Reliable Data in Times of Crisis
Quick Index for this Post:
- CAL FIRE State of California data.
- Live KUSI TV coverage from San Diego.
- San Diego Union Tribune map mashup.
- Calfires.com information portal.
- KPBS google mashup.
Commentary: This is a very rare departure from the blog’s theme, but seems justifiable, given the urgency of the situation. Yesterday I linked to a fire status mashup on another blog that now appears to be sponsored by KPBS, complete with KML file for display in google earth. At the same time, the San Diego Union Tribune had a similar mashup, but with conflicting data. Finally, the Calfires.com web site now has a mashup. I haven’t taken the time to further analyze this latest site, but a friend and I both compared the first two sites yesterday, only to confirm that the sites had very different boundaries depicted for “voluntary” and “mandatory” evacuation zones.
All this data begs the question: how are people to determine authoritative and ACCURATE sources of data in such situations? Particularly when multiple “trusted brands” put out such information, it becomes literally a matter of life and death for the people in these areas. Even a quarter inch on a cute little map can affect thousands of human lives. It would be valuable indeed for sites like CAL FIRE [www.fire.ca.gov] to be better advertised in cases like this. This is the one site where we can find fire status figures. As of October 24, 2007, 04:34 pm:<blockquote>
San Diego County Witch Fire – 196,420 acres – 1% contained Poomacha Fire – 25,000 acres – no containment Rice Fire – 7,500 acres – 10% contained Harris Fire – 73,000 acres – 10% contained Horno/Ammo Fire – 7,500 acres – 50% contained Wilcox Fire – 200 acres – 80% contained Cajon Fire – 350 acres – 90% contained McCoy Fire – 300 acres – 95% contained Coronado Hills Fire – 300 acres – 100% contained
Los Angeles County Ranch Fire – 51,337 acres – 45% contained Rosa Fire – 411 acres – 70% contained Canyon Fire – 4,500 acres – 85% contained Magic Fire – 2,824 acres – 100% contained Buckweed Fire – 38,356 acres – 100% contained Meadowridge Fire – 20 acres - 50% contained
San Bernardino County Slide Fire – 5,119 acres – 0% contained Grass Valley Fire - 1,000 acres – 0% contained Martin Fire – 75 acres – 75% contained Walker Fire – 160 acres 100% contained
Orange County Santiago Fire – 19,191 acres – 50% contained
Santa Barbara County Sedgewick Fire – 710 acres – 100% contained
Riverside County Roca Fire – 270 acres – 100% contained </blockquote>Finally, the webcast of live KUSI coverage in San Diego sets an ideal example for the way local broadcasters can help to solve this dilemma. In times of emergency, the role of the local broadcast franchise rapidly comes to the forefront and there is no compelling reason why virtually every television broadcast on the planet should not be accessible on the web. As an aside, it is a red herring to cite advertising concerns, because the bottom line is the the advertisers on any station will subsequently ALSO reach all the web viewers. Every TV channel on the planet should be on the web 24/7; it extends the reach of advertising and helps to make information markets more perfectly transparent and effective. That’s what markets are supposed to be all about.