An Interview with Paul Doherty, National Alliance for Public Safety GIS

Yosemite Search and Rescue, Public Safety GIS and Backcountry Preparedness Ep. 011

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Paul Doherty aka "Pauly from the Bronx"

Release Date: June 24th, 2019

In this episode, I interview Paul Doherty with the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS. Paul and I had an interesting conversation and we covered a wide range of topics including; Yosemite search and rescue, illegal marijuana grow site detection in the park, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as it applies to search and rescue, Paul's childhood growing up in the Bronx, his time in college and how to be best prepared when heading into the backcountry. I hope you enjoy this episode and thanks for tuning in.


National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation (NAPSGF):

The NAPSGF works with federal, state, municipal and tribal organizations to assist with public safety and homeland security GIS integration and management.


Interactive Map: Incorporating GIS into Search and Rescue


Paul's Geo CV: 

Hometown - Throggs Neck, NY

This photo shows where I was born and raised, Throggs Neck, Bronx, NY. The Long Island Sound and Pelham Bay Park provided a great escape from the urban landscape. Road trips with my parents and involvement with the Boy Scouts of America exposed me to maps and atlases at an early age. I knew I loved maps but had no idea where it would take me.



2001 to 2005 B.S. SUNY ESF

State University of New York at Syracuse - College of Environmental Science and Forestry. I studied Environmental Biology and spent 99% of my free time hiking and applying my coursework outdoors. This is also where I took my first GIS (geographic information systems) course using ArcView 3x. I did not know what I was going to use it for (other than downloading gps data) until I started my summer job. Also through our hiking club's community service projects I developed a passion for problem solving and helping others.



2005 to 2007 M.S. Hofstra University and biologist for County and State agencies

Studied the geography of human and predator disturbance of endangered shorebirds. This is where I first understood the importance of mapping your data. Without maps, I would not have made critical observations about patterns of behavior (e.g. areas with high human visitation allowed birds to adapt to disturbance, areas with high fox activity were more likely to abandon their nest).



Interdiction of Illegal Cultivation

My entry into Public Safety and GIS was through supporting interdiction of large-scale illicit cultivation of marijuana on public lands. We used investigation data to detect, interdict, and convict using geospatial intelligence. This ultimately led to a successful prevention program, greatly reducing the resource impact and public safety risk in several national parks.



2008 to 2012 NPS Park Ranger

Yosemite National Park - I used the GIS skills I developed as a biologist and applied them to two inherently spatial problems in public safety. Illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and search and rescue. I was a law enforcement ranger, intel specialist jailor, emergency medical technician, search and rescue technician, GIS Specialist, and Ph.D. student all at the same time. This is where I fell in love with Public Safety GIS!



2009 to 2014 PhD at University of California, Merced

Search and Rescue is an inherently spatial problem and geographic information systems (GIS) are a perfect fit for making decisions on how to prepare for, respond, or even reduce the number of incidents. My dissertation title was "The Applications of GISystems to Wilderness Search and Rescue". This is where I developed my skills in spatial analysis, teaching, and interdisciplinary research. I also helped start the Search and Rescue GIS Working Group during my time here.



2011 to 2015 Esri Disaster Response Program

With the Esri Public Safety Team I worked with Local, State, National, and International agencies across the world to create best practices for using GIS in Disaster Response and support them in time of need ( ). This was a great opportunity to see the diverse ways that GIS can be applied to Public Safety across the world.


2014 - University of Redlands

I accepted an adjunct position to teach GIS Courses to undergraduates and graduate students: GIS Solutions and GIS Design Studio. This allowed me to further refine my teaching skills and learn more about the concepts of GIS for Emergency Management.


2015 to present - Johns Hopkins University

I am an adjunct instructor for the JHU Geographic Information Systems program, designing and teaching AS.430.621 GIS for Emergency Management (online). This has allowed me to train +100 students in the basic of GIS in Emergency Management and watch them go out and make a real difference in their communities. This has shown me the importance of investing in our future and building capacity (versus doing it yourself all the time).

Searching for illegal marijuana grows in Yosemite

Paul in hiking mode

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