San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Immersive Visualization Center (Viz Center) focuses on geographic information systems research for homeland security and disaster relief. The center is essentially a rapid prototyping project focused on sharing of information and collaborative visualizations addressing first responder and security needs globally. It was instrumental in developing new techniques for attaining, processing and distributing high-resolution imagery in support of relief efforts after the 2004 tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia and during and after Hurricane Katrina.
Rapid decision making is supported as the gateway consolidates available data from numerous sensor and camera networks in the field, making it available for analysis and sharing via the Internet. Data can be quickly fed to local emergency service crews for evacuation and allocation/re-allocation of resources, thereby increasing situational awareness, early threat detection, and quick response. The team at the SDSU Visualization Lab demonstrated that reliable visual communication could dramatically improve operational team integration and response time for first responders.