historic storms the software shows include Emily (2005) Ivan (2004) Gilbert (1988), Allen (1980) and Hattie (1961). An easy to understand colour scale shows the extent of the storms’ flooding impacts.

The scenario storms can be selected from five points ranging west to east along the three Cayman Islands, with four different storm directions to choose from. In addition, the user can select wind speeds, which then are combined to paint a hypothetical picture of flooding scenarios.

Mr. Hemphill noted that because the direction of a real-time storm can vary widely as it approaches Cayman, it’s helpful for disaster managers to be able to switch between views of the scenario storms and what is really happening so that as many eventualities as possible can be assessed.

Users can zoom into specific districts and neighbourhoods, as the storm data is overlaid on the latest street and building maps of Cayman. With a click of a button, the latest live storm update can be overlaid on that area.

There is even a way for users to highlight all the key buildings and services in a particular neighbourhood.

If an incident arises during a storm, a ‘ruler’ allows users to quickly measure distances, to determine for example which emergency response team is the closest, and which team will have the least difficulty getting there.

At present, the details of how the software will be deployed are still being worked out. What’s certain, however, is that its usefulness is likely to apply to a great many sectors within the Cayman Islands Government and beyond.