The federal government Monday released what it called “a one-stop shop for detailed near-real-time information about the response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill” in an effort to get updates out the range of groups affected by the ongoing disaster.
The site, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, centers on a map of the spill, with views showing outlines of the oil slick, affected fisheries and coastal cleanup efforts.
Oil has been flowing out of a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico since April 22, two days after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank.
Information about the spill hasn’t always been scarce, but it has been scattered. This new site, and the underlying software that powers it, is an effort to organize the massive flows of data coming out of the dozen or more agencies involved in the spill response, and the make as much of that information public as possible, said Scott Smullen, a spokesman for NOAA.
“This is a mirror of what incident responders are seeing,” Smullen said. “What we can show is being shown. This will grow over time.”
The main site, GeoPlatform.gov, is a joint effort between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire and has been in the works for several years, though this is its first public use.
Other groups outside the government have been mapping some affected areas since early May.
- Google released outlines of the spill based on satellite imagery, along with updates and resources.
- The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental advocacy group, charted firsthand reports on the spill using Ushahidi a mapping engine that connects to cell phones.
- CrisisCommons, an ad-hoc group of technologists working on humanitarian projects, released open source an iPhone and Android application allowing users to report oil sitings to a central database.