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Mapping experts win award for leadership in crisis

A grassroots community of mapmakers that created an interactive map viewed by over 800,000 people during the Pigeon Valley Fire earlier this year has been honoured for its vision and expertise in the spatial industry.

The New Zealand Geographic Information Systems for Emergency Management (NZGIS4EM) Committee took out the Supreme Award at the New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards (NZSEA) in Wellington last night.

The Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, presented the Supreme Award to the group which formed just 18 months ago.

“The Committee’s contribution during the Pigeon Valley Fire was reported to be a game changer, with maps playing a crucial part in decision-making,” said Catherine O’Shaughnessy, head of the NZSEA judging panel.

Ms O’Shaughnessy said the potential benefits of co-ordinating geospatial information during emergencies had rarely been considered before the group started and was among achievements that impressed NZSEA judges.

Deputy Chair of the NZGIS4EM Committee, Kate Waterhouse, said the group is delighted with the win:

“There is a huge demand from decision-makers and the public during emergency events for accurate, easily accessible maps, and other geospatial tools. Our vision is to provide that expertise and the tools to assist,” said Ms Waterhouse.

The NZGIS4EM Committee of 13 volunteers is supported by a rapidly growing membership with 450 geospatial practitioners throughout the country ready to offer their advice and support when disaster strikes.

Members are now leading consultation on a draft emergency management symbology set – a group of visual symbols customised to New Zealand that indicate features such as an improvised helicopter pad, tsunami, water point, or ambulance station.

The use of standardised symbols on products such as maps significantly enhances the presentation and uptake of information during a crisis.

Each year the NZSEA brings together the latest technologies and research demonstrating innovations in areas as diverse as conservation and traffic management. Last night 13 award winners were recognised across a wide range of categories.

The Awards are a joint initiative between Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), Survey and Spatial New Zealand (S+S NZ), and the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA NZ).

This year’s awards were generously supported by commercial partners: NationalMap as diamond partner; Trimble as Silver partner; and Hexagon as bronze partner.

See the full list of winners

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