Google Maps will display wildfire locations, emergency contacts

Google Maps will soon launch a new filter that shows the location of active wildfires. Beyond that, when you click on a fire, it will display the emergency resources related to it.

“It is also important to associate this geospatial information with things like emergency phone numbers, emergency websites, evacuation information,” said Vanessa Schneider, who works with the team at response to the crises of Google who designed this tool. “So whenever that information is available, we try to make it appear in the Google Maps layer itself. “

Schneider said Google has been working on mapping and providing resources for all kinds of natural disasters over the past few years. This new filter will show major fires around the world.

For the United States, however, the layer will be able to show smaller wildfires thanks to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). This Boise-based organization includes multiple government agencies and aggregates national fire data, which can be viewed or used by anyone (including Google).

But fires can move quickly. Jessica Gardetto works for the Bureau of Land Management at NIFC, and said that while Google’s map layer is a good tool, it is not perfect.

“These perimeters / maps are downloaded from Open Source NIFC data. Since forest fires move very quickly, the Google layer may not reflect the most recent locations of the fire perimeter and therefore the public should always monitor and work with local law enforcement and fire officials for potential evacuations and other public safety issues, ”she wrote in a statement. .

Beyond that, Google won’t be able to update maps in an area where cell phone towers are down, so this is another reason to contact local staff for help when that is possible.

Expect the new feature to appear in Google Maps’ “filters” in the coming weeks. Just look for the section that has a symbol that looks like stacked pages and options to display traffic and terrain.

Schneider said users will likely see more additions to Google Maps layers in the years to come.

“We’re excited to bring more ‘crisis sensitivity’ information to the Google Maps app just to really find ways to help people navigate the real world and know when these events are happening and how that might affect where they are. navigation to or to where they are heading next.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with the support of affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Public broadcasting company.

About Jerilyn Graves

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