Category Archives: bushfire

Mapping georss data using R and ggmap

Readers might recall my earlier efforts at using R and python for geolocation and mapping of realtime fire and emergency incident data provided as rss feeds by the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA). My realisation that the CFA’s rss feeds are actually implemented using georss (i.e. they already contain locational data in the form of latitudes and longitudes for each incident), makes my crude implementation of a geolocation process in my earlier python program redundant, if not an interesting learning experience.

I provide here an quick R program for mapping current CFA fire and emergency incidents from the CFA’s georss, using the excellent ggmap package to render the underlying map, with map data from google maps.

Here’s the code:


#download and parse the georss data to obtain the incident locations:
cfapoints <- sapply(getNodeSet(cfaincidents, "//georss:point"), xmlValue)
cfacoords<-colsplit(cfapoints, " ", names=c("Latitude", "Longitude"))

#map the incidents onto a google map using ggmap

#download and parse the georss data to obtain the incident locations:
cfapoints <- sapply(getNodeSet(cfaincidents, "//georss:point"), xmlValue)
cfacoords<-colsplit(cfapoints, " ", names=c("Latitude", "Longitude"))

#map the incidents onto a google map using ggmap
png("map.png", width=700, height=700)
timestring<-format(Sys.time(), "%d %B %Y, %H:%m" )
titlestring<-paste("Current CFA incidents at", timestring)
map<-get_map(location = "Victoria, Australia", zoom=7, source="google", maptype="terrain")
ggmap(map, extent="device")+ 
  geom_point(data = cfacoords, aes(x = Longitude, y = Latitude), size = 4, pch=17, color="red")+

And here’s the resulting map, showing the locations of tonight’s incidents. Note that this is a snapshot of incidents at the time of writing, and should not be assumed to represent the locations of incidents at other times, or used for anything other than your own amusement or edification. The authoritative source of incident data is always the CFAs own website and rss feeds.

Rough-and-ready geolocation using python and R

The good folks at GeoScience Australia provide a comprehensive set of Australian gazetteer data for free download from their website. Using R and python, I constructed a simple geolocation application to make use of this data. I used the data in the gazetteer to determine the geographic locations of incidents reported by the Country Fire Authority in the rss feed of current incidents provided on their website.

First, I used the sqlite database facilities provided in R, to construct a new sqlite database (gazetteer.db) containing the downloaded gazetteer data. This could just as easily have been done in python, but R served my purposes well:

#R code to read in the gazetteer data and build an sqlite database table for it.
gazdata<-read.csv("Gazetteer2010_txt.csv", header=FALSE)
names(gazdata)<-c("ID_num", "ID_code", "Authority_ID", "State_ID", "Name", "Feature_Code", "Status", "Postcode", "Concise_Gazetteer", "Longitude", "LongDeg", "LongMin", "LongSec", "Latitude", "LatDeg", "LatMin", "LatSec", "Map_100K", "CGDN", "Something")
system('sqlite3 gazetteer.db', wait=FALSE)
connect<-dbConnect(driver, dbname="gazetteer.db")
dbWriteTable(connect, "places", gazdata, overwrite=T, row.names=F, eol="\r\n")

Next, I wrote a python script to download the rss feed, extract the incident locations (both using the feedparser module for python), match the locations with the place names listed in the gazetteer database (using the sqlite3 module of python), and plot a map (in png format) of the incident locations, by calling R from python, using the rpy2 module:

#! /usr/bin/env python
import feedparser
import rpy2.robjects as robjects
from sqlite3 import *
from time import strftime

#download incident feed using feedparser module
NumInc=len(feed.entries) #number of incidents
updatetime=strftime("%a, %d %b %Y %H:%M", feed.updated)  #time feed was updated

#step through incidents and extract location
for i in range(NumInc):
	inc =inc.split(',')[0] #strips out just what is before the comma (usually town/locality)
	incidents[i] =inc.title() #make first letter of each word UC.

#connect to sqlite database of Australian place names

#run query and store lats and longs of incident locations...
lat=[""]*NumInc #storage for latitudes
long=[""]*NumInc #storage for longitudes
misses=0 #counter for incident locations not matched in db.
misslist=list() #list to store locations not found in db
#query location of each incident and find latitude and longitude of best-match location
query='select Latitude,Longitude from places where \
Name LIKE ? AND State_ID="VIC" AND \
(Feature_Code="RSTA" OR Feature_Code="POPL" OR Feature_Code="SUB" OR Feature_Code="URBN" OR Feature_Code="PRSH" OR Feature_Code="BLDG")'
for k in range(NumInc):
	t=('%'+incidents[k]+'%',) #match using "like" with wild cards for prefix/suffix of string
	curs.execute(query, t)
	if get is not None: #check if any rows returned (i.e. no matched to locations), only assign result if exists
		lat[k] = get[0]
	if get is None:
missstring='\n'.join(misslist) #convert list of unmatched locations to a string

#use Rpy2 module and R to plot a nice annotated map of locations to a png file
r = robjects.r
r.png("incident_map.png", width=800, height=600)
r.points(y=lat, x=long, col="red", pch=16)
r.text(y=lat, x=long, labels=incidents, adj=1.1, col="red", cex=0.85)
r.axis(2, at=r.seq(-34, -39),labels=r.seq(34, 39), las=1)
r.title(r.paste(NumInc+1, "CFA incidents @",updatetime))
r.text(x=148.5, y=-33.6, labels=r.paste(misses," unmapped incidents:"))
r.text(x=148.5, y=-34,labels=r.paste(missstring))

The script works nicely, although some incident locations aren’t found in the database due to spelling errors, unusual formatting, or omission of locations from the geoscience australia data. I included some code to list the unmatched locations beside the map, for easy reference.

Here’s a map of tonight’s incidents:

Bushfire danger forecast in conky

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology publishes daily forecasts of bush fire danger on its web and ftp sites. I live in an area with very high fire danger during the summer months, and I need to be aware of the forecast bushfire risk. I devised this simple bash script (called, which grabs the local weather forecast, strips out the required information and returns it.

#! /bin/bash
#BOM weather forecast for Yarra Glen
#Get the data from the web
  DATA=$(curl -s $URL)
#strip out the fire danger rating line from the raw text
  FIREDANGER=$(echo "$DATA" | grep -A1 'Fire Danger')
#print the fire danger forecast
  echo $(echo "$FIREDANGER")

Displaying this information on my computer’s desktop using conky,  is accomplished by adding the following line to my .conkyrc file:

${execi 4000 /home/michael/Scripts/}