The latest use of Google Maps doesn’t help users get to their destinations faster, plot their runs, or spot weirdos in Street View – but it may help save lives. Google has begun hosting maps provided by San Diego’s KPBS and the Los Angeles Times to keep residents up to date on the status of the wildfires burning around them.
Links on the Google Maps main page redirect users to live maps of either city, with updates on the progress of fires, evacuations, safe locations and even places that will take in animals. The biggest fires have data on total acreage burned, buildings destroyed and damaged, firefighters deployed, point of origin, probable cause and more. Data is aggregated from news sources, along with fire perimeter updates from the U.S. Forest Service.
Along with the online map offerings, Google has downloadable map overlays for Google Earth that show satellite imagery of the fires and their progress. Links to the overlays can be found on Google’s Lat Long Blog.