Designed to handle near infinite scale, the application design was kept simple and serverless to ensure a rapid response


Detailed visual assessments of the condition of properties gives residents the ability to determine the status of their residences


An extremely responsive and flexible API address lookup was implemented, allowing users to find addresses with speed and simplicity

Making Sense of the Wreckage/

With a province-wide state of emergency in effect and 90,000 people still unable to return to their homes, the need to accurately assess the true extent of the damage caused by the 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfire could not have been more urgent.



The people of Fort McMurray still had no recent update on the condition of their homes, their neighbourhoods, and their communities. They needed to know the extent of the damage. Above all, they wanted to be able to see it for themselves.

A Moving Challenge/

In collaboration with Tesera, the Pictometry team mobilized immediately, getting planes in the air to collect the pictures that would serve as the foundation of the project’s aerial imagery. Tesera began to create the Firemap viewer and Fire Reporting tool using high-resolution photography taken from a number of directions in order to create a more natural perspective, ultimately allowing Fort McMurray’s residents to spot their homes and recognize the damage.


The tool Tesera was building needed to be fast and simple – allowing users to easily assess the potential impacts of the wildfire on their homes and quickly compare the conditions both before and after the disaster. Likewise, it needed to elegantly and seamlessly display a huge span of data, encompassing the damage caused by a wildfire that raged across half a million hectares and destroyed 2,400 buildings.

Organize, mobilize, analyze/

Agile, open source, and built in the cloud, the FireMap was Created in collaboration with Pictometry, Better, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The tool went from concept to implementation in the space of seven days – showing the remarkable power and speed of a lean development approach to designing interfaces.


The FireMap’s balance of design and function offers users a detailed split panel display of Fort McMurray before the fire in 2015 and after the fire in 2016. Allowing users to view and compare the damage seamlessly, the tool gives residents an exceptionally intricate visual assessment of the condition of properties in the city.


The Fire Report, also built on a before-after panel display, makes use of the oblique aerial images – featuring North, East, South, West, and overhead pictures – enabling evacuees to get a view of their properties from all angles. With options to view notes and important contacts to let residents begin the process of making an insurance claim, the team left no stone unturned in its mission to build something functional, valuable, and simple for evacuees of the wildfire.


Tesera created a flexible and responsive system for searching addresses using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloudsearch and API Gateway.

Avoiding dynamic loading means the application can go viral without sacrificing any of the application’s speed.

Using Lucene syntax and term ranking allows the application to let residents find their home address easily.

The creation of a simple API endpoint lets users find further information about home properties.

Build to handle high traffic, the tool’s application design was kept as simple as possible to make sure it could be fast and scalable.