Case Studies & Presentations Publications Related Links WWETAC

 

Threat News Explorer


The Threat News Explorer collects and displays news articles where wildland threats are discussed on the web. The application is hosted in the Amazon cloud and utilizes the Google AJAX Search API to create a database of news articles for specific predefined threats such as bark beetle, climate change, etc. There is also an option to enter search terms and retrieve a list of articles retrieved from a Google news search.

Introduction

The Threat News Explorer (TNE) application was built for the USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC). TNE facilitates assessment of wildland threats by collecting and displaying news articles on the web that discuss these threats. The user can view the latest, all, or selected articles for specific predefined threats such as bark beetle, climate change, etc. There is also an option to enter your own search terms and retrieve a list of articles retrieved from a Google news search. Articles retrieved from a user specified search are not saved.

The application is available at http://www.wwetac.us/TNE/TNE.aspx. Using the TNE application is simple. Users have a choice of either selecting predefined wildland threats, or entering their own search terms at the top of the page.

The application display area is divided into two sections. On the right is a map displaying the locations of places discussed in the articles. The left side of the display contains a tabbed interface with the following tabs:

  • Articles tab - This is where the articles are displayed to the user starting with the most recent articles. Each returned article provides a direct link to the article on the web, as well as the name of the publisher, the published date, and a short summary. Below the article summary are the names of places discussed in the article. Users can click on a place name to identify the location on the map. The map will zoom to the location and display a popup window for the place.
  • Report tab - The number of articles per day are displayed in an interactive line chart. This chart is created with the Google Visualization API. The chart applies to articles with places within the current map extent and automatically updates as the user pans and zooms in the map.
  • Select tab - The select tab has three main options:
    • All - Displays all articles collected for the selected threat since the TNE application was deployed.
    • Recent - Displays the most recent articles for the selected threat.
    • Selected - Provides a way for the user to select articles by specifying a published date range and/or search term. The user can choose to search for the term in the article title, publisher, summary, or the entire article.

The application is hosted in the Amazon cloud and utilizes the Google News Search API to create a database of news articles for specific predefined threats. Each threat is searched on a daily basis and the results stored in a database on the TNE server. The server makes a copy of each news web page for internal use.

During the process of collectiong articles, the TNE application also searches for known places discussed in the articles. This process uses Yahoo's PlaceMaker web service for identifying places in the web page text. The process of identifying places relevant to the article can be difficult. It is possible for the PlaceMaker web service to simply make a mistake in identifying a place. We attempt to remove incorrect places or places not relevant to the article through an internal ranking and filtering system, and also through manual edits to the database. The places are displayed on the map as points. The user can click on a point to view a popup window for the place. This window will list each article that discusses this place, along with clips of the article text that contains the place name.

This project was inspired by the paper written by Galez, et al (http://www.scribd.com/doc/13756691/Galaz-et-al-2009). This project provides the basis for working towards the concept presented in the paper by starting with a web crawler and data archiving system for news articles on wildland threats.

 

Western Wildland Environmental
Threat Assessment Center

3160 NE Third St.
Prineville, OR 97754
P (541) 416-6583
F (541) 416-6693
Website: www.fs.fed.us/wwetac/

Contact Information

Alan Ager
Phone: 541.969.8683
Email: aager@fs.fed.us

Charlie Schrader-Patton
Phone: 541.312.4291
Email: cschrader@fs.fed.us
Ken Bunzel
Phone: 208.882.0410
kbunzel@kingbirdsoftware.com