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Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Preparedness: Layer Controls in DisasterAWARE

September 19, 2014

Quickly learning to use the Layer Options in PDC’s DisasterAWARE will give you the power to create precise visual messages on hazard maps. Public access to DisasterAWARE is available through Global Hazards Atlas

As you become familiar with DisasterAWARE’s layer navigation, having control over a layers appearance will help create better and more meaningful maps (to keep or share), while understanding of the scale, source, age, and meaning of a layer will help more accurately capture the context of the information. Mastering the available layer controls will increase the overall sophistication of your maps. And it is very easy to do!

Layers may present information that relates to local, national, or regional levels, and therefore may need to be viewed at a certain extent (closer or farther away). When this applies to a layer, a Zoom to Visual Scale option—indicated by a magnifying glass—appears next to the layer (circled in red below). Just click the magnifying glass and the map will automatically zoom in or out to a scale at which the layer can be seen.

Another very useful option is changing transparency of a layer, so that you may see what is underneath it. Likewise, you may easily “cluster” points that are so close to one another that are hard to distinguish at a zoomed-out scale. These and other handy features may all be controlled by a Layer Option menu, as shown below.

Additionally, a Layer Options menu is available for accessing useful source information about the data, called “metadata.” The menu will appear if you click the gear icon that appears to the left of the layer name, this is circled in red below. The Layer Options menu typically consists of various functions:

  • Layer Description: Offers a simple description of the layer
  • Show/Hide Layer: Turns layers on and off
  • Transparency: Adjusts the color saturation
  • Cluster View: Groups data into sets
  • Metadata Summary: Provides source, detailed description, and processing schedule. Full metadata information can also be opened in a new browser tab by clicking the “Open in Browser” link at the upper-right hand corner of the menu.

By now you should be aware of the breadth and depth of information that can be used to increase awareness about ongoing or potential hazards and their impacts, remember to “take it slow” by selecting only 1 to 3 layers at a time in addition to the default ones, and consider how much information others will be able to understand based on how well they can distinguish the layers you have chosen.

For related information:
• Learn about DisasterAWARE Layer Navigation,
• Learn about how to use DisasterAWARE Map Tips,
• Read about the PDC DIY series for National Preparedness Month,
• Visit the National Preparedness Month website, and 
• Visit FEMA's National Preparedness Community page.

More from Pacific Disaster Center

To keep yourself up-to-the-minute about hazards and disasters:

For the latest Weather and Disaster News, use the PDC Weather Wall.

While you are thinking of hazards, think of preparedness. PDC provides disaster preparedness information, including printable instructions for assembling a Disaster Supply Kit and rehearsing a Family Disaster Plan.

For more information on DisasterAWARETM products:

  • For details, see the Training Guide for Web-accessible Disaster Alert,
  • Read and understand more about custom versions, such as DMRS and VinAWARE,
  • Watch the ASEAN DMRS video on YouTube.

About PDC:

Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) envisions a safer, more secure world—where populations live in more disaster-resilient communities informed by science and technology, and equipped with sound decision support tools. To help make that vision a reality, PDC is dedicated to supporting evidence-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts by providing actionable information and applications to the public and disaster managers worldwide. PDC, a program managed by the University of Hawaii, was established by the U.S. government in 1996.