Wednesday, October 24, 2007

KPBS San Diego Fire Map vs. SDSU Satellite Imagery Fire Map

Note: You can find the most recent fire maps here. This post is more analytical.

The search for valid and current fire map data presents us with the classic data fusion problem. Who do you trust when you have multiple, conflicting sources of information? All across the Internet, people are linking to the KPBS map. It is an outstanding collection of fire information, road closures and evacuation centers. It's easily the best combined map around.

However, its fire location information is out of date. Here's a comparison of the KPBS burn area estimation with the satellite imagery-based fire location information from SDSU. The dots are from the satellite images and the filled-in red polygon is the estimated burn areas from the KPBS map.

Click on the image for a larger version.

As you can see from the fire dots derived from satellite imagery, which, by the way, is not even close to real time, the fire was about 5 miles past where the KPBS map says it was as of the last update from the satellite images several hours ago. How do you take all of this information and fuse it into a single, trusted operational picture?

From what we see here, it's pretty obvious that there needs to be an analyst in the loop. I would bet that the KPBS information for road closures and evacuation points is pretty good. If I had the resources, I would pull out that data and merge it with the satellite imagery from SDSU. That would provide you with as good a operational picture as you could get.

By the way, if you're looking for good fire maps, go to the main page of this blog and scroll down. I've got several.

October 25 Update: The KPBS map now matches the SDSU map. Those two sources have been excellent this whole time.

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