10 Year Medal for MAPS Members

On July 31 2018, 12 MAPS members received their 10 year service medal. Medal presentation was done by Mick Gentleman MLA, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Allison Playford Director-General, Justice and Community Safety Directorate, Dominic Lane AFSM Commissioner ESA, David Foot ASM Executive Director Risk & Planning.

The following MAPS members received 10 year service medal:  

  • Marcus Blake

  • Ian Batley

  • John Lee

  • Amanda Kildea

  • Tim Johns

  • Ryan Lawrey

  • Heike Apps

  • Frank Blanchfield

  • Larysa Halas

  • Giovanna Lorenzin

  • Geoff Luton

  • Richard Nash

July 31 2018

News 2016

Maree Wilson is leaving MAPS

As you will have no-doubt heard by now Maree Wilson  is leaving GA for Defence and moving to the land of AFL, vintage trams, and historic gold mining (Bendigo).

Maree was one of the dozen Canberra volunteers to join Frank Blanchfield and Ian Batley in December 2007 and established the very first MAPS group.   All twelve held GIS professional positions in Federal agencies including ABS, AMSA, ANU, Defence and Geoscience Australia.


Since that time Maree has taken part in many local and interstate MAPS callouts, among them the Victorian Fires in Feb-March 2009 and the Queensland Floods in Dec 2010-Jan 2011.  


Throughout her nine years with MAPS, in addition to her busy day-time responsibilities in the Environmental Geoscience Division at GA, Maree has also undertaken a number of volunteer management roles including MAPS Supervisor, Executive Supervisor, Website Editor and Membership Registrar.

New MAPS Deployment History

MAPS Membership Registrar Maree Wilson has carried out a new analysis of all MAPS deployments.  The following summary chart shows the total number of person-days that members have been deployed each year since the group was founded in 2006.

The downward tend in MAPS activity over the past three years is of concern to the Supervisors and presents us with challenges in how best to attract and retain new members in 2017 . 

DMH: 30 September 2016

MAPS Supervisors Meeting: 21 Sep 2016

The spring MAPS Supervisors meeting was held at ESA HQ, Fairbairn on 21 September 2016 from 16:30 to 18:30.  Attending were MAPS Supervisors Marcus Blake, Ian Batley, Giovanna Lorenzin, Kate Waghorn, David Haycraft, Maree Wilson and Marg Jones.  Also attending were ESA Spatial Services staff members Steve Forbes and Jason McWhirters and ESA's new Director Risk and Planning David Foot. 


Apologies were received from Heike Apps, Malcolm Parnell and Frank Blanchfield.   Steve Forbes chaired the meeting.

                                                                       (Click the image to enlarge)

Agenda item discussed included:

Training:  Fire Mapping (evening) refresher training session and (one day) master class will be presented by Rodney Stewart from NSW RFS on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 October 2016 respectively.   Email invitations for the Fire Mapping classes to be sent to all MAPS members this week.

A SAR Training class will be presented in November 2016 by Jason McWhirter.   

Membership database:  Current MAPS Supervisor and member registrar Maree Wilson is to leave MAPS before year-end and  move interstate.  

Maree reported that, at this time, there are 56 members registered as active in the database, and another five applications pending. She recommended an annual membership update process to take place each August,  with a view to purging out inactive members - those that had failed to attend any training classes or respond to any "turn-out" requests in the previous twelve months.


Maree is moving from Geoscience Australia in Canberra to take up the Department of Defence position of “Director, Geospatial Intelligence” at the AGO Geospatial Analysis Centre in Bendigo, Victoria. 


Marg Jones will take over management of the MAPS membership database immediately.     

MAPS website:  Current MAPS Supervisor and website editor David Haycraft is also resigning from MAPS early in the new year, having just retired from ESA Spatial Services after 50 years in the ICT business, the last ten specialising in GIS app development. 


Ian Batley, the previous website editor, will resume management of the website content until a permanent replacement is identified.

Avenza PDF Maps:  Recent changes have been made to the way Avenza PDF maps are licensed and viewed.  For MAPS users, a limited number of Avenza maps will now be provided via Google Drive, and the old DropBox method will be abandoned.    MAPS Supervisor Kate Waghorn (currently on six-month secondment from ABS to ESA Spatial Services)  is developing the new procedure for MAPS users.

Relationship with Queanbeyan OSG:   Operations Support Group members are specialist police within the NSW Police Force to whom MAPS may provide mapping services, particularly in protracted Search-and-Rescue incidents.  Based on issues that arose from a recent OSG-MAPS IMX in Queanbeyan, MAPS Executive Marcus Blake will work with OSG Management to establish improved communications protocols.

Optional Training Programs:  Steve Forbes outlined a number of ESA training programs that would benefit MAPS volunteers, including "how to drive operational vehicles",  bushfire awareness training, first aid courses and the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS). 

EMOS: Steve Forbes explained that the Emergency Management Operations System is a new on-line incident management system developed by NSW Government with input from ACG Government agencies including ESA.  ESA plans to start using EMOS in 2017 for RFS (bushfire) and SES (SAR, flood relief) incident management.   EMOS logs Incident response activities and assigned resources, and can communicate announcements to involved parties by e-mail,  mobile phone system text message and Outlook posting.    MAPS volunteer activities will eventually be logged in EMOS.

RFS Open Day:  MAPS Supervisor Kate Waghorn  is coordinating the MAPS role in the open day to be held at Hume on Sunday 23 October 2016.  She is looking for volunteers to  staff the MAPS stand during the day.

Supervisor Replacement:  In response to the recent resignations of MAPS Supervisors Maree Wilson and David Haycraft and the possibility of two further resignations in the near future, a recruitment drive for new Supervisors is needed.  Options were discussed during the meeting and an initial email to all MAPS members will be the first action.

Ten-year Service Recognition:   A number of MAPS members are now approaching ten years of continuous involvement in MAP training and deployment events.     ESA has special medals and certificates ready for presentation.   Careful scrutiny of the membership database records will be required, supplemented with personal recollections from founding MAPS members,  to resolve any doubts about the "continuous involvement" criterion in individual cases.

DMH: 22 September June 2016

MAPS All-Members Training Day: Sunday 19 June 2016

Thirty-odd MAPS volunteers attended All-Members Training at ESA HQ, Fairbairn on a wet Sunday.  Topics covered during the day were:

 Support to SES incident management teams - presented by Graeme Ible/SES

  •   MAPS member support to SES storm & Flood operations

  •   This is a new capability we will be trialling at ESA

  •   SES staff to assist

  Support for AFP Search and Rescue team - presented by Jason McWhirter/ESA

  •   Report on recent deployments - see" MAPS Group assists in AFP Search-and-Rescue Jobs" below
  •   Review of basic SAR mapping concepts such as last known point (LKP) and lost person behaviour (LPB) buffers
  •   Progress of MAPS working group with step-by-step Search and Rescue Workflow document

  •   Use of ESA mapping laptop PCs preloaded with ArcGIS, urban and rural base map datasets and SAR-specific map templates

 Practical use of ESA HQ printers and wallboard display technology - presented by Kate Waghorn/ESA

  •   Mura control screen software

  •   Displaying the maps we make on the new touch screens

  •   Using the maps1 ACT government account

  •   Operation of A0 printers and laminator

 Training on EMOS (emergency management operations system) - presented by Rob Kilpatrick/ESA

  •  This is the new electronic records management system to be used by all staff and volunteers in an emergency
  •   It will replace hand-written logs and message forms


DMH - 19JUN16

MAPS Group assists in AFP Search-and-Rescue Jobs

Over the last several years MAPS members have become involved in SAR mapping with the AFP. They have attended a few AFP training exercises plus several SAR jobs.

Duties include preparing A0 laminated maps at ESA showing the last known point (LKP) and, from this LKP point, three concentric circles indicating search area buffers. These Lost Person Behaviour (LPB) buffers can vary and the distances and LKP are given to you by the AFP. The maps generally have UBD and aerial image/topographic backgrounds.

These maps are then brought to the Police Forward Command vehicle which is also your office. You set up the ESA laptop and A3 printer in this truck and you will then be given proposed search areas to digitise. ESA have set up map templates and you provide A3 tasking /search area maps with appropriate backgrounds. As groups return from searches you download all GPS data and provide maps with completed search areas.

Here is a sample SAR map produced by a MAPS Group volunteer?  Can you identify the LKP, the LPB Buffers and the Search Area Polygons?

                                                                       (Click the image to enlarge)


Depending on the search size and number of teams involved this can be a very busy process so there are generally two MAPS volunteers or one assisting an ESA staff member. MAPS involvement with SAR has proven to be very beneficial so we will probably be involved in many searches.


Currently there is a group of ESA/MAPS people putting together a SAR training package and this should be available in 2016 for interested MAPS members.

Heike Apps,  MAPS Group: 09 June 2016

MAPS Group attends Mt Clear Fire 16-21 December 2015

The Mt Clear Fire was located in the Booth Range Namadgi National Park and started on Wednesday night (16th) from a lightning strike.  MAPS involvement was from Thursday 17th through to Sunday evening on the 20th. The fire was in a remote area and only accessible initially for the Remote Area Firefighting Team (RAFT) and water bombing aircraft. The fire remained under 50 hectares in size.

The MAPS members deployed to ESA HQ in Fairbairn were Heike Apps, Kristy Van Putten, Frank Blanchefield and Kate Waghorn.  For three days we had 2 members deployed for 12 hour day shifts with one working in the Planning room and one in the Operations room.  The MAPS member working in the planning room did the mapping for the Incident Action Plan (IAP), predictive maps and any ‘one off’ maps. They also ensured enough maps were printed for the firefighters.

The MAPS member in the Operations room ensured they had the latest linescan and hotspot data plus gpx data from the fireground. They mapped the fire edge and ensured they had the latest data on the dozer trail being constructed plus information on the location of water (buoywalls). After the data was updated it was saved so the person in the planning room could use the updated information. The data was uploaded to ICON regularly.

There was good communications between the MAPS members plus MAPS and the planning team. Everything worked fairly smoothly and though we had a few small glitches they were quickly addressed.

On Sunday afternoon there was not much happening for MAPS on the Mt Clear fire but Steve was busy as an air observer around Canberra and we mapped the Wallaroo Road fire (polygon provided by Steve) and Mt Taylor fire (polygon taken from a photo provided by Steve).

Heike and Kate hard at work at ESA HQ, Fairbairn

Heike Apps,  MAPS Group: 07 June 2016

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