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September 18, 2015
Red Cross Offers Interactive Tool to Access and Track Live, Wildfire Information

WASHINGTON, D.C., Thursday, Sept. 18, 2015 — The American Red Cross has launched an interactive online map that consolidates multiple sources of disaster data into a real-time, interactive tool to get information and updates about the Western Wildfires. The tool is a high-tech, user-friendly visual database for media and the public to learn the size and scope of current disasters and locate services such as Red Cross shelters.

The Red Cross “Map Journal” pulls together in one location multiple layers of Geographic Information System (GIS) data from the Red Cross and government sources.

The map provides the following information:

  • Location and size of wildfires
  • Evacuation zones
  • Road Closures
  • Location, address and population of      shelters
  • Where to take evacuated pets and animals(large and small)
  • Standard map elements such as counties,  cities, roads, rivers and mountain ranges
  • Demographic information.

The link to the resource is: http://arc-nhq-gis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=b3b9a01d09ad4ec0bea137ed96d9c4f1

“This map is one of the simplest and best ways to help people quickly grasp the very complex elements of a disaster,” said Greg Tune, Senior Geospatial Technology Associate for the Red Cross. “Our hope is to make it faster and easier for people to access vital information that will help them make informed decisions and take action. That includes the public as well as our own Red Cross volunteers who are out in the field delivering help.”

The Map Journal includes critical information pulled from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, InciWeb, National Shelter System (NSS), the Red Cross and other sources. Users can explore the data by zooming in and out, scrolling across the map, and clicking on data points to bring up more detailed information. Individualized bookmarks also allow users to browse information related to specific incidents such as the Butte Fire and Valley fire.

Members of the public can use the maps to access services. Red Cross workers can use the maps to help in their plans to deliver services – for example, a quick click to view road closures can help the Red Cross better plan the safest and most efficient route for response vehicles to deliver supplies.

The Map Journal leverages the power of Esri’s ArcGIS Online Technology to create a customizable web mapping application that is also mobile friendly.

Although this “Map Journal” has been created specifically for the current Western Wildfires, using GIS mapping data and tools isn’t new for the Red Cross – in fact, the Red Cross maintains an ongoing series of web pages providing a variety of weather, disaster and other informational maps and data year-round: http://maps.redcross.org.

GIS mapping is just one of many ways the Red Cross uses technology to improve emergency preparedness and response. These innovations include developing mobile apps that have been downloaded more than 7 million times, and using social media to help people before, during and after disasters and emergencies. Read more about other technological advances the Red Cross has made in the past 10 years: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Uses-Technology-to-Enhance-Disaster-Preparedness-and-Response.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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