Thursday night around 8 p.m., a bridge collapsed over the Skagit River on Interstate 5 in Washington state.
The Seattle Times’ Cheryl Phillips headed into work. On her way, she phoned IRE and double-checked. Yes, the database of bridge inspections was available for download. Within 30 minutes, the database was in the house and The Seattle Times was using details from it in its breaking news report as well as working on a map feature of bridges statewide.
Being able to essentially get the most up-to-date data on demand through NICAR was invaluable in The Times' understanding of the bridge and putting the accident in context. Additionally, IRE’s site included links to other stories using the data, providing a valuable second-day resource as the paper continues to delve into the issue.
And while Phillips could have gotten the data from the bridge inventory site, she said that having it already cleaned up and with certain fields already transformed made a huge difference in terms of being able to analyze it quickly on deadline.
To check out the paper's work: