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  Case Study: Hurricane Katrina  
 


In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans region was flooded. Rescue and relief efforts were hindered by both high and contaminated water. Gold Systems was able to work quickly and build an unlikely tool to aid relief efforts.

Challenge
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the EPA identified the need to immediately begin assessment of the flood waters and the potential impact upon the health of both those that were stranded by the storm and those involved in the rescue efforts. This information would need to be thoroughly checked for errors and then provided to the rescue teams and the media in a format that was easy to understand and utilize.

Approach
In order to meet this challenge it was clear that a single central database must be used to store this data. Additionally, there needed to be a way for those collecting the samples in the field to get the monitoring results into the database as quickly and accurately as possible.

With no existing database created specifically for this purpose, the decision was made to record and publish this data from the EPA's national water quality database. The mechanism chosen to load this data is the Web-Based STORET Import Module (WebSIM) developed by Gold Systems. Additionally, a staging area was needed where the data could be reviewed and checked for accuracy before being made available to the public through the national STORET web-site.

Working with the EPA, Gold Systems was able to architect and deploy a solution within 24 hours of being notified of the situation. Gold System stood up a secure copy of the national STORET database, WebSIM, and a data warehouse that would allow the data providers to quickly submit, track, and QC these records. Each evening, Gold Systems would then provide an updated copy of the entire database to the National Computing Center where it was prepared for release the following day. As a participant in this emergency effort, Gold Systems chose not to charge any fees for the hardware, software, or bandwidth used to host this solution.

Outcome
Due in large to the flexibility, adaptability, and rapid response by the Gold Systems team, water quality data was able to be processed, validated, and provided to those who needed it, often within 24 hours of being collected. Getting this data into the hands of those leading the rescue efforts could then be used to assess risk and set protocols as the efforts continued and until the flood waters eventually receded.

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