Google Maps and Google Earth allow the development of customized displays, but such displays must be constructed by a software developer. The Flood Dashboard allows non-technical users to utilize a simple Web form to build and present custom displays. It is a Ruby on Rails 4 application that allows users to build custom geospatial displays, distribute bulletins, and show hydrological data in a clean Web display. This system allows users a greater situation awareness of hydrological activity that will hopefully enable decision-makers to respond more quickly and in a more informed manner to natural disasters.

The system uses Google Earth and Google Maps to place geospatially located vector data onto a map of Earth. This is used to combine and view different types of science and social data products in map form. The bulletin system allows users to upload PDF bulletins that can be viewed in a browser or downloaded for local access. The historical record of bulletins is available for users to view. The hydrological data display is intended primarily to display river height, which can be correlated between regional gauge stations.

The software can be deployed via “Software as a Service” platforms such as Amazon Web Services or Heroku. This will ultimately allow even non-technical users to deploy “from the ground up” copies of the codebase to form entirely separate dashboards for their users’ regions of interest. Organizations with limited financial resources and limited internal technical expertise can utilize the software without dependence on other organizations.

The Google Maps display, bulletin system, and hydrological graphing system are all integrated into a common display that can be configured and used easily by non-technical operators to view and access science data products. The goal is to allow users to aggregate science data products (i.e. flood extent maps, precipitation estimates, regional risk factors) and social data (population distributions, vital infrastructure) into custom and configurable displays to allow decision-makers access to more useful data more quickly. The graphing capability of hydrological data provides another vector for distributing and viewing relevant data. Combined with the bulletin system, the facility exists for custom displays to be generated, and information that is relevant to that display can be distributed and archived via that bulletin.

This work was done by Matthew Handy and Daniel Mandl of Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA is seeking partners to further develop this technology through joint cooperative research and development. For more information about this technology and to explore opportunities, please contact Scott Leonardi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GSC-17442-1


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This article first appeared in the August, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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