Wildfire Road Hazards Spur Increase In App Usage

Oct 16, 2020

An app developed in part by students at Oregon State University helped inform the public about road closures during September’s wildfires.

Wildfires closed hundreds of miles of state and local roads in Oregon in September.
Credit ODOT

ODOT publishes information about state highway conditions through a website called TripCheck. While TripCheck doesn't offer an app for the public, students at the OSU College of Engineering helped develop an app for city and county governments to update TripCheck about local road conditions. The app, called TripCheck Local Entry, allows local governments to directly update ODOT's website.

In September, local governments used the app to update the state highway website 233 times, according to OSU. That compares to 53 updates the previous September. The university attributes the increase in usage to the wildfires.

Mark Clements of the college’s Center for Applied Systems and Software said the app allows info about highway closures to reach drivers more quickly. “For the public it’s nice to be able to see from point A to point B, no matter which jurisdiction the road that I drive on goes, I can see all the stuff that’s going on on the route that I’m going to take,” he said.

Most state and local highways are now open again in Oregon following last month’s widespread fires, which closed more than 200 miles of roadway at their peak.