Oil in the Gulf: Maps and Apps

By: E&P Staff

Several sources are now available for tracking by time and place the effects of the runaway BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Some applications allow users to contribute information and assist recovery efforts.

From New Orleans, The Times-Picayune‘s nola.com overlays the site of the well and animation of the spreading oil over a satellite image of the Gulf. It created the animation using overflight information and forecast models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Unified Command. Below the map, clickable boxes correspond to the days since the oil rig’s explosion and subsequent uncontrolled upwelling of crude oil.

To the east, the Mississippi Business Journal reports that NVision Solutions, based in coastal Hancock, County, offers the free Oil Spill Response app for the iPhone. Downloadable from the iTunes store, it permits users to report oil-related incidents along the coast and upload associated images. Reports can be viewed on an online map and on an iPhone. At the same time, NVision staffers are supporting the Mississippi National Guard and the EPA’s Mobile, Ala., command center with updated maps of oil boom deployment.

Another mobile app for crowdsourcing is the Oil Reporter for Android and the iPhone, based on Appcelerator’s platform for developing native mobile, desktop, and iPad applications using web technologies. Created for Crisis Commons by Intridea using Appcelerator Titanium technology, Oil Reporter enables citizen journalists to use mobile phones to capture and upload data and geo-tagged photos and videos. Appcelerator, meanwhile, has begun recruiting volunteer mobile application developers to aid NGOs in building apps to locate damaged areas based on Oil Reporter data.

Two others available from the iPhone Apps Store offer updates on the disaster and information on how to help, file reports and donate to the clean-up (City Source’s free SkyTruth Gulf Oil Spill Tracker) and spill timelines, comparisons with earlier spills and the financial and environmental consequences (BP Oil Spill, 99 cents).

For 99 cents, the Apps Store also offers “Oil Spill Cartoons” by Daryl Cagle, owner of Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate, where all the cartoons drawn about the oil spill are collected (E&P Online, June 16).

Two scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, created an iPhone app for saving animals form the oil. Their Mobile Gulf Observatory (MoGo) enables citizens to assist the effort by using their phones’ photo and GPS capabilities to send pictures and locations of distressed wildlife to rescuers (via the UMass server, where locations are then mapped and images studied by wildlife experts. Click on the “get MoGo” link at www.savegulfwildlife.org.

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