Getting Started with SpotOnResponse

One of the primary functions of the California Clearinghouse is to facilitate the collection and sharing of scientific and engineering information after a major California earthquake among government agencies, academia, and nonprofit organizations. The Clearinghouse will 1) coordinate field investigations of various researchers; 2) facilitate the sharing of observations through both meetings and the website; and 3) notify disaster responders of any critical observations or results. Clearinghouse agencies have recently been exploring the use of technology to help in facilitation and coordination, and the ShakeOut 2012 Exercise is an opportunity to explore the use of several of these tools. The Clearinghouse is using the Unified Incident Command and Decision Support (XchangeCore) framework to share data among agencies and the Clearinghouse itself. In addition, the Clearinghouse is using SpotOnResponse as a tool to visualize what is happening in the field, including who is where in the field, and where preliminary observations have been made. SpotOnResponse allows you, once registered, to make these brief observations and to upload several file types. In addition, once you are logged in to SpotOnResponse you can also access the USGS Field Tool which has questions specifically related to geology and tsunami impacts. The brief overview below provides more detail on SpotOnResponse:

For the ShakeOut 2012 exercise, visit to get to SpotOnResponse. SpotOnResponse is a web based application and will run on any web browser. There may be slight differences in appearance due to each browser. (the screenshots below are from Google Chrome)

This overview is broken down into three sections. Use the links below to jump to the desired section.
Logging In
Area of Interest and Setting Location
Creating a point of action or Responding to an Incident

Logging In

The login page is shown below. If you already have a username and password, now would be the time to login. If you do not have one yet, click “Click here to register for access” to create an account. You will be prompted to fill out your user information.
login page
There are a few terms that need to be defined:

  • Area of Interest – the area around the user where Incidents will be shown
  • Incident – an event/situation that a user feels should be investigated or brought to attention
  • Update – for any Incident, additional information or comments can be associated with the Incident

listing page
Once logged in, the first page will be the listing page. This is the main page for SpotOnResponse. There are a few things to point out on this page:
Each number corresponds with the number on the figure above.

  1. Layers – This button contorls what you see on the map. You can toggle to see team members in the area, polygons (shake maps, etc), Incidents, Alerts, Updates, Traffic, Weather, and Icons.
  2. Settings – This button will allow you to change your information on your profile or to set your location.
  3. Create New Item of Interest – This button allows for the creation of one of many types of alerts, incidents, or labels that can be placed on the map for others to check out.
  4. Center Map – This button will center the map back to the Area of Interest.
  5. Refresh – This button will refresh SpotOnResponse.

The Red and Yellow bars are in your immediate and general area, based on your Area of Interest.

Area of Interest and Setting Location

Click on the Settings button in the top left corner and select profile. The profile page is shown below.
profile page
Here you can edit your personal information along with the organization you are affiliated with. Here, the password can be changed as well. There is also a field that asks for the Area of Interest in miles. The Area of Interest (AOI) will be the area around the user on the SpotOnResponse map where they will see incidents (in this case the AOI is set for 100 miles). Anything outside the AOI will not be shown. You can always change the AOI to see more incidents. Once you are done changing your information or setting the AOI, click submit and the listings page will be brought back up.

On the same settings button, there is also an option to set your location.
profile page
If the location on the SpotOnResponse map does not accurately reflect the your position, your location can be set manually by selecting to turn off the GPS on the top left corner. There are three options for setting your location. If the latitude and longitude of the location is known, simply input it in to the fields. If they are not known, you can look up the coordinates by searching for the address and the fields for lat and long will be populated automatically. The third option is to double click on the map and the lat/long fields will be populated. Once the new location is satisfactory, click “Set Location” and the new location will be saved. Note in the picture above, the original location has the marker set in San Francisco. The new location where the marker will be placed is Oakland.

Creating an Item of Interest or Responding to an Incident

Once the location and Area of Interest is set, the map will be populated with Incidents within the Area of Interest. By going to Layers button, different features can be toggled on the map.
The red and yellow bars at the bottom of the screen are all the Incidents within the Area of Interest. An incident will be red if it is within two miles of your current position.

To create an Incident/Item of interest
profile page
Selecting the create new Item of Interest button in the top left corner will begin the process to create a new Item of Interest. Items of Interest include:

  • Incidents*
  • Action Plan*
  • Alert (CAP)
  • Command
  • Hospital/Health
  • ICS Forms
  • Infrastructure
  • Resources
  • Situation Report
  • SOP & Task
  • Shelters

*For ShakeOut 2012 only Incidents and Action Plans will be used

The process to create an Incident is the same as creating any other Item of Interest. Fill out the subject line and description of the item. The location for the incident will be the location where you are making the Incident is located. If you is not near actual location of the incident, a change in location will be required.(See setting location). Once the incident/item of interest is created it will be populated on the map.

Responding to an Incident
Clicking on any of the Incidents in the list will bring up the page for that Incident. Also, selecting a marker on the map anad clicking on details will bring up the Incident page. In this example, the Zynga incident was selected.
profile page
The first thing that should be noted is that SpotOnResponse will highlight a route from your location to the Incident. Also there are several important buttons in the top menu.

  1. Observation – this button will bring up options to add an update to this incident, set your location, and check-in
  2. External Reports – here you will be able to access field tools and forms from other organizations (ie. USGS, EERI, etc)
  3. Back – this button will bring you back to the listings page

The blue bars towards the bottom are Action Updates. These updates range from noting that someone has checked in or that someone has made a comment on this incident. These updates are organized from the top to bottom, top being the earliest and the bottom being the most recent. The map also shows these updates as a blue markers with a “U”.

To check-in, click on the observation button and select check-in. The check-in will appear at the bottom of the Action Updates as you join the team.

To add an Action Update, click on the observation button and select update. The following screen will appear.
profile page
Once the fields are filled out, there is an option to attach a file or URL to the update. The files need to be the local device. After the update has been filled out, click “submit” and the update will appear at the bottom of the Action Update list. If a file is attached to an update, it will appear with the update as seen below.
profile page
Just as each incident on the listing page had its own page, so does each Action Update. This page shows the details and description about the update. The files attached to the update will also be shown.

Finally, if the Incident has particular interest with other organizations like a ground failure for the USGS or structural collapse for EERI, there are external reports that can be filled out. By clicking on the external reports button in the top left corner, there are currently a few forms available for data collection. Here is an example of the USGS Field Tools form. More information on this tool can be found here.
profile page