Geographic Information System (GIS) support has become a basic tool for oil spill response because of the inherent data management, analysis, and display capabilities. Presented here are example GIS maps from the 2004 California Spill of National Significance (SONS) exercise. The SONS scenario had two major spill incidents occurring off the coast of southern California requiring a massive response from State, Federal and Local agencies. The exercise locations included Port-level incident command posts (ICP) in San Diego, Los Angeles and Ensenada, Mexico. A regional ICP for the US Coast Guard (USCG) National Incident Command (NIC) was established in Los Alamitos, CA, and USCG National Response Team activities occurred in Washington, DC. The California Department of Fish and Games (CDFG) Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) had GIS equipment and personnel deployed at the three southern California ICP locations. GIS data was electronically transferred between the three ICPs through email attachments to GIS personnel directly, or via internet file transfer protocol (ftp) to a secure internet site. GIS data layers were transmitted in ESRI shapefile format while map files were transmitted in Adobe PDF file format. In addition to the GIS activities at the three ICPs, an internet mapping site (using ArcIms software) was available on-line for the duration of the SONS drill housed on a secure server located in Sacramento, CA. GIS data layer sharing at the individual ICP's was achieved using USB data “sticks”. Oil slick trajectory models run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) Hazmat team were imported into the GIS via the GNOME extension to ArcView. Airborne observation teams were employed to document marine or coastal species that were either in immediate danger or already impacted in real time. The airborne pelagic transects were captured via GPS and waypoints were marked for key observations. These data were transmitted to the ICP via email upon landing. During an oil spill emergency large amounts of data are generated and utilized, much with a geospatial component. The inherent ability to import and display convergent data layers provides the incident Unified Command with a powerful decision making tool.

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