The powerful mapping technology so widely available is something of a field of dreams. Build it, and individuals and organizations will come. One mapping technology, Google Earth, has been used to show the extent of ocean pollution, create the world’s most comprehensive seafloor map, help save endangered languages, and even reunite a mother and son.
This summer it is tracking the wildfires blackening hundreds of thousands of acres across the American West. The map is part of the Google Crisis Response platform, which provides tools for collecting and sharing emergency information.
On the wildfire map, users can choose filters that show public alerts and locate shelters for humans and animals. They can zoom in on active fire perimeters and find information on specific fires. They can check the fire weather outlook and check evacuations area and fire vicinity.
Emergency responders can create public alerts, help locate missing people, create custom maps, share data, and collaborate with volunteers, co-workers and partner organizations.
Next: Esri Maps Fires around the Globe
Esri, another company using geospatial technology for a variety of innovative purposes, has also created a US Wildfires Map with links to fire centers, news and weather. It does not have the emergency responder tools, but it does provide links and images not available on the Google site.
The Esri map not only gives a detailed picture of U.S. wildfires, it also shows the location of fires around the globe. Being able to see fire zones scattered around the world and clustered in dozens of locations gives an entirely different sense of the scope of wildfires.
It is also a sobering reminder of what scientists have been predicting for years. We are in the middle of the extreme weather hazards they warned would become common.
The technology makes it difficult to ignore our impacts on land and sea. We can use it to spur action.
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