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Monitoring British Columbia’s wildfire threats with ArcGIS Dashboards

Esri Canada’s Public Safety Industry Manager, David Hamilton, looks at how the BC Wildfire Service is utilizing ArcGIS Dashboards to keep the community informed of potential fire threats.

My avid blog followers (you know you are) will recall my post from the summer of 2018, in which I talked about the loss of both my sister’s and my niece’s homes to the Alkali Lake wildfire in northern BC. In the days leading up to the loss of my sister’s home, I constantly monitored the BC Wildfire Service’s Interactive Wildfire Map out of concern for my family and to keep an eye on the rapidly changing situation. Shortly after that blog post, the BC Wildfire Service released their BC Wildfire Dashboard, which provides users intuitive and interactive data visualizations of location-based analytics. The application is a configuration of our ArcGIS Dashboard, which you have undoubtedly seen most recently to visualize COVID-19 data.   

After seeing recent news that BC is experiencing lower than forecasted wildfires this season, I decided to check out the BC Wildfires Dashboard to find a total of 176 wildfires across the province, thus far. In comparison, BC had upwards of 289 wildfires on this date in 2017.

The great benefit of using dashboards is the ability provide different views of the data with ease. For example, I was curious to see how many of the 176 wildfires in BC had been caused by human error. By selecting “Suspected Cause” from the top left widget I was presented the data breakdown, and lo and behold 74.8 % of the wildfires this season were caused by humans (be smart out there, folks). I was also able to drill down into the data to display the attribute table of the layer along the bottom of the map.

As I think back to the summer of 2018, I was so eager to find information on the Alkali Wildfire, and the BC Wildfire Interactive Map quenched that thirst. The team continues to extend their dashboard by adding even more data visualizations, making it the province’s authoritative source for wildfire updates and data. Another job well done by the BC Wildfire Service!

Providing the public with the authoritative and timely information they need, be it out of concern for loved ones or understanding their own proximity to hazards, is a key component to any successful emergency management program. That is why the configurable dashboard is a main pillar of the new Emergency Management Operations Solution, which Esri Canada developed to provide organizations the ability to make informed decisions when they matter most. This collection of apps will allow you to:

  1. Model potential impacts of an event
  2. Monitor changing conditions
  3. Conduct damage assessments in the field
  4. Communicate the status of the event and location of field teams
  5. Provide executive-level briefings
  6. Share information with the public

Visit our page to learn more about the Emergency Management Operations Solution, and contact us to get your own emergency management apps started. 

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.

About the Author

David Hamilton is the Public Safety Industry Manager for Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to improve all areas of public safety, specifically (NG)9-1-1, law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, emergency management, and search and rescue. Prior to joining Esri Canada in 2010, David managed the GIS for E-Comm 9-1-1 in Vancouver, and worked for the RCMP at the Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games where he managed their Common Operating Picture. Being active has been a major part of David’s personal life; soccer, track & field, skiing, cycling, hiking and now kayaking are all among his favourite activities.

Profile Photo of David Hamilton