Georeferencing incidents from locality descriptions and its applications: A case study from Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue

  • Doherty P
  • Guo Q
  • Liu Y
 et al. 
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The Search and Rescue (SAR) of individuals who become lost, injured, or stranded in wilderness presents a unique and worthwhile spatiotemporal challenge to inves- tigate. Once incidents are georeferenced they can be spatially queried and ana- lyzed. However, one major challenge for evaluating SAR in a spatial context is the lack of explicitly spatial data (addresses or coordinates) for historic incidents; they must be georeferenced from textual descriptions. This study implemented two established approaches for georeferencing incidents, the ‘Point-Radius’ and ‘Shape’ methods. Incorporating uncertainty measurements into a spatial database allows for more appropriate analyses of spatial dependence and the spatial distri- bution of incidents. From 2005–2010, 1,271 of 1,356 Yosemite Search and Rescue YOSAR incidents (93.7%) could be georeferenced using the Point-Radius Method, with a mean uncertainty radius = 560 ? 51 m and mean uncertainty area of 3.60 ? 0.840 km2 . However, when the Shape Method was applied to six case studies by considering the reference object shape, the uncertainty areas were reduced considerably (by up to 99.5% of the uncertain area generated by the Point-Radius Method). This is the first spatially-explicit study of SAR incidents and yields valuable insights into the role of georeferenced data in emergency preparedness

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