36 Comments

Summary:

I was in San Diego this week, and the wildfires there were extraordinary. Hundreds of thousands of people — normal, suburban, it-can’t-happen-to-me people — were displaced, stuck on roadways and desperate for information. The nature of the emergency — multiple fires, moving quickly — meant information […]

I was in San Diego this week, and the wildfires there were extraordinary. Hundreds of thousands of people — normal, suburban, it-can’t-happen-to-me people — were displaced, stuck on roadways and desperate for information. The nature of the emergency — multiple fires, moving quickly — meant information was often conflicting.

Traditional media have been hopelessly outdated in their coverage. We tracked the fires using the National Weather Service’s reflectivity index, which proved far more accurate. But the enterprising folks at the L.A. Fire Department found a better way: they’ve been issuing frequent updates using Twitter.

Google Maps mashups are being usd to provide a relatively current look at data. Some news sources, whose traditional web sites are flooded and broken, have resorted to Google Maps’ new And for homes without power, mobile handsets are making it possible for people to get details on where to go.

There are robust systems available for emergency rescue teams that distribute data reliably during emergencies. And we have the Emergency Alert System to warn us on radio.

But today’s end user demands more than just a radio broadcast. As Wired points out, Twitter subscribers can mimic this model with a cell phone to receive quick updates.

In this era of personalization and mobility, it’s great to see an online community putting the latest tools to work. This combination of portable devices, mashups, and real-time status updates gives us a warning system for the masses.

Related from NewTeeVee: California Fires: Tragic and very real reality show

Photo originally uploaded by Bernard-SD to Flickr.

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  1. Rodger Raderman Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    This is Rodger at Veeker. Last week, Liz Gannes (on NewTeeVee) reported about our relationship with NBC News to power citizen journalism via camera phones. Today, the power of this idea really was demonstrated, as viewers of NBC San Diego sent in over 1000 video and picture messages showing their experiences of the fire. They’re still coming in now.

    NBC has been posting these directly to their Website, and also putting some of them on air.

    http://www.nbcsandiego.com/isee/index.html

    If you want more details, I just made a post to the Veeker blog.

    Our best wishes are with everyone in the affected areas.

  2. My heart reached out for people affected by this fire. God will help us sail through it.

  3. Thanks to all the technologist making tools to inform and help. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

  4. I think that’s the Twitter feed for the City, not the County, but it’s still cool.

    http://twitter.com/LAFD/statuses/352722432

  5. Web 2.0 & The California Fire Crisis (GigaOM) « InnoWeblog – The Perfect Blend of Web 2.0, Viral Marketing, Social Networking, and Online Safety Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    [...] Read the complete story at GigaOM [...]

  6. I live downtown and, thankfully, I wasn’t impacted, but many friends and colleagues were. For everyone seeking info, I direct them to kpbs.org. I must say that their coverage on the web combined with their ceaseless radio coverage has been phenomenal. They have a constantly updated Google map mashup, Twitter feed, and even a Flickr group photo pool. I don’t think I ever watched network news on TV, which was a first for me during an emergency. Again, my hats off to KPBS! I’ll definitely be continuing to support the station with my donations.

  7. Track California Fires via Mashups Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    [...] on mashups being used for this crisis at Google Maps Mania, GigaOm and [...]

  8. I agree with you all – we should pray and hope everyone is well. I have way too many friends – some personal and some professional – who live down in San Diego. This tragedy makes me sick with worry. Many of them I have not been able to contact and that is not a good feeling. All we can do right now is simply pray.

  9. California Fires: The Tragic & Very Real Web Reality Show « NewTeeVee Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    [...] Having already cut the proverbial chord to old TV, I have followed the tragedy almost entirely on the web, via tools such as Twitter and Google Maps. (Related: Web 2.0 & The California Fires.) [...]

  10. Press Gazette Blogs – Fleet Street 2.0 » San Diego station shows how to cover a major disaster online Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    [...] blog GigaOm, though figures that thinks “traditional media have been hopelessly outdated in their coverage.” [...]

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