Overview The PhotoMappers project is in its ninth year of providing situational awareness to federal,…
Early in 2020, long time partner, NAPSG (the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS), requested GISCorps volunteer support for the 2020 wildfire season. Wildfire initial attack is a dynamic period of time where information comes in from many disparate sources. It can be difficult to rely on a single source of information, local-, state- or region-wide. NAPSG developed a Wildfire Initial Attack interface (utilizing ArcGIS Online Experience Builder) to allow volunteers to map newly reported wildfires. Trained volunteers utilized social media reports, official sources, news stories, and other supporting data (remote cameras, weather reports, etc.) to accurately and quickly put fires on a map, particularly during times of high fire danger. Once fires were mapped, the outward-facing application provided vetted information to the public pointing them to the most appropriate source for updates and evacuation notices.
As 2021 comes to a close, the management team has made the decision to end the official GISCorps activation for the project. FireMappers will continue to be supported by NAPSG and many volunteers will continue to contribute in an unofficial capacity. As of December 2021, FireMappers have mapped 2,157 fire starts and the application has garnered over 15.8+ million views! We cannot express enough gratitude to these amazing volunteers and their ongoing commitment.
Twenty-three volunteers were originally recruited for the pilot phase of the project. As the busy season wore on, several new volunteers were rotated in as others needed to move on. More information on the original vision of the project can be found immediately below this update.
As the season continued, NAPSG’s development team made adjustments and automations to the interface so the public could easily find the most up-to-date, relevant safety messages across a wide geographic area. While this project was never intended to replace local emergency notifications, it did help highlight gaps in messaging and information availability during the initial attack phase of a wildfire, particularly when multiple jurisdictions are impacted simultaneously. In 2020, GISCorps volunteers mapped over 1,900 fires during the course of the year, and the map received over 9.5 million views. Volunteers reported a staggering 1,781 hours of contributions.
FireMappers were also featured in an Esri blog post found here.
Based on the obvious interest in the resource, NAPSG requested that volunteers continue with the project in 2021 with a rebranded team name of #FireMappers. Sixteen volunteers chose to continue the effort this season. Based on experiences in 2020, the development team at NAPSG streamlined and automated as much of the workflow as possible by enhancing the public IRWIN feed, but volunteers were still on hand to monitor during red flag weather warnings, particularly areas where IRWIN was not readily utilized.
2021 volunteers: Brigit Anderson, Keith Johnson, Chrissy Livergood Dawn Hutchinson, Stephen Lai, John Schweisinger, Darlene Pardiny, Joseph M. Veneziano, Ingrid Jourgensen, John Watermolen, Shawna Bjorgan, Sandi Mitchell, Monicque Lee, Eric Shreve, Cassie Hansen, and Melanie Moss
2021 Management Team: Tari Martin and Adam Fackler, NAPSG. German Whitley, GISCorps. Rob Neppell, CEDR Digital. With continuing support from Paul Doherty.
2020 – Original Project Announcement
Volunteers Kick Off Long-Term Wildfire Initial Attack Mapping Mission
Long time partner, NAPSG (the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS), has requested GISCorps volunteer support for the 2020 wildfire season. NAPSG has created a Wildfire Initial Attack ArcGIS Online Experience which will serve as the basis for this pilot project.
Wildfire initial attack is a dynamic period of time where information is gathered from disparate sources, and it can be difficult to rely on a single source of information, state- or region-wide. The goal of this project is to have skilled GIS volunteers on stand-by during times of high fire danger (i.e. red flag warnings). Volunteers will work in conjunction with CEDR Digital volunteers who are experts in social media mining. CEDR will help quickly and accurately map and verify wildfire starts based on reports found in the news, chatter on social media, and information from agency sources.
Once mapped, the outward-facing application will provide vetted information to the public pointing them to the best and most appropriate source for updates. The map is not meant to replace agency information. The map is used to help drive the public to the best available source of information. We do this by putting a point on the map where the fire started and link to the agency website and/or agency map whenever this is available. This effort will complement the newly available public IRWIN feed (see the Esri blog post for more information Improve Your Wildfire Maps with These New Layers).
Twenty-three volunteers have been recruited across nine Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACC). Each GACC team will coordinate with each other in Slack on scheduling and mapping during red flag conditions.
The Landing Page built by NAPSG using Esri’s Experience Builder includes:
- A full description of the workflow with links to sources
- Open access to the Initial Attack Survey. While the team hopes to stay on top of all starts during red flag warnings, the Survey is open to all to post new fires if we miss something. A GISCorps member will review/approve ASAP.
- Open access to the Public Map and vetted Public Layer that can be used independently in custom apps. This app is only meant for initial attack information.
- Password-protected access to the Admin App for the pre-vetted GISCorps volunteer team
Volunteers by GACC
- Chrissy Livergood
- Dawn Hutchinson
- John Schweisnger
- Dustin McGrew
- Jonathan Robinson
- Stephen Lai
- Cassie Hansen
- Keith Johnson
- Brigit Anderson
- Ashley Cruz
- Eric Shreve
- Sandi Mitchell
- T. Monicque Lee
- John Watermolen
- Micah Lott
- Bobbi Johnson
- Shawna Bjorgan
- Heather Taylor
- Kevin C Wyckoff
- Robyn Pepin
- Curtis Day
- Darlene Pardiny
- Joseph M. Veneziano
- Erin Dudley
- Danny E Oliva
Paul Doherty is the NAPSG Project Manager with Adam Fackler serving as the NAPSG Tech Lead. German Whitley and Erin Arkison are managing the project for GISCorps.
Explore this mission’s objectives and methods in the #FireMappers Story Map: