Online Mapping Helps Firefighters
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has teamed with federal firefighting agencies and private companies including ESRI, Redlands, Calif., to form the Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group (GeoMAC). The team will assist in prioritizing the use of wildfire suppression resources and providing for public and firefighter safety. GeoMAC's initial goal has been to implement an Internet-based mapping application that enables firefighting coordination centers and incident command teams to access online maps of current fire locations and perimeters using standard Web browsers. Fire perimeter data is updated daily based on input from incident intelligence sources, global positioning system (GPS) data and satellite imagery. The GeoMAC Web site enables firefighters in remote locations to manipulate map information displays, zoom in and out to display fire information at different scales and levels of detail, and download and print hard copy information for use on the fire line.
The fire maps have relational databases in which the user can display data layers about individual fires such as current acreage, fuel types, aircraft hazard maps and other critical fire analysis information. The website (http://wildfire.usgs.gov) is also accessible to the media and the public. Fire recovery teams will use the website to retrieve fire boundaries and other associated geospatial data to help assess damage and plan remedial measures.
GeoMAC is based at the USGS Rocky Mountain Mapping Center in Denver, Colo. Its staff includes technical experts from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESRI, IBM and Sun Microsystems are also part of this effort.