Safe Software to Present at URISA 2007 on Integrating GIS Data for More Effective Disaster Response

Vancouver, BC- August 14, 2007 - When a hurricane, a tsunami, or other disaster occurs, one of the first and most critical challenges facing effective disaster response is rapid access to accurate spatial data. Safe Software, makers of the FME® spatial ETL (extract, transform, and load) platform, will discuss solutions to this challenge during a presentation at URISA's 2007 Annual Conference, to be held in Washington, DC, August 20-23. Safe will also be exhibiting at booth number 317 from August 21-22.

"In the chaotic aftermath of a disaster, a GIS disaster response team must quickly integrate location-based data provided by multiple agencies, and make the results available to other teams and organizations," said Dean Hintz, senior consultant and presenter from Safe Software. "The challenge facing responding organizations is that most of this data is not immediately usable with their GIS tools. The data may be in a variety of different map scales and coordinate systems, and it often spans a wide range of data structures, formats and standards - from vector to raster, from spatial to attribute only or text, and from open standards such as GML, WFS and WMS, to de-facto and proprietary standards."

For example, during the response phase of a disaster, a GIS team may need to plan an effective strategy using basemap data in ESRI Shapefiles, engineering data in MicroStation, topological data in GML, and flood extent data in WFS. In order for a GIS system to use these diverse data sources, the data first needs to be translated into a common format or data structure. This can waste critical time if the team is hand coding the required data transformations, or relying on tools that deal with only a limited number of formats. Safe Software's presentation will use a hypothetical disaster response scenario to show how spatial ETL tools provide important advantages over other approaches by rapidly integrating diverse source data into a common model. In addition, the presentation will demonstrate how this technology plays an important role in distributing data to response teams.

"Spatial ETL tools can dramatically reduce response time in a disaster management scenario," says Drew Rifkin, Safe Software account manager and co-presenter with Hintz. "These tools enable GIS teams to quickly integrate multiple data types, while preserving the meaning of the information during transformation of the data to a common model. What's more, they can directly read from and write to multiple data stores, regardless of data structure or format. This significantly streamlines both receiving and distributing critical information, and ultimately helps disaster response teams save more lives."

Safe Software will present on August 22 at 10:30 am in the Monroe West room at the Hilton Washington. To learn more about spatial ETL, visit A free 14-day trial of FME, Safe Software's spatial ETL platform, is available at


About Safe Software and FME
Established in 1993, Safe Software is the maker of FME, the only true spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) platform that enables organizations to use and leverage spatial data in any format or application. Today, FME is used by thousands of customers in over 116 countries in a wide variety of industries.

FME provides the most extensive format support and powerful transformations to help organizations efficiently address the complete spectrum of spatial ETL tasks – from data translation to integration to distribution. Used by most GIS, CAD, ETL, and DB vendors, FME has emerged as the de facto integrated spatial ETL solution. FME is available in desktop and server solutions, and is also easily integrated into third-party CAD and GIS solutions, as well as most IT environments. Visit for more information.

For More Information:
Jaylene Crick
Director of Marketing
Safe Software Inc.
(604) 501-9985 ex 224
Email Contact

FME is a registered trademark of Safe Software Inc. MicroStation is a registered trademark of Bentley Systems, Incorporated or Bentley Software, Inc. ESRI is a registered trademark of ESRI in the United States, the European Community, or certain other jurisdictions. All other product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Michael Cerkas'
    This article did an outstanding job of emphasizing the importance of data as it relates to the effective use of GIS. On the surface, what is obvious and visible is the presentation, delivery and the graphic nature of GIS. What is essential to know and be aware about, however, is the underlying data that supports the GIS and applications; and the fact that a large percentage of the data comes from many different sources and is not homogenous in format. That one fact, by itself, presents a huge challenge in effectively combining data from multiple sources, in a timely manner. The secondary challenge is ensuring that the data are logically and correctly associated with each other. Data translation and (ETL) processes certainly are not the most flashy aspects of GIS, however, they essentially provide the solid infrastructure that enables the flashy applications and uses to exist.

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