How we built it: The Waldo Canyon Fire app

Scott Seibold and Robbie Trencheny are first responders of a different sort.

Waldo Canyon Fire

Kristen Hunt | Instagram

Scott Seibold and Robbie Trencheny are first responders of a different sort.

The two Colorado Springs developers launched into action during the Waldo Canyon Fire, the devastating June wildfire that killed two, displaced tens of thousands of residents and caused millions of dollars in damage.

At the Hacks and Hackers Colorado Meetup of content creators and developers Monday night, the duo presented their Waldo Canyon Fire Tracker — a web app that aggregated Twitter hashtag #WaldoCanyonFire posts, displayed a photo gallery of images and provided links to resources for displaced residents by local public officials.

Live tweet coverage courtesy of Amy Gahran.


Hacks and Hackers | Waldo Canyon Fire App

Colorado Springs developers @scottseibold and @robbie explain how they built the Waldo Canyon Fire web app—a real-time Twitter feed of news, photos and information.

Storified by tekhneCO · Mon, Aug 27 2012 21:51:52

.@scottseibold explaining how fast the #waldocanyonfire moved, how confusing it was. #hhco @ Uncubed http://instagr.am/p/O2h5ERj2Uj/Amy Gahran
.@scottseibold co-developed Waldo Canyon Fire Tracker web app w/ @Robbie http://waldocanyonfires.com/ #HHCOAmy Gahran
Earlier for @kdmc I covered how local/community news venues can roll their own Waldo Canyon Fire Tracket web app: http://bit.ly/MsXEox #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "http://t.co/8nkvEmPA web app is essentially a Twitter feed with better formatting" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "I called 1 of my friends, he didn’t know that his apt building had been evacuated. Dude, you need to get on Twitter!" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "We used node.js on back end, that made it faster to develop. New language, purely JS. Also usered nTwitter and socket.io" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Less than 3 sec after someone hit send on their tweet, it would show up on people’s screens via our app. Speed counts." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "We also added pics on left side of web app, pulled in pics from Twitter & Instagram. Mostly from Instagram, by far." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Retweets were a problem, we had to filter those out. That cut down amount of content 10-20X easily." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "We monitored feed for tweets from official agencies, sheriff etc., and called them out vidsually and audio notification." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "The mayor & sheriff were using the #waldocanyonfires hashtag. That was really helpful." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We used a combination of hashtags and phrase searches to aggregate #WaldoCanyonFire content from Twitter." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We didn’t really filter out tweets where ppl fr elsewhere sent thoughts & prayers. Wanted to present whole picture." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "The streaming Twitter API just pushes tweets in real time to your server. Complemented by 3rd party clients like Tweetbot." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "You can customize this kind of app by changing searches, look at certain users, change parameters." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "New changes to Twitter API wouldn’t affect an app like this. http://bit.ly/PgYTaS. We’re a feed consumer not 3rd party app" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We tried to design this broadly, holitically, intuitive. Get to the site & right away you know what you’re getting." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We’re now trying to develope & skin Waldo Canyon Fire Tracker into a real product, including geotagging." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We didn’t really move to block or flag accounts that were tweeting inaccurate info." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "I did tweet out to ppl to note who was tweeting inaccurate info. Future iterations of the platform will address that issue" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "RE accuracy we were just republishing content from Twitter, adopted their terms that we are not liable for accuracy." #HHCOAmy Gahran
RE spam accounts: @scottseibold: "Toward the end I remember spammers using fire hashtag. We want to segment those out in the future." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@WendyNorris "It’s interesting to see self-policing community accrete around hashtags. Maybe they could help human curatie this" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We need to distinguish & keep MTs vs RTs in future iterations. Additional comments count." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Twitter search is not real time, and they definitely filter it down, you don’t get full firehose with Twitter search." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "We didn’t think CO Springs was very tech savvy, so we felt more intuitive formatting was impt for that community." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Curation is import part of value of media, we want to support and amplify that with this platform." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Curation is import part of value of media, we want to support and amplify that with this platform." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@WendyNorris "So you’re the Reddit killer?" .@scottseibold: "Maybe. But @Robbie wouldn’t like that." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Twitter only shares geodata if it’s enabled on client side. All location data is lat/long plus maybe a label." #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "Twitter says you’re not supposed to use API for redistribution, that’s why Twitter partners w/ places like GNIP" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@scottseibold: "Dataviz tools are in the works for this platform. We think this might be 1 of most valuable parts of this platform" #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@WendyNorris suggests integrating w/ @ushahidi for integrating crowdmapping supplied by mobile users. #HHCOAmy Gahran
.@Robbie "I think @ushahidi is cool, especially the geo aspect. We wan to work with them." @ #HHCOAmy Gahran
That concludes #HHCO preso for tonight!Amy Gahran