For those of you in the know about Australia’s out of control fires burning through the bush, you may be interested in a few resources available to you to track the situation through some of the news outlets. Authorities fear more than 200 have died in the blaze, so if you’re wondering what’s going on where, this post will be of interest.
ABC News (Australia) has a FANTASTIC implementation of Microsoft Virtual Earth used to report news stories. Their interactive map application has several buttons for switching between different news story types. Click on "Latest News" for a constant stream of news feeds mapped out in Virtual Earth. Click on "Human Cost" to get a map pushpinning deaths around the country. Or, click "Current Threats" and this is where you’ll find information on these out of control fires.
As a side note, I’m loving this UI. Built with a Flash interface the application has great performance and leverages road, aerial and hybrid map styles. And, note the custom navigation and zoom controls. Sweet.
The British Broadcast Company News rolled out a Virtual Earth application that’s interactive with their users. Users can go in and mark the map with a pushpin and add a comment. You can add a comment because you’re in the middle of the blaze and have been affected; or, using a different pin type, can add a pin and comment because you know someone who has been affected. Once you’ve added a comment, your pin will be added to the map for others to view the location of the pin and the comments written there within.
Finally, nineMSN published a collection in Live Maps with information and pictures of the respective areas affected by the fires. Explore them at will.
On behalf of the Virtual Earth team, I can tell you our heart goes out to everyone affected by these fires and hope these applications can at least provide you with information and some additional context for where things are happening.