EBA Engineering Helps Officials Harness Technology to Manage the Democratic National Convention

As thousands gathered in Philadelphia last week for the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC), the City put an ArcGIS platform and real-time situational awareness portal—developed collaboratively with geospatial consultants geographIT, a division of EBA Engineering, Inc. (EBA)—silently into action. Behind the scenes, technology was working around the clock to collect data that helped organizers keep events on track and convention-goers safe.

“The portal ensures that all of our emergency response teams can view the same real-time information displayed on an interactive web map,” said Samantha Phillips, Philadelphia’s Director of Emergency Management. “It is hard to imagine coordinating a citywide response to events now without this tool.”

Since April, EBA has been working with Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), led by Phillips, on a multipart project to enhance the OEM’s operations through GIS and real-time data tracking. After the project kicked off, the priority shifted quickly to deploying as much functionality as possible to support the DNC.

“The most critical task was standing up a GIS environment using Esri’s ArcGIS platform that OEM staff operates in the city’s Emergency Operations Center and participating agencies can use at any time, 24 hours a day, from any location,” said Andrew Smart, a senior GIS analyst for EBA and project manager for this task.

The team was able to deploy a robust system quickly—a system that agencies both in the Emergency Operations Center and in the field were armed with to support the massive DNC efforts.

“Other cities have developed similar technologies, but not to this capacity and in such a short timeframe,” said Smart.

The system combines static spatial information, such as event planning layers and security layouts, with real-time data like emergency vehicle locations, calls for service, and traffic conditions. The system also maps selected social media posts, such as Twitter feeds, by filtering key words. Staff can access this data from anywhere on their cellphones or tablets.

With millions of data points processed by the system each day, users can see constant streams of real-time information that help officials monitor and respond to any situation, from a large protest to a traffic backup or bus breakdown.

“This facilitates a coordinated response to events and emergencies that arise, and it provides a common operating picture for communicating what is transpiring in real time as events unfold,” said Phillips.

So when heavy thunderstorms rolled into the area even before the convention kicked off, City officials and emergency staff had access to crucial logistical information from the get-go to monitor events as they developed.

“Security may be a main concern on everyone’s minds, and for good reason. But the system’s goal is even larger than just security. It aims for total situational awareness,” said Smart.

EBA supported the system on-site during the DNC and will now work with the City to enhance the system for future large events and emergency operations.

Other applications currently under development include a mobile tracking application to help locate OEM staff during deployments, as well as an “event tracking and creation” widget for Esri’s Web Application Builder, which will be used to create and update the status of each event from start to finish.

“It’s really amazing what technology can do to enhance the way we capture and use the data all around us. Our work with the OEM for last week’s convention has really demonstrated just what our capabilities are nowadays,” said EBA President & CEO Rizwan Siddiqi, PE.

To learn more about the project, see


About geographIT, a division of EBA Engineering, Inc.

geographIT specializes in designing and implementing innovative geospatial technology solutions for desktop, web, and mobile environments using Esri and open source technology. Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this division of EBA Engineering offers enterprise GIS consulting and system design, custom software development, and implementation services. geographIT has provided state-of-the-art, innovative GIS technology solutions for more than 25 years.

EBA Engineering acquired geographIT in January 2016. In its 35 years in business, EBA has grown to 250 employees in five offices, providing a wide range of engineering services to public, quasi-public, and private clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic, but its focus on excellence remains unchanged. EBA is listed among Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms for 2016. For more information about EBA, visit


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