The critical use of GIS in wildfire mapping
On top of all the recent events that have dominated the various news cycles around the country, we have a new problem that people need to prepare for: wildfires. As the summer heat approaches, wildfire season begins to descend upon the country, mainly in the western United States. A Chicago Tribune article predicts an above normal fire season in the Northern Rockies this year. The reason behind these fears is the weather patterns of Western Montana resembling the weather patterns of 2007, where 9.3 million acres burned due to 85,000 fires across the state.
How GIS jobs are helping
Another fear that officials have is how will COVID-19 will affect firefighting efforts. To deal with this indirect COVID-19 problem, we will be leaning on GIS jobs and technology more than ever. GIS analysts will be using methods such as mapped heat indexes, UAV data collection, and wildfire mapping to prepare and efficiently keep our communities and firefighters safe. There is a contingent of young environmental and conservation conscious people that are learning skills to contribute to fighting the conditions causing dessication of the landscape. This includes field mapping with GPS/UAVs and getting a GIS certification in data analysis and reporting.
COVID-19 impact on emergency services
Coronavirus has impacted all parts of emergency services, firefighting being one of them. According to NPR, California was supposed to spend $1 billion dollars to help fight against wildfires this summer, but that money had to go into supporting efforts against COVID-19. One such program that has been affected by Coronavirus, was a State Government program that helped finance the cost of making Californian’s houses more fire resistant. In the last three years California has lost over 25,000 houses and buildings due to wildfires. Climate, environment, and vegetation are all linked and indicators of other problems, so we hope to have an influx of young talent that is working to solve the problem.