Seeing the Great American Eclipse

August 16, 2017  - By

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A total solar eclipse will cross the United States from coast to coast on Monday, Aug. 21 — the first solar eclipse in nearly 40 years.

Not only is this is the first eclipse in the age of social media, it is the first with a path of totality crossing the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the U.S. since 1918.

Also, its path of totality makes landfall exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse since the country’s independence in 1776.

An interactive story map from Esri, Seeing the Great American Eclipse, features a collection of eclipse data such as the amount of exposure per location, traffic analytics and more.

An estimated 1.85 to 7.4 million people will be traveling to the path of totality. The rapid population influx presents a unique challenge for national public safety agencies as well as state and local governments across the cities and towns where eclipse enthusiasts are expected to gather.

Aside from potential record-breaking traffic jams, many are anticipating a significant strain on emergency resources and infrastructure (both physical and digital).

Oregon in the Hot Seat. As the first state to experience the eclipse, Oregon is in the hot seat. It is not only one of the most populous states in the path of totality, but is expected to receive the most out-of-state visitors as well.

During this unprecedented event, government agencies are going to need real-time situational awareness of personnel; resources; and infrastructures, such as freeways, in highly populated areas. Knowing who and what are at risk is critical, but knowing where when it matters most enables a cohesive response to any situation that might arise.

In recognition of those needs, Oregon has developed the RAPTOR app (Real-time Assessment and Planning Tool for Oregon). Leveraging Esri technology, the online government resource adds the path of totality and other eclipse event layers to its situational awareness data.

RAPTOR also allows users to quickly and easily digitize information from these events and put them onto maps, providing agencies with up-to-the-moment info on everything from traffic to weather.

Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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