Through the use of the various outreach strategies discussed further below, we managed to obtain a large amount of useful information that we used to guide our app through development. The following features were added due to responses via our survey, emails and Twitter.
Search bar: Our excellent navigational tool that allows the user to search for a particular town or city and then zoom to that location was added following feedback. We received a direct request from one of our followers on Twitter that read “I suppose my one quick piece of feedback would be that a search box where you could search for a location, e.g. Los Angeles, would be mightily useful!” We developed it and made it live on the app a short while later.
Legend: We received numerous requests for more information to be given as to what our colour system. On Twitter we received a direct message from one of our followers that said “Interesting concept! It would be great to have a legend and an explanation of what the user is seeing on the map.”
Filter: A common problem people had with our app was that it looked “cluttered” with so many data points showing. In order to remedy this issue we decided to implement a filter system, such that the user can only see a subset of all the data points depending on what they want to see. The most useful filter is the >50% filter, which means only the locations where wildfires are most likely will show.
Probabilities on placemarks: Initially our app just showed the placemarks as colours from yellow to red, representing the probabilities of wildfire likelihood on the given day. We kept the probabilities in the backend. However, we got asked by a survey response to show them, since it would be useful to see exactly what the likelihood is. The exact request was “Show more information regarding probability of wildfire in each location, a percentage probability would be nice.”
Info panels: We have received some feedback across Twitter and the survey that our app was somewhat confusing to understand exactly what the data meant. We hoped that the legend would be enough, but for some it was not. We figured a good way of giving meaning to the placemarks on WebWorldWind would be to have info panels that display more information about the given location.
Improved performance: Early versions of the app that we put out for users to give us feedback for had some performance issues, particularly with the loading of data onto WebWorldWind. We realised this to be the case thanks to user feedback across Twitter and our survey.
To engage with our potential user community we attempted to make contact with a wide range of different industries that are relevant to our app. Our main aim was to receive feedback from those in relevant industries, and potentially establish links with wildfire and environmental agencies around the world which could lead to future cooperation and collaboration. The main areas we wished to establish links with were:
We used three main methods to obtain feedback for our app:
We have received notable interest from a number of large organisations in the wildfire and environment sector. The interest shown has been significant as it shows the real potential our product has to save lives in the future. Below are the largest organisations to have contacted us, and a little bit about our interactions with them.
Afis (http://www.afis.co.za/) - Provides a satellite-based fire information tool that reports near real-time fire information to users across the globe. We were contacted by one of their research leaders who was very interested in how our app worked and potential future collaboration with us. They specifically asked us if we could set up our app to work in southern Oregon so that our app could be added to their dashboard. Although we didn’t commit to allowing them to use our app on their dashboard yet, we did expand our app slightly northwards into Oregon to reach the areas of interest that Afis wanted covered. They have since inquired into a possible Skype meeting, which we hope will occur soon.
Greenpeace Russia (http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/en/) - a non-governmental environmental organization defending the natural world and promotes peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing solutions. We received interest from a Wildland Fire Project campaigner who wished to talk to us over Skype about possible future co-operation. The meeting went extremely well and Greenpeace Russia are very interested in using our app if we expand it to Russia. We also have received an endorsement from them, and have offered to provide us with data and advice to further improve the accuracy of our model by taking into account factors such as population density of an area. Greenpeace Russia aim to use our app within their Wildland Fire department, mainly be their hundreds of volunteer firefighters who hope the app with prevent fires before they occur.
EPN564 (http://www.epn564.com/) - an emergency and weather photographer based in southern California. We reached out to him on Twitter and he were very interested in our app. We exchanged several emails disussing our app, and he said he would like to use our app for a month or so and provide quality feedback after using our app in realtime. This commitment was very important to us as it is our first real world use of the app. We look forward to hearing his feedback in a month’s time.
We also received a little interest from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, weADAPT, SEI International, The NW Fire Blog, patrickryanimages, RedZone, Wildfire Viewer, Fire Adapted Network.
Disclaimer: The source of outreach data shown can be provided on request. Survey data is anonymous, and therefore will be made public. However, for email and twitter comments, permission from the poster is required before comments can be attributed to specific people or organisations.
Screenshots of interactions with the user community can be found HERE