NWCG 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 Workflow serves as the three-level implementation process which is scalable to the user. The graphic diagram, at a glance, shows the basic order of operations.

The GeoOps ensures consistency in the delivery of GIS products and services.

The NWCG GISS Workflow, PMS 936-1, is developed and maintained by the NWCG Geospatial Subcommittee (GSC) and approved by the NWCG Data Management Committee (DMC).

Prior to February 2020, the GeoOps was known as GIS Standard Operating Procedures on Incidents (GSTOP). 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 at https://www.nwcg.gov/committees/geospatial-subcommittee/roster.

NWCG GISS Workflow Diagram

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This NWCG GISS Workflow publication provides three levels of detail, which are scalable to the user.  The graphic diagram, at a glance, shows the basic order of operations.  Below is an outline/decision key of steps, providing minimal process details.  And finally, the links in the outline and on the navigation pane lead the user to web pages and sub-pages for the sections and subsections that give detailed process instructions and tools.

GIS Workflow, explained below


Local Copy

Refers to multiple software specific options for the GDB used for editing feature services. The incident will be a Local Copy (ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro) from the National Incident Feature Service (NIFS) in a system folder. Note that this is not the same GDB that is used for mapping purposes. Local copies should exist only during editing and preferably less than an hour to avoid conflicts. Not available with ArcMap Basic license.

Master Incident GDB

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

Edit Incident GDB

A GDB copy for editing named per GeoOps standards ({year}_{incident name}_{unit ID + local incident ID}_edit) and is placed in the incident_data\edit folder. This allows other GISS to continue map production using Master Incident GDB. Should only use when the incident command post (ICP) has no internet access. The GDB is backed up and used to overwrite the Master Incident GDB after edits are finalized.

Edit Project

The map document (.mxd) or project (.aprx) used for editing the Edit Incident GDB or Local Copy. Editing should not be done in any project used for mapping. The project stores your configured Feature Templates.

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 map document (ArcMap) or project (Pro) to be the Edit Project. Name per GeoOps standards {map type} = “edit.”
    1. Internet Access? (if possible before leaving for incident).
      1. YES – Create a Local Copy:
        1. Zoom to incident area of interest (AOI).
        2. Add the National Incident Feature Service (NIFS).
        3. Create a Local Copy (ArcMap) or Download Map (ArcGIS Pro).
      2. NO – Create an Edit Incident GDB in the incident_data\edit folder and rename to GeoOps standard and add _edit to the end of GDB name.
    2. Add template layer file and repair path to point to GDB (Local or Edit).
    3. Set data frame coordinate system to local projection.
    4. Configure Feature Templates.
    5. Save a group layer file for Event 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 GDB (Local Copy or Edit Incident GDB).
    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 a new Local Copy if necessary (watch AOI and only edit your incident). Edit the GDB.
      1. Edit the EventPolygon first. Calculate Geometries and populate attributes.
      2. Edit the coincident EventLine 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. Save data edits and save Edit Project.
    5. Export the latest fire perimeter to a progression GDB for use in the progression maps.
    6. Calculate containment, ownership acres, etc.

Update the Master Incident GDB – Done after every Edit Cycle

  1. Internet Access?
    1. YES – Sync and then Backup Local Copy (ArcMap) or Download Map (ArcGIS Pro)
      1. Determine the path and name of the Local Copy.
      2. Synchronize Local Copy with the NIFS.
      3. Create a copy of the Local Copy, paste into the daily backup folder under incident_data\backups and rename following GeoOps.
    2. NO – Backup Edit Incident GDB
      1. Copy the Edit Incident GDB in incident_data\edit and paste it into the backup folder under incident_data\backups. Rename following GeoOps.
      2. Upload a copy of the backup to Fire Enterprise Geospatial Portal (EGP) when internet becomes available.
  2. Replace Master Incident GDB – Use the current GDB backup to overwrite the Master Incident GDB with the newest incident data. Maintain the GeoOps naming convention.

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 master project per 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 to 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 GeoOps standards.
    11. Backup map documents in projects\backups folder per GeoOps.

Backup and Sharing – Repeat as Necessary

  1. Post map products to the NIFC FTP site nightly. Use QR codes to reference folders if desired.
  2. Backup Incident Directory Structure.

**** If additional GDB edits are needed the Master Incident GDB should not be edited. Only the Local Copy or Edit Incident GDB 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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