on April 20 an explosion on the BP operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed eleven crew members, sparking not only a significant environmental incident, but – increasingly – a new case study on how interested parties can bring pressure to bear on governments and organisations.
like The Guardian vs. Trafigura last year, the ongoing BP Deepwater Horizon situation is fueling emergent possibilities and rules of engagement on how different groups and organisations engage and influence each other, of which the above is a great example…
it's a GoogleMap of Sydney and the surrounding area, with the current extent of the Deepwater Oil spill super-imposed on top. it makes real the extent of the spill, which – if it was here in Sydney – would stretch from Newcastle in the north to Wollongong in the south, and from far out to sea in the east to far beyond the blue mountains to the west. it's all courtesy of ifitwasmyhome.com the original page of which shows the extent of the spill in it's actual location.
it's interesting for three reasons. one, it's built and powered by (pretty much) RealTime data. we can see the situation as it is now, rather than retrospectively or projected. the site explains how the data is collected…
"The data used to create the spill image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA releases a daily report detailing where the spill is going to be within the next 24 hours. They do this by collecting data from a number of sources, including satellite imagery and reports by trained observers who have made helicopter flights back and forth across the potentially affected areas. This data is entered into several leading computer models by NOAA oceanographers along with information about currents and winds in the gulf." source
the second point of interest is how the site is intrinsically social. of course all of the web is social now, but everything about the site is designed to make it adoptable and sharable, with functionality that encourages just that.
finally, it's such an elegant idea. too often we fail to grasp the reality of a situation because it's too remote, too incomprehensible, is too short on credibility, or because its difficult to relate to. this simple and elegant idea takes all of that square on, making the spill as relatable as it can be, in as credible a way as can be imagined. whilst all the time fueling personalised ugc to propel the issue into conversations from which it may have otherwise been absent.
the casebook on how governments, BP, the media and the public interacted and influenced each other throughout the Deepwater incident is yet to be written, but I suspect that when it is, ifitwasmyhome.com will have had a part to play.