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Phase 1: Basic Chase Management and Display Functionality

The first phase of the project is to design and implement a solution for chase management and display. The administrative side should include the ability to sort media collected on the chase (photos/video), track GPS Logs, record equipment information, and manage finances. The public display side should give internet users the ability to easily browse through material related to the chases associated with this group.

Phase 1 Diagram

This first phase of the system will use a standard multi-tier architecture that utilizes PHP and MySQL for server-side processing and information storage. The client will recieve XHTML 1.0 Transitional files with embedded/external Javascript and CSS code. The displays are being designed with standards-compliance in mind. Additionally, the heavy use of Model-View-Controller architecture will allow users to completely change the look of thier own site just by modifying the CSS stylesheet.

Phase 2: Remotely Hosted Repository

Phase two introduces the most exciting aspect of this system. Since we plan to make the chase manager system a open-source package with anyone able to download and install it for free, we would have the ability to be collecting standardized data sets from chasers from all sections of the country. This would allow real-time preparation of geo-datasets for display in applications such as GoogleEarth.

Phase 2 Diagram

The applications of a standard repository of storm spotter and chaser reports and datasets are virtually limitless. Local emergency managers and 911 communications centers can get a better idea of affected areas if chasers were reporting a long lived tornado as well as uploading thier GPS position, and photos of the ongoing event. Post-event, chasers and spotters without continuous communications can submit reports, photos, and video enabling longer-term disaster response organizations such as the American Red Cross and FEMA.

In addition to the portal, a public SOAP web service would be developed and made available. This would enable development of remote web applications that utilize and expand upon the data and products available in the master repository. Such a service should spawn a parallel effort by interested agencies and users to develop meaningful products that utilize the chaser community.

Phase 3: Advanced Data Interrogation and Report Preparation

Phase three would build upon the communication framework and data model set in place from the implementation of the phase 2 goals. With a complete data repository and reporting system already built, we would seek to utilize the information provided after a significant event in preparing detailed reports that correlate many different vantage points. For instance, if somewhere between 6 and 20 spotters/chasers were on a single storm, and were able to take photographs with relatively accurate GPS coordinates, and added thier approximate viewing angles, tornadoes can be tracked through photogrammetric techniques. Though obvious data quality issues would have to be addressed, the result would be a fairly detailed map of a track well before an NWS damage survey is ever performed.

Such derived information can be used in helping NWS verifications, planning damage surveys, providing faster ability to asses damage for utility companies and local emergency response, and general archiving of the event and what impact chasers/spotters had on the ensuing emergency response. There are obvious gains for many of the end-users as well as for the storm chasing community.

Greensburg Future Fund