From May 29th to June 7th, FEMA conducted the Shaken Fury 2019 response and recovery exercise in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Northern Command, state and local governments, and the private sector. The exercise involved a series of tabletop, functional, and full-scale exercises to address a 7.7 magnitude earthquake scenario along the southwest segment of the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) near Memphis, Tennessee, affecting Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

This is the first time the exercise was driven from GIS in the beginning and FEMA GIS worked tirelessly to prepare for the exercise. In fact, efforts began about a year prior. The FEMA’s Modeling Team started with models identifying which scenario would cause damage in different locations. Later, they took over coordination with the NEIC, USGS, and FEMA’s Planning Team. They also completed the Hazus analysis in September 2018.

More recently, on April 30th to May 1st, FEMA conducted a two-day long compression seminar and GIS workshop for the Shaken Fury exercise. During the seminar, each of the involved regions reviewed their plans, demonstrated their story maps and templates, discussed their coordination efforts with other regions and FEMA headquarters, and provided the status of Collection Plan updates and how they would be incorporated into regional plans. The group worked on reviewing standardized map products typically developed for earthquakes, suggested improvements, and discussed some of the challenges they anticipate such as static maps, limited time to innovate, and a lack of implementation of standardized symbology. The group also reviewed the initial draft framework for roles and responsibilities for improved coordination and to reduce duplicating efforts. They evaluated the scenario timeline and sources for modeling and analytical products such as USGS and HAZUS products, Earthquake Exposure Modeling, and Earthquake Journal. They presented on efforts for geo-enabling and sharing regional plans and highlighted successes and best practices.


During the seminar, the group developed several GIS-specific goals and objectives relating to production, information and data management, and coordination for the exercise.

Production Goals: In terms of overarching production goals, the group aimed to test and evaluate an improved RFI tracker and process, validate that the production and dissemination management workflow in the geospatial library is accurate and effective, and develop a clear timeline, workflow, and assigned lanes of effort for production and delivery to support lifesaving operations. At the regional level, the group planned to identify GIS requirements from states and support priority needs from states, test and evaluate the improved processes for management of the Force Laydown, and develop and use a regional journal to support decision-maker information needs. At the NRCC level, they planned to aggregate regional journals for an HQ view of regional operations, observe NRCC GIS operations and assess areas for improved production processes, and implement management efforts to reduce redundancy.

Information and Data Management Goals: These included validating that information and data needed to fulfill leadership and operator requests are easily identifiable, readily accessible, up-to-date, and accurate as well as identifying and tracking information and data gaps and areas for improved management.

Coordination Goals:  The group planned to implement clear and concise internal and external coordination as well as identify and communicate limiting factors in effective internal and external coordination.

During the subsequent virtual training on May 24th, the group presented outcomes from the two-day compression seminar to the broader FEMA Geospatial Cadre. GIS Staff briefed on both short-term goals, such as plans for the Shaken Fury exercise as well as more long-term goals to address common challenges faced by the group.  Two Tiger Teams were created to address priority issues identified with the goal of testing improved approaches during the Exercise.  The small Tiger Teams—one for updating the Force Laydown Map and the second for addressing the need for an improved RFI System—have already made significant progress and may be a model for tackling future needs.

While Shaken Fury is an exercise and not a real-world disaster, it has allowed FEMA GIS to strengthen its relationship with local communities and work with them to establish plans and procedures for future use in the event of a disaster.  These efforts ensure that both FEMA and the communities are prepared and have the skills to effectively respond to disasters.

GIS in action during the Exercise: Special thanks to CUSEC for sharing several of the below images!

For a full list of GIS products, data layers, and web maps created for the exercise, click here:

FEMA GIS Resources for Shaken Fury NLE