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Using GIS Technology to Track California Wine Country Wildfires

The recent wildfires in Sonoma and Napa have killed 40 people, destroyed more than 3,500 homes, forced the evacuation of about 100,000 people and impacted numerous wineries. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can provide first responders with tools to help manage wildfires.

An example of this technology is provided in the IAFC Public Safety GIS Application series. Under the first tab, "How GIS Can Help Emergency Services," the Live Wildfire application contains several GIS layers, Wildfire Activity and MODIS Thermal Images, for assessing wildfires. The wildfire activity layer consists of wildfire points and polygons confirmed by ground crews, and the MODIS Thermal Images layer consists of satellite thermal images showing hotspots.

These and other open source geospatial layers including topographic base maps, windspeed layers, and shelters can assist first responders plan and manage efforts to control fires. The included image shows the extent of the wine country fires. Geospatial tools are an option to assess and manage firefighter efforts for fast moving wildfires, like the recent wine country fires.

Can you think of ways of utilizing technology like this to respond to, and prepare for, these kinds of emergency events? Let us know.

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