Esri creates interactive fire map

By on 22 October, 2013

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Esri Australia has created an interactive map of current fires burning throughout New South Wales, in what has become a very early fire season.

The map uses official data from the Rural Fire Service (RFS), State Emergency Service (SES) and other government agencies – including warnings, incident updates, evacuation centres, community meeting notifications, road closures and air quality.

The map also features real-time social media updates, with geo-located photographs, videos and comments from Twitter and Instagram providing an eye-witness account of what’s happening on the ground in affected areas. The map is freely available to government agencies, media and members of the public to access, share and embed in their own websites.

Esri Australia technical specialist Gary Johnson said a team of Australian developers worked with disaster response experts in the United States to quickly create the online map so the community can have key emergency information at their fingertips.

“This is the only real-time map of its kind and it is providing an extremely detailed overview of the situation based on official information from multiple government agencies, as well as crowdsourced social media updates,” Mr Johnson said.

“The map uses the same cutting-edge GIS technology that is used by emergency services groups nationwide – and it is interactive and user-friendly so anyone can quickly grasp what the situation is in their communities.

“We are urging people to contribute to the map through Twitter, to provide their own eye-witness accounts of the situation as it unfolds.”

Members of the public can contribute to the Fire Map by enabling location services on their social media accounts and smartphone; and using fire-related hashtags such as #nswfires.

A similar map can also be viewed on the NSW Rural Fire Service’s website.

With the climate heating up, the fire season we’ve come to expect will continue to grow longer, bringing with it more fires, of higher severity.

Yet, despite these out-of-season extreme weather events, the Abbott government still continues to move backwards on putting a price on carbon – a move that will have serious repercussions in the future, according to experts at the UN.

Separating these events (and any future floods, droughts, storms, and other natural disasters) from talk on climate change is a fallacy, and everyone needs to realise that these events will only increase in regularity and severity, costing not only money, but also lives, say the experts.

You can view Esri’s online fire map here.

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