NWCG releases app for South Canyon Staff Ride

South Canyon staff ride app
Screen shot from South Canyon staff ride app

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has released an app for the South Canyon Staff Ride. On July 6, 1994, 14 firefighters lost their lives on the fire 7 miles west of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

As you may know, a staff ride is usually a guided tour at the site of a significant wildfire, with programmed stops and talking points. The objective is to explore lessons learned. The intent of the app, according to “Rob N.”, an Instructional Media Illustrator for NWCG Training who coded the app, is to familiarize and prepare individuals prior to visiting the site.

In using the app, when you touch one of the numbered stand locations on the map, it takes you to a photo of the area along with some text about what happened at that location.

The version that was just released is on the Google Play site and is for Android devices (smart phones and tablets). They expect to develop a version for Apple devices in the near future.

This version is a Beta release and is a little rough around the edges. On my Samsung Galaxy Nexus, running Android 3.0.8, I had trouble getting some of the navigation buttons to respond, and it took me a while to figure out how to get the text to scroll until I found an almost hidden scroll bar. The photos are extremely low resolution, and “Rob” told us that they will be replaced when they move past the Beta version.

The developers hope to receive input and suggestions for improvement from Beta testers. According to the Google Play site, about a half dozen copies have been dowloaded as of May 21. It can cost thousands of dollars to have a professional developer write the code for an app, but this was done in-house in about a week.

We applaud the NWCG, stepping boldly into the future present, developing an app. We’ll reserve judgement on the usefulness of this particular endeavor until it comes out of Beta and is tested by actual users seeking lessons learned.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

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