Nobody can have failed to be moved by the tragedy of the Bush fires which have been devastating Victoria, Australia this weekend. As reported by Official Google Australia Blog the Google Geo team in Sydney worked fast yesterday to get a real-time map of the extent of the fires available online and is has seen extensive use over the last 24 hours.
A crucial part to making this happen beyond the skill and dedication of the Google team in Sydney, has been the system put in place by State of Victoria Country Fire Authority (CFA). This largely volunteer fire brigade have put in place an excellent web based system including a RSS feed of incidents which is used to produce the map.
This is a great example for all public sector providers of information.. provide your information in a form that allows reuse via different channels, not only does this spread the flow of information to as wide an audience as possible, it also reduces the direct traffic to your site during major events.
And for UK readers it is interesting to note that although protected by our familiar friend Copyright, these feeds are available and indeed designed for personal and non-commercial use.
Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.