Evaluating fire evacuation routes using open source maps and data

Friday, 3:45 PM – 20 min
Evan Wyloge

After tragedy unfolded in Paradise, California last year during the Camp Fire, I was tasked with coming up with a way to evaluate fire evacuation routes in California for a USA Today-California Network project looking broadly at how the state is handling intensifying wildfires.

Ultimately, I used U.S. Census Bureau data, federal, state and local fire risk maps and OpenStreetMap road data to calculate the number of people living in the “very high risk” zone, in each ZIP code, per number of major roadway lanes leaving the ZIP code.

I think there are ways to improve this sort of analysis, and other researchers have come up with some other methods to dig into similar topics. I’ll share what I learned and what I’m interested in trying next.