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A new Twitter bot helps track wildfires

July 19, 2018

The account, @WildfireSignal, will help authorities, aid organizations, and affected people monitor fires.

What it does: The tool, created by researchers at a startup called Descartes Labs, pulls the locations of active fires from a government database and takes photos of them using the GOES 16 satellite. A team is then able to collect and process the wildfire data in four minutes.

What it shares: The program builds a time-lapse record of the fire based on the satellite data and automatically shares it on Twitter every six hours, along with a hashtag specific to each blaze.

What’s next: In New Mexico, the researchers are also monitoring how close fires get to buildings and residents to detect who is at the highest risk. A live feed like this could help reduce the reaction time of first responders and save lives.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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