Today the Lost Coast Outpost brings you “CHPWatch,” real-time dispatches from the California Highway Patrol’s Humboldt County Communications Center, which covers everything on the coast between northern Mendocino and the Oregon line. Every call into the center that results in officers dispatched — everything from some yahoo parking in the bike lane to this morning’s fatal, road-closing accident in Redway — it’s all cataloged and updated in real time.
I made the first, Twitter-based version of this a couple of years ago, basically for one reason and one reason only: I am a stupidly paranoid father whose family, at the time, was making semi-regular trips out of the area. When they were on the road, I found myself wracked with fear and unable to accomplish anything at all. I’d start calling their destination about five minutes after they were due, and continue to hassle my father-in-law at regular intervals until they arrived. After I made this thing, I had only to check my Twitter account every 90 seconds or so to buy brief moments of reassurance. No news is good news.
So now you can do that too. Go to CHPWatch. There you find a list of the day’s CHP calls, with the active ones in the top at red. Click on any of the incidents for more information and updates. The incident is also placed on a Google map, when possible, so you can search by location. Also, you can go backward and forward in time with the little links at top. There’s a link to common CHP codes and shorthand at the bottom of each incident. It’s pretty simple.
As with “Booked,” our LoCO subsection on Humboldt County arrests, we’re hoping that the accumulation and archival of this data will eventually lead to the ability to answer larger questions. Perhaps, in a year’s time, we’ll be able to go back and figure out: Where do the county’s motorcycle crashes happen? What are the most dangerous hours for bicyclists to be riding on the highway? (In fact, if anyone has a proposal relating to either of these datasets, please drop us a line.)