National Wildfire Coordinating Group

NWCG Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS) Workflow, PMS 936-1


The NWCG Geographic Information System Specialist (GISS) Workflow, PMS 936-1, is supplemental to the NWCG Standards for Geospatial Operations (GeoOps), PMS 936.

The NWCG GISS Workflow, PMS 936-1, is developed and maintained by the NWCG Geospatial Subcommittee (GSC) under the direction of the Data Management Committee (DMC), an entity of NWCG. While previous versions may contain current or useful information, they are obsolete. The user of this information is responsible for confirming they have the most up-to-date version. NWCG is the sole source for the publication.

Comments, questions, and recommendations shall be submitted to the appropriate agency member assigned to the GSC. View the complete roster.

NWCG GISS Workflow Diagram

GIS Workflow, explained below

Figure 1. GIS Workflow
(click image to open larger)

The NWCG GISS Workflow provides three levels of detail, which are scalable to the user. The graphic shows the basic order of operations, followed by an outline of the major steps and essential process details, and finally, the links in the outline and the navigation pane lead the user to detailed process instructions and documentation (see Figure 1).


Offline Copy

The Mobile Geodatabase (GDB) is created when the user runs the Download Map function. This is a copy of the National Incident Feature Services (NIFS) data that can be edited and synchronized. Sync works both ways and an Offline Copy can be synced multiple times; the Offline Copy should always be synchronized before an edit session (to pull down new data) and after an edit session (to push up new edits).

Note that this is not the same GDB used for map creation.

Master Incident GDB

The most current GDB named per GeoOps standards ({year}_{incident name}_{unit ID + local incident ID}) and placed in the incident_data folder to be used as the source for all incident maps. This GDB should not be edited.

Pro Project Template

The ArcGIS Pro project (.aprx) file included in the GeoOps Folder structure under projects. ‘Save As’ should be used on this template to create the Edit Project and all Master Projects. Implementation instructions can be found in the tools folder in the Prepare and Configure the Event GDB document.

Edit Project

The ArcGIS Pro project (.aprx) used for creating and editing the Offline Copy. Editing should not be done in any project used for map creation. This project stores the configured Feature Templates.

Master Project

The current ArcGIS Pro project (.aprx) for each map project. Master Projects can contain multiple layouts for the same map view, but each should be for only a single project type (e.g., All division maps in one project or multiple sizes of the PIO map in one project). Daily backups should be made of each Master Project.

Data Preparation – Do Once

  1. Gather incident information – Name, Unit ID, IRWINID, etc.
  2. Copy the GeoOps Incident Directory Structure to the hard drive. Rename for incident.
  3. Populate the base_data folder with data relevant to the fire area.
  4. Open and save a new ArcGIS Pro project to be the Edit Project. Name per GeoOps standards {map type} = “edit”.
    1.  Set data frame coordinate system to local projection.
    2. Create an Offline Copy:
      1. Add the National Incident Feature Service (NIFS).
      2. Zoom to incident area of interest (AOI).
      3. Select Download Map to create an Offline Copy.
    3. Add template layer file and repair path to point to the Offline Copy.
    4. Configure Feature Templates.
    5. Save a group layer file for Event Features in the incident_data folder and include your name.
  5. Create and Share Web Maps for mobile data collection and information sharing.

Edit Incident Data – Repeat as Necessary

  1. Edit the NIFS (Offline Copy).
    1. Secure information through the Situation Unit Leader (SITL) to create/edit incident data.
    2. Process/Convert/Import incoming data and store per GeoOps file structure.
    3. Open the Edit Project and create an, or sync as existing, Offline Copy of the AOI. Edit incident data (only edit your incident).
      1. Edit the EventPolygon first. Calculate Geometries and populate attributes.
      2. Edit the coincident PerimeterLine features to match the Fire Polygon. Calculate Geometries and populate attributes.
      3. Edit the EventPoint or EventLine features in a logical order. Calculate Geometries and populate attributes.
    4. Manage suppression repair data.
    5. Save data edits, sync Offline Copy, and save Edit Project.
    6. Export the latest fire perimeter to a progression GDB for use in the progression maps.
    7. Calculate containment, ownership acres, etc.

Update the Master Incident GDB – Done After Every Edit Cycle

  1. Back up Offline Copy.
    1. Determine the path and name of the Offline Copy.
    2. Synchronize the current Offline Copy with the NIFS.
    3. Convert the Offline Copy (mobile GDB) to a backup GDB (file GDB).  Save into the daily backup folder under incident_data\backups and name following GeoOps.
  2. Replace Master Incident GDB – Copy the backup to the incident data folder and rename it, following GeoOps naming convention to become the new Master Incident GDB.

Create Incident Maps and Digital Products – Repeat as Necessary

  1. Create or Update Incident Map(s).
    1. Use an existing master project or open a template and Save As a new Master Project per the GeoOps.
    2. Set data frame coordinate system to local projection.
    3. Add layer file(s) and repair path to point to the Master Incident GDB.
    4. Add base maps and ancillary datasets to map.
    5. Create a layout for the desired map product or apply template from an existing project.
    6. Use definition queries to display only the Event Features appropriate for the intended map audience.
    7. Create annotation as necessary.
    8. Use dynamic labeling where applicable.
    9. Ensure all essential map elements are present and correct (STANDL SGD).
    10. Export Geospatial PDF map per the GeoOps standards.
  2. Back up map projects in projects\backups folder per the GeoOps.
  3. Create and share public web products.

Back Up and Sharing – Repeat as Necessary

  1. Post digital map products to the NIFC FTP site nightly. Use QR codes if desired.
  2. Back up Incident Directory Structure.

**** If additional NIFS edits are needed the Master Incident GDB should not be edited. Only the Offline Copy should be edited.****

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) provides national leadership to enable interoperable wildland fire operations among federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local partners. NWCG operations standards are interagency by design; they are developed with the intent of universal adoption by the member agencies. However, the decision to adopt and utilize them is made independently by the individual member agencies and communicated through their respective directives systems.


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