With more intense, destructive, and frequent disasters, the need for agencies to develop risk assessments, emergency management processes, and mitigation plans is greater than ever. At the same time, organizations are reducing staff and cutting expenses which provides a challenge in getting multiple staff members trained and up to speed in a timely fashion. Agencies don’t have the flexibility, staff coverage, time, or funds to send staff to out-of-state conferences as quickly and often as they would like. The demand for on-site training is growing because of this but the availability of such services often does not meet the need. In addition, standardized courses sometimes don’t address local circumstances and therefore customized programming is becoming of greater interest.


The Polis Center offers a variety of training and education opportunities in emergency management and disaster mitigation, providing on-site training to make it easier for you. We specialize in the application of geographic information systems tools and methods that support disaster risk assessment and mitigation planning. We also design education programs that reflect the processes and workflows unique to individual communities and organizations.

Natural Hazard Risk Modeling and Mitigation Training

The Polis Center has extensive experience in the development and delivery of workshops that offer hands-on experience in the application of geospatial tools and methods that support the analysis of risks and mitigation options related to natural hazards.  Many of our workshops are customized to explore hazards and resources unique to the region in which they are taught or the audience for which they are intended.

Examples of Polis experience include:

  • Designed and offered instruction for multiple FEMA Hazus-MH courses including E190: Introduction to ArcGIS for Emergency Managers, E313: Basic Hazus-MH, E172: Hazus-MH for Floods, E174: Hazus-MH for Earthquakes, E170: Hazus-MH for Hurricanes, E317: Comprehensive Data Management for Hazus-MH and E296: Using Hazus-MH for Risk Assessment, and E176: Using Hazus-MH for Floodplain Management.
  • Developed multiple virtual Hazus-MH courses for the Federal Emergency Management Agency including Hazus-MH for Decision MakersHazus-MH Overview and InstallationIntroduction to Hazus-MH to Assess Losses from a Riverine Flood HazardHazus-MH Flood Model Output and ApplicationsIntegrating User Supplied Hazard Data into the Hazus-MH Flood ModelIntroduction to Using Hazus-MH for Hurricane Loss EstimationIntroduction to Using Hazus-MH for Earthquake Loss Estimation and Introduction to the Hazus-MH Comprehensive Data Management System.   Each virtual course was developed in collaboration with Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and offered thru the ESRI Virtual Campus.
  • Delivered dozens of Hazus-related workshops and presentations in the State of Indiana in support of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Topics include mitigation, response and recovery applications for flood and earthquake hazards.

Examples of customized training on hazard risk identification and planning:

  • The Polis Center, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center, developed and piloted a series of four workshops in 2020-21 for FEMA Region X.  This work has been funded through the FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner program. Workshop participants develop capacity to leverage a variety of geospatial tools, methods and best practices to mitigate the social and economic impacts of flood, earthquake and tsunami hazards in the FEMA Region X states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Modules are customized to address hazards specific to the region as well as the data and expert resources available to support the mitigation process.  Each workshop has been offered numerous times both virtually and on-site in 2022 and 2023 with future offerings planned.
  • The Polis Center, in collaboration with its partner at the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center, developed a series of three customized workshops for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. The workshops explore the use of geospatial technologies, tools and methods to mitigate physical, social and economic risks resulting from the hurricane winds and flooding that frequently impact the State of Florida.  They leverage Florida data and expert resources with the intent of providing participants the ability to immediately implement the lessons learned. Multiple offerings of these workshops have been successfully delivered with the most recent round scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.
  • The Polis Center, in collaboration with its partner at the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center, completed a NOAA funded project for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division that explored current and future risks from hurricane related winds and floods that could impact the communities of Tybee Island and Hinesville.  This project occurred in 2020 and 2021 and built on previous work conducted by the project team for the state. Project components included geospatial modeling of over 100 wind and flooding scenarios as well as outreach in the form of an infographic and workshops designed to empower participants with the ability to apply the results of the study to their community planning efforts.

To learn more, contact Kevin Mickey.