Google Australia engineers have created a Flash map to keep track of the deadly bushfires ravaging south-eastern Australia and help reduce the traffic burden to official sites coordinating emergency services.
The fires, which have tragically claimed more than 100 lives, are being tracked in real time with information provided by the state of Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA) via an RSS feed. The numbers on the map markers indicate the number of fires at that location and the colours represent the current containment status of that site (green represents safe, yellow for controlled, orange for contained and red going).
"We hope that it's of some use to people who may be affected, to emergency services personnel, and that it takes some load off other websites which are being inundated," the team wrote in a blog posting. "The map certainly makes the scale of this disaster immediately apparent."
The team says it is working to incorporate additional information into the map, and also offers tips for website operators who want to embed the map on their sites.
The ABC has also posted a Google-powered map on its site.
The blog Liako.Biz has posted an examination of how data portability allows for these maps to be created.