An interactive map of B.C. wildfire conditions. (Neil Johnston)

Interactive map paints B.C. wildfire picture

Vancouver man combines wildfires, tweets and road closures

An enterprising B.C. man has created a one-stop shop for all wildfire information across the province.

Neil Johnston of Vancouver made the interactive map that shows fires, evacuation orders and alerts, highway closures and crowdsourced tweets all together.

RELATED: Wildfires burn 78,000 hectares across B.C.

Johnston, who works at tech company Echosec said that the idea was born out struggling to make sense of all the different information on fires and road closures.

“I grew up in Soda Creek, and had just checked the latest information on [the Emergency Management BC site] and saw that my folks were under an evacuation order,” he said.”My partner and I were trying to find routes that could potentially let us navigate my Mom and Dad to the coast [and] I pretty quickly discovered that it was really hard to correlate the different information sources; active wide fires on one map, road closures on another, and traffic incidents.”

RELATED: Wildfire evacuees frustrated with Red Cross waits

And so a first draft of the map was born. Johnston then got the idea to listen to the radio so he could get a sense of what kinds of questions listeners wanted answered.

“[My company] provided me with access to our ArcGIS Online account and I rebuild the map in that technology,” Johnston said. “One of the biggest requests was for wind direction, so I tried to add that. It’s not perfect, but hopefully it helps. I had the idea of adding drive BC highway cams at about 5:30 this morning, and had that working by about 9.”

VIDEO: Devastating footage from Boston Flats

Having family in rural communities makes Johnston cognizant of the challenges with disseminating information

I think the biggest problem we’ll be running into is that while more and more of this information is being pushed online, a lot of rural BC residents don’t have that access still,” he said. “Which means the onus is on those of us who do, to keep them in the know, by cell and landline, as the situation develops.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UFV Town & Gown event raises $85,000 in one night; $200,000 in 2017

Supporters from all over the Fraser Valley and beyond gathered in Abbotsford for the third annual Town & Gown fundraising dinner.

GW Graham grinds out playoff win over Argyle Pipers

The AA football quarter-final saw the Grizzlies outlast the Pipers 21-7 at Exhibition Stadium.

Heavy downpours expected in parts of Metro Vancouver

Heavy rain will begin to ease off Sunday evening as the frontal system moves south out of the area

Police investigate string of overnight fires in North Delta

Suspected arson caused damage to vehicles, signage in the area, Delta Police say

Chilliwack boy drops puck at Canucks fight cancer game

Carter Johnston, 11, fighting osteosarcoma and has a growing, prosthetic leg

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Drones take off to search for missing North Okanagan women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Crash shuts down Highway 91 in Richmond for hours

The stretch of highway was closed for more than 6 hours due to a multi-vehicle accident

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Most Read