US Army Corps of Engineers
Engineer Research and Development Center

Geospatial Capabilities for Security, Humanitarian Assistance, Partner Engagement (GeoSHAPE)

Enabling geospatial information sharing and collaboration with mission partners

Published April 14, 2016
Emergency operations center personnel learn to use the GeoSHAPE mobile application.

Emergency operations center personnel learn to use the GeoSHAPE mobile application.

The GeoSHAPE website enables sharing of critical geospatial information with mission partners. This capability improves the common understanding, awareness, and responsiveness of government and non-government organizations and reduces the adverse effects of a disaster or crisis.

The GeoSHAPE website enables sharing of critical geospatial information with mission partners. This capability improves the common understanding, awareness, and responsiveness of government and non-government organizations and reduces the adverse effects of a disaster or crisis.

GeoSHAPE is designed to enable collaboration of geospatial information between mission partners in connected and disconnected environments. GeoSHAPE utilizes open source software and open standards, making it readily available for partners while maximizing interoperability. GeoSHAPE is the integration of a geospatial portal (GeoNode), a web mapping client (MapLoom), and a mobile application (Arbiter), that leverages the infrastructure provided by the OpenGeo suite geospatial server and database components. GeoSHAPE is the result of the Rapid Open Geospatial User-Driven Enterprise (ROGUE) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD), which concluded in September 2014. The Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL) was the Technical Manager of the JCTD.

Problem

Humanitarian Assistance (HA), Disaster Relief (DR), and stability missions conducted by U.S. forces and international partners require effective coordination between government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Some of the challenges identified coordinating these types of missions include development and sharing of geospatial data and information, and the availability of actionable products. Given this reality, the requirement to develop and field improved capabilities for HA/DR response efforts is critical.

GeoSHAPE can be used by anyone with a need to create, share, and visualize geospatial data. Past events, such as the Haiti earthquake in 2010, demonstrate the need for fast and accurate geospatial information in order to deliver supplies and provide assistance to the right place at the right time. GeoSHAPE is particularly well suited to support first responders and disaster relief organizations (military and civilian) with the management of crises and emergency/disaster response. By improving the common understanding, awareness, and responsiveness of government and non-governmental organizations, GeoSHAPE helps reduce the adverse effects of a disaster or crisis.

Technology

With GeoSHAPE, organizations can:

  • Create, edit, and share critical data within an integrated, dynamic map in near real-time
  • View map updates from anywhere in the world
  • Capture data and photos in the field (using the mobile application) and upload them to the map
  • Conduct operations in connected and disconnected environments 
  • Increase situational awareness in dynamic operations by receiving notifications about changes in the map

Benefits

GeoSHAPE enables sharing of critical geospatial information with mission partners. This capability improves the common understanding, awareness, and responsiveness of government and non-government organizations and reduces the adverse effects of a disaster or crisis.

GeoSHAPE has no licensing costs, given that it is open source technology. An information technology (IT) team can easily set up a GeoSHAPE instance for use within the organization.

Success Stories

Several news articles have been written that document the success of GeoSHAPE. Links to these articles are available on the GeoSHAPE website. A few highlights include the following:

  • GeoSHAPE transitioned into an operational disaster monitoring and early warning system (DisasterAWARE) used by the Pacific Disaster Center to support HA/DR requirements of the Department of Defense (DoD) and partner nations. With DisasterAWARE, thousands of users within DoD and the U.S. government — as well as in national disaster management offices, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations agencies around the world — were able to share information.
  • By incorporating GeoSHAPE into the DisasterAWARE platform, the Pacific Disaster Center reduced deployment and software maintenance costs.
  • GeoSHAPE was adopted by the Civil Defense and National Emergency Commission in the Dominican Republic and by the Permanent Contingency Commission in Honduras.
  • A customized version of GeoSHAPE was developed for the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

Specifications/System Requirements

All of the components used for GeoSHAPE are open source and available at no cost on the internet. To facilitate the process of acquiring the capabilities, a GeoSHAPE instance can be installed as a virtual machine. In order to stand up a GeoSHAPE instance, a computer is required to have an operating system (OS) that can run all necessary components. A Virtual Machine can be installed on a system that is running an OS of the user’s choice; examples are Windows, OSX, or Ubuntu Server. GeoSHAPE and all associated scripts are regularly tested on Ubuntu Server 14.04 Long Term Support; therefore, using this OS is highly recommended. A virtual machine is also recommended: it provides a practical way to back-up the GeoSHAPE instance and provides recovery from any unintentional changes made to the system.

The recommended minimum requirements are:

  • 10GB RAM for the Ubuntu Server virtual machine (note: 60% of the memory of the Ubuntu Server should be assigned to Tomcat’s Java);
  • Dual Core 2 GHz CPU; and
  • 500 GB storage drive.

These are only the minimum recommended specifications. Using 16GB or 32GB of RAM is preferred. Additional CPU cores and faster cores are also preferable. If a virtual machine is used, it is better if the OS on the actual computer has memory to spare. For example, in the specifications listed earlier, even though the Ubuntu Server virtual machine would typically work well with 10GB RAM, the host operating system could utilize another 6GB RAM, and therefore the physical computer would need a total of 16GB of RAM.

Status

GeoSHAPE can be downloaded by visiting the GeoSHAPE website, http://geoshape.org/, which also provides links to articles, presentations, and information regarding each of the GeoSHAPE components. Introductory and training videos for the GeoSHAPE web and mobile applications can be found on the GeoSHAPE YouTube channel.

In August 2015, GeoSHAPE version 1.5 was released and will support Ubuntu 14.04.