More than 200 raging wildfires have been spreading across the British Columbia interior this week, forcing over 14,000 people out of their homes by evacuation orders.
Vancouver Island location-based search software company Echosec put together a live BC wildfire & closure map tool to help friends and families in the interior stay up-to-date on fire whereabouts and emergency messages.
The mapping tool is made using geographic information system ArcGIS to combine data from different BC emergency services. Echosec is also aggregating public social media posts, from channels such as Twitter, to provide photo updates on road conditions. Users can view the map in both mobile and desktop versions to make sure they are getting the most out of the tool.
Echosec developer Neil Johnston started developing the map late Sunday night in an effort to help his parents figure out the best routes to evacuate their home in Williams Lake. “The wildfires are starting to knock out internet access, so it’s going to be a community effort to get this information out to people who need it” says Mike Anderson, one of Echosec’s founders.
Echosec hopes the map will help all residents, whether in the process of evacuating or waiting to hear recommendations from the authorities, stay up to date on the size, location, and status of the wildfires ravaging through BC. In a time when every smart-phone owner has the power to upload real-time updates on the area around them, developers have a unique opportunity to combine that data with data from the authorities to create tools like the the Echosec BC wildfire and road closure map.