SAR Technology: 'Incident
Knowledge Base - Tips & Tricks
|Copying 'Incident Commander Pro' GIS Maps to another Computer|
|Creating 'Incident Commander' Reports as Microsoft portable XPS files|
|Display 'CAD Files in Incident Commander Pro'|
|Store your Document & Image files within the 'Incident Commander' Folder|
|Prepare Pre-Planned Missions using 'Operational Period Zero'|
|Expanded 'Help' features for 'Incident Commander' software|
|Backup of 'Incident Commander' data|
|Using Google Earth with 'Incident Commander Pro'||Displaying Google Earth Maps in 'Incident Commander Pro'|
Tip: Rapid Responder Deployments with 'Incident Commander Pro'
Managing the incident requires a fast and effective field response.
Responders expect to be quickly signed-in, promptly briefed and then rapidly deployed. They can become impatient - and then vocal - if they perceive administrative delays that appear to be slowing down their field deployment.
‘Incident Commander Pro’
is widely acknowledged to be a very fast and efficient tool for managing and
deploying responders, with many features specifically designed for this purpose.
In fact over 1,200 convergent volunteers a day have been signed-in,
briefed and rapidly deployed using ‘Incident Commander Pro’.
To make full use of the speed
and efficiency of ‘Incident Commander Pro’ there are number of techniques
that can be used to speed up the ‘traffic flow’ of managing large numbers of
personnel and quickly deploying them to their assignments. The following
procedures have been field-proven over time and found to be very effective at
delivering a fast and efficient deployment of field responders.
It is strongly recommended, whenever possible, to pre-load ‘Incident Commander Pro’ with as much information as is available. Probably the most important single item to enter is the Personnel data, prior to its being used later for personnel check-in. Personnel data can be entered manually but the powerful Import routine will very rapidly import an entire Excel spreadsheet in a matter of seconds. A pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet Import Excel Personnel File is available into which your own personnel data can then be appended, ready for immediate importing.
Once the personnel data has
been entered or imported arriving personnel can then be rapidly checked-in using
the Check-In form, with the personnel data previously entered now being
displayed in the check-In form’s selection list.
An even faster way to Check-In personnel is to use the integrated Barcode System. Barcoded personnel ID cards, or a printed barcode list of personnel, can be instantly scanned into the Check-In form, with virtually no errors. This is the fastest and most accurate procedure for very rapidly checking-in personnel.
Carefully managing the paperwork flow during the busy Check-In and task assignment stage of an incident can significantly improve the speed at which the responders are deployed. The following procedure has been found to create an efficient deployment with the minimum amount of delay.
Print a list of paper sign-in sheets with the personnel names already listed. Blank sign-in sheets can also be printed for spontaneous volunteers or other personnel not already pre-loaded into ‘Incident Commander Pro’.
As personnel arrive they sign
the paper sign-in sheets and then begin preparing for their field assignments.
As the sign-in lists become filled photocopies of the lists are taken to the
computer where the Check-In form is displayed. As each signed name is selected
from software’s Check-In form’s personnel list, that person is both
checked-in on the software and a small checkmark placed beside their name on the
sign-in photocopy. This makes it clear that each person has been fully
checked-in – while the original paper sign-in form is still being used by
other arriving personnel. This procedure ensures that arriving personnel are not
delayed in any way, without queuing or waiting to be checked-in.
Whenever possible task assignments should be created and printed before the responders arrive. This may require a night-shift to enter the assignments, or a very early start by the planning team, with the goal of creating a printed list of task assignments prior to the arrival of the responders. These computer-generated task assignment forms generally include the task assignment information, but do not typically include specific personnel names, radio callsigns or cellphone numbers. It is good practice to print out all these task-only assignment forms prior to the responders arriving.
When the responders arrive
each team leader is briefed on his/her printed task assignment. The team leader
then takes the paper copy of the assignment form, briefs the other team members
and then writes the names, radio call-signs and cell-phone numbers of all the
field-team members onto the paper assignment form. A photocopy of this
hand-completed assignment form is then returned to the computer where this
additional field-team member’s names and contact information are later
entered, usually in the quieter period after the deployments have occurred. In
this way the responders are not delayed, as they do not have to wait for the
assignment’s software data-entry to be fully completed. Communications Log
Historically communications logs have been handwritten, typically alternately between answering the microphone and then writing the dialogue onto the paper communications log. This can be slow and sometimes difficult to read, with the additional risk of making mistakes in manually writing the correct call-signs and their true time-stamps.
The ‘Incident Commander
Pro’ communications log speeds up log entry and improves accuracy by
automatically inserting the call-signs (from the assignment forms) and the
dialogue time stamps. This rapidly generates legible, sortable logs that can be
printed in a number of formats. Entering the dialogue field does require typing
on the keyboard, which is typically done after the dialogue has been received.
An even faster approach entails installing a push-to-talk footswitch for the
microphone. This frees up both hands to type in the dialogue entry immediately
it is received.
These field-proven tips will deliver faster responder deployments, while simultaneously improving personnel check-in, briefing, deployments and mission communications.
Tip: Displaying Google Earth Maps in 'Incident Commander Pro'
Google Earth Map
'Incident Commander Pro'
Google Earth map images can be saved (Save... Save Image...) and displayed directly within the map module of 'Incident Commander Pro', using the 'Add Layer' button.
However the saved Google Earth jpg image needs a companion 6-line text 'world file' to correctly geo-reference (locate and scale) the image within the map module:
The Google Earth jpg map image and its companion geo-referencing text 'World File'
Geo-referencing 'World File' Creation
- First configure Google
Earth to display in UTM units, with
the scale-bar visible, then save the map image
(e.g. to RedDeer.jpg) .
- Move the cursor to the
top-left (North-West) corner of the map and record the UTM Easting &
Northing values, from the location display (e.g. 0308785E,
- Record the displayed
Scale-Bar Length e.g. 2052m.
- Load the jpg map-image into
an image editor and measure the pixel length of the scalebar
e.g. 256 pixels
- Calculate the map image Scale Factor = Displayed Scalebar Length (m) / Measured Scalebar Length (pixels) e.g. 2052m/256 pixels = 8.0156 m/pixel.
Enter the map-image UTM Easting, UTM Northing and Scale Factor values into the six-line text 'world file' (eg RedDeer.jgw) as shown below:
8.0156 (X) Scale Factor (meters/pixels) = Displayed Scalebar Length (m) / Measured Scalebar Length (pixels)
-8.0156 (Y) Scale Factor (meters/pixels) = Displayed Scalebar Length (m) / Measured Scalebar Length (pixels)
0308785 UTM (X) Easting of the North-West Map Corner (meters)
5794406 UTM (Y) Northing of the North-West Map Corner (meters)
With the RedDeer.jgw text 'world-file' saved in the same folder as the RedDeer.jpg image file, 'Incident Commander Pro' will display the map image to the correct scale and location within the map module.
Tip: Using Google Earth with 'Incident Commander Pro'
Google Earth information may easily be entered into 'Incident Commander Pro' for quickly creating area information and mission assignments.
Earth - Enter the required address/location in Google Earth.
2. Google Earth - save map image
3. Incident Commander
Pro - Create new Mission Area.
Commander Pro - Mission Areas
The Google Earth address, location and map image are now ready for use in 'Incident Commander Pro'.
Tip: Displaying 'Incident Commander Pro' Maps in other GIS Applications
Displaying 'Incident Commander Pro' maps in GIS applications can be useful when other organizations wish to review the shapefile GIS maps created by 'Incident Commander Pro'.
Labels, which are drawn on top of the base
map layers, can be directly displayed by other GIS applications.
Adding projection files, from the table below, permits these customized features to be displayed, with their full geo-locating and scaling, in other GIS applications.
e.g. for an 'Incident Commander Pro' mission map called 'Mission1'
Right-click the Route projection file for your region and Save Target As... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Mission\Mission1_ln.prj
Right-click the Area projection file for your region and Save Target As.... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Mission\Mission1_ply.prj
Right-click the Label projection file for your region and Save Target As.... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Mission\Mission1_pnt.prj
e.g. for an 'Incident Commander Pro' default map called 'YosemitePark'
Right-click the Route projection file for your region and Save Target As... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Default\YosemitePark_ln.prj
Right-click the Area projection file for your region and Save Target As.... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Default\YosemitePark_ply.prj
Right-click the Label projection file for your region and Save Target As.... C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Default\YosemitePark_pnt.prj
Common GIS applications will then be able to directly browse to and display these geo-located and scaled customized 'Incident Commander Pro' maps.
'Incident Commander Pro' Regional UTM Projection Files (meters)
(The content of these
geo-referencing projection files
can be viewed in Notepad) ICPro_CreatingProjectionFiles.txt
'Incident Commander Pro' World-Wide Lat-Long Projection File (degrees) for images
Geographic Coordinate System WGS 84 Lat-Long Degree
Alternatively the customized map
files (.shp .shx .dbf
.prj) may be copied to another computer for
a GIS application to display:
e.g. Copy to [New Computer]
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Mission\Mission1_ln.shp Mission1_ply.shp Mission1_pnt.shp Mission1_ln.prj Mission1_ply.prj Mission1_pnt.prj Mission1.shx Mission1.dbf
Tip: Copying 'Incident Commander Pro' GIS Maps to another Computer
Commander Pro' GIS
maps to another computer can be useful for both
backing up the maps and for displaying these maps on other computers. Sharing
the GIS maps can be especially useful when other teams and organizations running 'Incident
Commander Pro' are assisting with an incident.
Incident Commander Pro's GIS maps contain background map layers and customized map features.
These layers and features can be copied to another computer as follows:
Example: Assuming the 'Incident Commander Pro' background map layers of states, rivers, roads and cities were added from C:\Mapfiles\US\ ...
1. Copy the entire background layers folder [Original Computer] C:\Mapfiles\US\ to [New Computer] C:\Mapfiles\US\
2. For an 'Incident Commander Pro' default map called 'YosemitePark'
Copy the customized map features file-set (.map .shp .shx .dbf) to the same folder on the new computer...
Copy [Original Computer] C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Default\YosemitePark.map YosemitePark.shp YosemitePark.shx YosemitePark.dbf
to [New Computer] C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\Gis\Data\Default\YosemitePark.map YosemitePark.shp YosemitePark.shx YosemitePark.dbf
When Incident Commander Pro's GIS map module is then opened on the new computer the copied 'YosemitePark' default map will be listed for display.
Tip: Upload/Download 'Incident Commander Pro' GPS Routes , Tracks & Waypoints
Waypoint locations stored on the GPS can be downloaded and displayed as individual point locations on the GIS map, as either a 'dxf' or 'shape'-file. Garmin's Mapsource software will download and save these locations as a 'dxf' file, which can then be displayed as a 'dxf'-points layer on the GIS map.
Use the shape-file Comment, or the dxf-points file Description, map-layer property to display labels beside these map icons. This can be very useful for customizing local maps with specific local features such as landmarks, landing zones, repeater sites etc.
Tip: Creating 'Incident Commander' Reports as Microsoft
portable XPS files
Creating 'Incident Commander’ reports as Microsoft XPS files.
Here is a convenient new way to view and share 'Incident Commander Pro' information.
By installing Microsoft's free XPS Document Viewer ‘Incident Commander’ reports can be printed directly to the XPS (XML Paper Specification) format. This creates output to a small, portable XPS file that is an exact, formatted copy of the original report.
These XPS files (.xps) may be printed immediately from the 'Incident Commander' Print menu, viewed directly in Internet Explorer, saved as permanent data backup, emailed to the responsible agency and shared with other applications.
Tip: Print 'Incident Commander Pro' maps in large format
'Incident Commander Pro's GIS 'Export Map Image' function permits the displayed map to be saved as a jpg image file. This image can be printed directly at the normal printer paper size.
Many image editors, such as Ulead Photo Express, permit images to be printed in a large-scale tiled 'poster' format.
Before exporting the
map image increase the Scale Factor from 1 to 5, to increase the image
resolution, and then print the saved image using a tiled 'poster' print utility.
This permits multiple hard copy pages to be tiled together to create a large
scale 'poster' map.
Tip: Display 'CAD Files in Incident Commander Pro'
'Incident Commander Pro' can display many common file types as map layers within it's GIS map module. These file types including shape-files, coverages, tif, gif, jpg, bmp and MrSID images . 'Incident Commander Pro' also has the capability to display the vector-based .DXF and .DWG CAD drawing files.
Being able to display DWG and DXF files provides the unique
opportunity to review geo-located buildings and site-plans - such as stadiums,
conference centers, airports, public utilities, dams, power stations and other critical
infrastructures - within the 'Incident Commander Pro' GIS
map module. These
CAD file types are displayed as true engineering drawings, with all of their
associated properties - for example color, line-size, labels etc. - available
for fully customizable display by 'Incident Commander Pro'. For more information
CAD Files in 'Incident Commander Pro' .
Tip: Display 'Incident Commander' Reports on your PDA!
Printing 'Incident Commander' reports to a PDF printer driver permits the fully formatted report files to be saved on the local computer or a sent to a PDA. After transferring via the docking station, infrared port or cellular email connection, these fully formatted PDF reports may be viewed on a PDA for rapid use by the incident response team.
Store your Document and Image files
within the 'Incident Commander' Folder
Running 'Incident Commander' over a network requires that your linked files, such as Portrait images, Pre-Plan documents, Route images and Area images, be available to all of the computers on the network. Storing these files in sub-folders of 'Incident Commander' on the host computer will ensure that all these user folders and files will be shared and accessible by all the client networked computers.
1. Create the new folders: My_Documents, My_Reports, My_Portraits, My_RouteImages and My_AreaImages under the shared host computer
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\ folder.
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\My_Documents - for your Pre-Plan documents.
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\My_Reports - for your exported reports and fully-formatted PDF print reports.
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\My_Portraits - for your Personnel and Missing Person images.
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\My_RouteImages - for your Route Images.
C:\Program Files\SAR Technology\IC\My_AreaImages - for your Area images.
2. Place your
document and image files in these folders.
This will make them easy to find over the network and ensures that they can be shared and displayed by all of the networked computers running 'Incident Commander'.
Creating 'Incident Commander' Reports
as PDF files
Creating 'Incident Commander’ Reports as PDF files.
Here is a convenient new way to share and archive 'Incident Commander' information. By installing a PDF printer driver ‘Incident Commander’ reports can be printed directly to the PDF (Personal Document File) format. This creates output to a PDF file that is an exact, formatted copy of the original report. These PDF files (.pdf) may be printed immediately from the 'Incident Commander' Print menu, saved as permanent data backup, emailed to the responsible agency and shared with other applications.
Tip: Prepare Pre-Planned Missions using 'Operational Period Zero'
'Many users have asked if they can create permanently-stored pre-planned missions. The answer is Yes! - and the process is very simple...
Step 1. Create a new (pre-plan) mission and give it a name that indicates it is a preplan e.g.: 'Terrorist-Response Pre-Plan'.
Step 2. Give the mission an Operational Period Number ''0'.
(The Operational Period Number '0' indicates that the mission is a pre-plan and not yet active).
Step 3. Enter all of the information that describes the mission - for example a Communications Plan and a list of expected Mission Trails and Mission Search Areas. An Operations Plan, consisting of a list of pre-prepared Assignments, is then created, followed by any additional support information, such as the standard ICS section forms, to complete the pre-plan.
Step 4. The stored pre-plan is then saved and kept ready to be used, whenever the plan has to be implemented.
Activation of the Preplan. The stored pre-plan can be immediately activated at any time by opening the pre-planned mission, renaming it slightly if required, and changing the Operational Period Number to '1' (the first active operational period). All of the pre-planned information previously entered for the mission may now be used to immediately respond to the incident.
In this way an unlimited number of
pre-plans can be created and stored permanently for immediate response to any type of
Tip: Sharing '‘Incident
Commander' Data between Organizations
Response teams often wish to share information, such as as their 'Incident Commander' software's Personnel and Organizations lists, with their neighboring teams. Sharing and combining their lists permits the rapid check-in of searchers from neighboring teams and provides an expanded Teams & Agencies resource list. Data can be shared between organizations using the three simple steps outlined below:
Step 1: Export the 'Incident Commander' data to a Spreadsheet:
Data can be exported using 'Incident Commander's' Export utility, found within the Print Reports function. For example; export the Personnel Names report to an Excel spreadsheet e.g. as 'PersonnelNames.xls'. This spreadsheet file can be given or emailed to the neighbouring teams.
Step 2: Simplify the Spreadsheet Display:
Open the Excel spreadsheet, select and then hide all of the columns you do NOT wish to import - for example all of the columns except those listing personnel names and telephone numbers. Use Excel's Format... Column... Hide... menu items to hide these unwanted columns. The simplified spreadsheet will now display only the personnel names and telephone numbers to be imported.
Step 3: Paste Data into 'Incident Commander'
Arrange your computer desktop with the 'Incident Commander's' Personnel window above the Excel window.
1. Create a new personnel record using the 'new' button.
2. Place the cursor over the Name record in Excel and press Ctrl-C to copy the name.
3. Place the cursor in the Name field in 'Incident Commander's Personnel window and press Ctrl-V to paste the name into the field.
4. Repeat this process for each of the phone numbers (home number, work number) etc.. and then save the record in 'Incident Commander'. Repeat this process for each personnel record.
This simple procedure will rapidly import the previously-exported data into 'Incident Commander'.
Expanded 'Help' features for 'Incident
Many 'Incident Commander' users have asked for additional information on how to setup, network and backup their copies of 'Incident Commander'. To assist in these important functions the 'Incident Commander' Help facility has been expanded to include more detailed information on these topics. You may view and download the latest 'Incident Commander' Help files from the SAR Technology Downloads webpage.
Program Backup of 'Incident Commander' software
It is a good idea to make regular, dated backup copies of the entire 'Incident Commander' program.
Create backup copies of the entire 'Incident Commander' software program by copying to a separate (safe) location on a remote, large-capacity storage disk.
It is recommended that the Incident Commander program be backed up (copied) to another 'remote' (client) computers, or onto a CD or mass storage device, after each Operational Period, at the completion of the mission or after a major data entry session.
The best backup option for the
'Incident Commander' program is to copy the entire program onto a large-capacity removable-media drive
such as a re-writable CD-ROM, portable
hard drive, mass storage device, etc. These offer fast backup and simple restore capabilities through
the Windows Explorer.
When backing up, first close Incident Commander and then COPY THE ENTIRE Incident Commander FOLDER STRUCTURE, INCLUDING ALL SUBFOLDERS, to the backup device. Do not attempt any selective or partial backup, as files in different folders are related to each other.
Never attempt to copy Incident Commander will the program is running on any computer as data corruption of open files may occur.
Backup Tip: After the entire 'Incident Commander' directory folder has been copied to its backup location it is recommended that this backup folder be renamed to include the backup date, e.g. to a folder named: '[Drive]:SearchManager_23July2005'.
This backup folder contains a full copy of the latest data in the 'Incident Commander' program. It also ensures that this backup folder can be copied back onto the 'host' computer and used to run any future incident.
Tip: Backup of 'Incident Commander' data
Data backup is carried out using the Print... Export data function within the 'Incident Commander' software program - typically to text files (.txt), database (.dbf) files or Excel files (.xls). These files should be stored off the host computer onto a mass storage device, portable hard drive, floppy disk or CD.
Data Backup: Printing Reports
All of the reports listed in 'Incident Commander' may be printed out through the Print Reports function. It is strongly recommended that every report listed be regularly printed out and stored in a binder that is kept in a safe location. This hard-copy form will ensure that the data entered into 'Incident Commander' will always be recorded in a relatively permanent (paper), non-electronic format. Printing reports directly from the Print Report function will ensure that every record in each table's report will be printed. (Printing from an open form will typically only print the single, current record, or one page-length of records).
Data Backup: Exporting Reports
All of the reports listed in 'Incident Commander's' Print Reports function may also be exported in a variety of formats, including text files (.txt), database (.dbf) files or Excel files (.xls). It is strongly recommended that every report listed be regularly exported to at least one of these electronic formats. The files created during the Export process should then be copied and stored onto a floppy disk, CD, Zip disk, or copied onto another computer, this will keep this file data safe from the risk of a hardware or software crash on 'Incident Commander's 'host' computer. If there is ever a need to restore the data then these files can be opened, their data 'copied' and then 'pasted' back into the correct form's fields within 'Incident Commander'.
For more information please contact:
Phone: (604) 921-2488 Fax (604) 921-2484 firstname.lastname@example.org
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