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We will be performing server maintenance beginning Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 at 8:00 AM EST. Service is expected to be restored by 9:00 AM EST. However, this could run over. During this time Independent Study exams will not be available. Please contact us if you experience any issues outside of this maintenance window.

Notice: Independent Study Exams now require a FEMA Student Identification (SID) Number. If you do not yet have a SID, register for one today: Please do not contact the Independent Study program office as they are unable to provide assistance with these requests.

If you have an inquiry regarding the FEMA Independent Study Program, NIMS or other Emergency Management Institute (EMI) related requests such as: requests for certificates, transcripts, online test scores/results, please contact the FEMA Independent Study program office at 301-447-1200 or email for further assistance. Please do not contact the FEMA SID Help Desk as they are unable to provide assistance with these requests.

IS-103: Geospatial Information Systems Specialist

Course Date


Course Overview

This independent study course prepares students to successfully assume the role and responsibilities of a Geospatial Information System (GIS) Specialist during a disaster situation. As they complete this course, students will learn how to use their GIS skills to support other members of a Joint Field Office (JFO) disaster response and recovery team and successfully meet the responsibilities assigned to them. Students will also learn what types of products need to be produced and what procedures must be followed to ensure that products are produced correctly and in a timely manner.

Course Objectives:

  • Recognize the role a GIS Specialist performs while supporting a response and recovery operation
  • Identify likely sources of information and data within FEMA and the emergency management community
  • Identify the types of products commonly needed by FEMA programs and decision makers during an operation
  • Recognize best practices for establishing and maintaining data flow, products and timelines during an incident
  • Recognize how to appropriately handle and protect licensed, sensitive, or personal data
  • Recognize how to use Remote Sensing products

Primary Audience

This course is designed primarily for GIS Specialists newly employed with FEMA or other emergency response organizations. Students should already have a basic working knowledge of standard GIS software applications.


Prior to completing this course, it is highly recommended that the student have:

  • Opened the Geospatial Information System Specialist (GISP) task book, or
  • Held the equivalent position in the NRCC/RRCC (when developed)
Students must also have basic geospatial knowledge and skills, including:
  • Knowledge of how to make a map and other geospatial products
  • Knowledge of basic analytics
  • Knowledge of the basic fundamentals of cartography and geospatial terminology
  • The ability to use standard GIS software and equipment such as:
    • ESRI’s ArcGIS software, including Spatial Analyst
    • Adobe products
    • Google Earth
    • Large format printers
    • Microsoft Office suite
    • Handheld GPS devices
    • Modeling and decision support software such as HAZUS
    • Computers
Note: Students may come to FEMA with prior geospatial training and knowledge, or it may be developed through on-the-job training or courses.



Course Length:

2 hours
Take This Course
Take Final Exam
  • Test questions are scrambled to protect test integrity
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