With the dangers caused by the Australian bushfires burning across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Google launched the Fire Crisis Map.
The Fire Crisis Map shows the region in Australia where the bushfires were happening at present time, where bushfires have died out and the extent of damage the bushfire caused.
The map can also show which regions are at risk, which parts have registered back-burning and which areas have traffic incidents due to bushfires.
The map can be zoomed in for a clearer image. The tags found on the map can also be clicked to find the status of one particular region affected by the bushfire.
Google also launched the Google Public Alerts for New South Wales which monitor and compile updates and alerts from Australian fire services. With the Google Public Alerts, smartphone users can immediately be alerted if they are in an affected area.
Google added that Android users can use "Google Now" to access evacuation instructions.
However, iTnews reported that the Fire Crisis Map does not include data from Victoria and Western Australia at its launch due to a copyright and Creative Commons license issue.
The Fire Crisis Map needed the consent and assistance from fire and emergency services agencies across Australian states and territories to update data. Google requires that emergency services agencies make update through Creative Commons license allowing for free distribution of content that might be under copyright protection.
The Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) that can provide data update for the Fire Crisis Map has a copyright statement, stating that no data "may be reproduced or reused for any commercial purposes whatsoever."
Google's fire mapping services are linked to its advertising services and this violates CFA's copyright statement.
Aside from a possible copyright infringement, CFA is concerned about how Google can assure public that it can issue alerts in a timely manner given that CFA downgrades and upgrades warning from time to time.
"The Victorian community has an expectation that the information being provided to them is up to date and appropriate and we need to be confident that any third party provider, including Google, has the processes in place to make that happen," Victorian Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley told iTnews.
Mr Lapsley said that they are still in talks with Google on how to develop a process in which Google can be supplied with emergency warnings issued from CFA.
The Fire Services Commissioner (FSC) proposed that Google sign a contract agreeing to the terms and conditions that the FSC had set.
Google has yet to decide and comment whether it agreed or not to be bound by the FSC terms and conditions.
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