Most people are familiar with the Global Positioning System (GPS) being a technology that has become increasingly prevalent in day-to-day life. Geographic Information System (GIS) however is less well-known, but without GIS, GPS could not possibly be used to its full potential. GPS is a satellite-based navigation system, and GIS is a software program designed to store and manipulate the data that GPS accumulates. Each of these system has its own unique capabilities, but when paired together, they create an invaluable resource for a variety of disciplines including Disaster Risk Management.
A GPS operates in any weather, anywhere and at all times and while it functions to simply give the location of the receiver, the level of precision of GPS makes it an integral part of Disaster Risk Management. In this context, a short training was conducted on Friday 16th June at the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM). The purpose of the training was to introduce staffs to the basics of using a GPS to capture coordinates and using a GPS to map spatial coordinates in GIS. The participants were firstly briefed on the basic steps of checking that their GPS units were set-up correctly such as type of batteries, ensuring that the GPS units are configured to the right coordinate system, the functions of each button on the GPS unit and also how to navigate their way around the unit so as to understand how the unit worked. The participants were also instructed on the best way to capture and record GPS coordinates on sites, as well as instructions on how to load and display spatial data in QGIS. This training is relevant in line with a project that DRDM is currently implementing to update its existing GIS database which will record information about all incidents and site visits conducted across the country. The information recorded in the database will then later be used to create maps and also for statistical purposes. Following this first training, a practical field exercise will be organized so that participants will now get hands-on experience with using a GPS.