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


September 15, 2014

Access to the Layers palette in the Global Hazards Atlas system is available by clicking the layers icon (circled above in red) in the top toolbar. 

Understanding risk is a key step in making decisions about what types of actions to take in order to reduce hazard impacts. During a crisis, it can become particularly challenging if information is scattered across multiple organizations or channels. DisasterAWARE helps overcome this problem by offering users the ability to access and share comprehensive and accurate information with those who need it most.

Upon launching DisasterAWARE through Global Hazards Atlas, information streams for recently detected hazards are displayed on a map viewer. In order to build a comprehensive understanding of an event or potential event, other valuable information - such as weather conditions, forecasts, vulnerable populations, and critical infrastructure – may be used as overlays. This information fusion will help better analysis of events, and is one of your greatest assets for disaster risk reduction decisions.

The Layers palette will automatically display upon launch, or can be activated by clicking its icon in the upper toolbar (circled in red above). As the default, a thematically organized list is displayed. This is called the Folder View with the majority of the layers accessed through dropdown menus using the plus (+) symbol. In order to effectively use the layers in Atlas, you will need to learn how to view the information in a few additional ways as described and illustrated below.

We recommend that you get very familiar with the (Layer) Search tool. You will often be able to use this feature for direct access to a desired layer. Simply type in a key word, and the tool will retrieve all layers associated with the specified key word(s) in titles or descriptions.

Clicking on the check box to the left of the layer name turns it on or off. In addition to the default layers, begin getting to know the system by only selecting 1-3 additional layers at a time. Certain datasets can be big, and loading too much data at the same time can overwhelm your computer. Using only a few layers at a time will also help others better understand your maps.

A gear icon appears to the left of a layer checkbox when you move your mouse over the layer’s listing, and select layers display a magnifying glass on the right edge, these provide additional layer controls, as well as information about the source and meaning of the data.

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the organizational structure and basic functionality, it’s your turn to spend some time exploring.

Next we will delve further into how to use DisasterAWARE by demonstrating the power of the Area Brief to analyze risk and vulnerability, current hazards, and historical impacts. 

For more information on DIY:
• Learn about DisasterAWARE Map Tips,
• Read about the DIY series initiated for National Preparedness Month, or 
• Visit the National Preparedness Month website.

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 DisasterAWARE products:

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.