The Logistics Cluster GIS (geographic information systems) team provides logistical decision-making support tools to the humanitarian community during emergency operations through the acquisition, compilation and dissemination of timely and accurate geographic information on the status of logistical assets and infrastructure.
The activities of the GIS team focus on 4 areas:
- Logistics emergency preparedness and tools development
- Field operational support
- Trainings and partnerships
- Dissemination of geospatial information to the humanitarian community
Logistics emergency preparedness and tools development
Logistics emergency preparedness depends on up-to-date data collected from various sources, with information from the field being the most important and valuable. Therefore the GIS team continuously compiles and integrates new geographic data relevant to logistics infrastructure - such as aerodromes, ports, bridges, railways, and obstacles - in the countries of concern identified by the humanitarian community into the WFP SDI-T (Spatial Data Infrastructure for Transport) database.
The GIS team in Rome also develops operational systems and tools to assist humanitarian organizations to optimize their preparedness and emergency response. The SDI-T Geoportal is one such tool: a WFP web-based platform that allows users with Internet access anywhere in the world to visualize and download transport data from the SDI-T database. In addition, all GIS field staff can now update the database directly through the Geoportal, thus improving the workflow of collecting, updating, and sharing the latest relevant logistics data.
Field operational support
Besides preparing for future emergencies, the GIS team aims to respond immediately to meet maps and data requirements in the event of an emergency. During operations, the Logistics Cluster GIS staff, either from the field or from the headquarters, produces printed copies of all relevant maps. The main map products depict:
- Concept of operations
- Logistics corridors and warehouses assets
- Road conditions (with bridges and obstacles)
- Sea operations
- UNHAS helicopter deliveries
- Supply routes, warehouses and transport assets
- Aerial survey: roads and bridges
Geographical information reporting by logistics staff is currently being made more widespread through the use of the Geoportal. Information on logistics infrastructure and its status can now be shared, displayed and updated in a much more efficient way and in real time. All GIS field staff can now update the database directly through the Geoportal, thus improving the workflow of collecting, updating, and sharing the latest relevant logistics data.
Moreover, initially created as a response to some specific field needs, an easy-to-use map export tool now allows all Geoportal users to create and print maps of areas of interest showing chosen logistics information at any time.
Trainings and partnerships
As part of its normative guidance role, the Logistics Cluster GIS team is active in the organisation of capacity building and training programmes. In order to improve the quality of SDI-T data, the GIS team demonstrates how to do GPS tracking, how to use the Geoportal, and how to perform standardised data collection to logistics officers and non-GIS staff at stand-by partners induction training, Logistics Response Team training and other trainings at the headquarters and regional levels.
When GIS capacity exists, the GIS team carries out similar sessions for the wider humanitarian community in the field. This ensures that the Logistics Cluster can hand over its work to suitable partners when withdrawing from a country at the end of an operation.
Dissemination of geo-spatial information
In the field, sharing of geo-spatial information and distribution of hard copies of maps are done directly through Logistics Cluster meetings organised on a daily or weekly basis depending upon the level of the emergency.
All geo-spatial products from the GIS team, such as maps, SHP and KML files, are published on crisis-specific map catalogue pages on the Logistics Cluster website, on WFP's map centre, and on Reliefweb.
SDI-T public data can be exported at the country level directly from the Geoportal. Provided KML and KMZ can be viewed freely through Google Earth without any specific GIS software while shapefiles are also available for GIS specialists.