Avenza Systems’ PDF Maps for the iPhone and iPad platform recently was deployed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team One. The app lets publishers and individual cartographers upload and distribute digital versions of their paper maps and was used by team one to replace up to 20 pages of 11x17 paper maps, bundled together.
The PDF Maps app allows downloading/updating of maps through the Avenza Map Store 24-hours a day as well as downloading custom maps with QR codes, similar to barcodes, which is another benefit to using digital maps, said Ted Florence, the company’s president. It is used for the reading of geospatial PDF documents on mobile devices and is connected to an “iTunes like environment for users on the consumer side to search and purchase maps like purchasing music for their devices,” he said.
Florence said the app has been used by the U.S. Forest Service to produce maps needed for a wildfire event in progress and then deploy those specially produced maps to everyone involved in the effort. In the past, responding firefighters would have been provided map packets that were printed and assembled the night prior and were distributed amongst several hundred personnel the next day. The app reduces the paper and provides the most updated information, he said.
“Especially with large wildfires on the West Coast, resources are brought in from all over the state and during Superstorm Sandy help came all the way from Canada,” he said. “So all the agencies are not familiar with the geography and need to know the areas of concern. This way, daily or more than once a day, the surveyors turn it into maps and deliver them to devices so everyone can see the same information.”
The paper maps were inefficient and time consuming to assemble, said U.S. Forest Service Capt. Chris Brenzel, in a statement. Brenzel said digital mapping solutions improve overall situational awareness. In addition, the Forest Service is using the application to build maps of fuel reduction projects and community defense zones to help define the boundaries and aid in the work.
“Often times, the natural disasters we come across span over thousands of acres — and they move quickly,” Brenzel said. “When these fires move rapidly and cover so much ground, our firefighters must stay fully aware of the current status — this was getting difficult to achieve with paper maps due to the lack of ability to update them.”
The app starts from $2 per user and up, depending on applications. It can be purchased at the iTunes store for Apple devices only. However, the company is working on the Android version, expected to be released in early 2013.
Sidebar: Avenza PDF Maps app features
- Search for places and points of interest on any map using the Google database
- Export, import and share waypoints and associated attribute data, including photos
- Measure distances and areas and estimates walking times
- Download and carry multiple maps on one device similar to music and books
- Import KML waypoints (including images and custom pins) exported from PDF Maps or other software, such as Google Earth or Avenza MAPublisher