The eastern U.S. is no stranger to brutal winter storms such as the one expected to pummel the region this weekend, but coping with such weather is a far cry today from what it once was.

Not only has weather prediction evolved considerably over the years, giving affected areas more advance warning, but predictive analytics and other advances in geographic information systems (GIS) are helping governments, communities and businesses prepare to respond in real-time as needs arise.

“In the case of an impending snowstorm, what the technology provides is a real-time view of the jurisdictional areas affected — whether state, city or community — and the ability to drill down into the highest fidelity you need,” said Russ Johnson, director of Public Safety and Homeland Security for Esri, which makes the ArcGIS mapping platform.

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