One of the most useful sites is our media access to the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency call log. CRESA’s media log, which is delayed by about 15 minutes, provides us with the time of the 911 call, the type of incident, the address, and the responding agency. It’s not enough for a story, but it does verify an address and give us an indication of whom to check with.
To find out about people, a few years ago we purchased the Washington voter database from the secretary of state’s office. Politicians love to buy this, which is how you get on mailing lists during election season. We don’t offer public access to our list, which gives us the names of registered voters, their street addresses, and their dates of birth. But we can use the data to verify the spelling of an unusual name, like Herrera Beutler. I sometimes use odysseyportal.courts.wa.gov/odyportal to tell if someone has a Washington criminal record.
Another site I frequently use is the Clark County property records, which you can find on the county’s website (or follow the link from the digital version of this column). Enter an address and you can get a bunch of information about a property, including the name of the neighborhood, the owner’s name, the assessed value, and even a photo. This is most helpful when a fire breaks out; you can see what kind of property is in danger.
We can check on traffic accidents in several ways. For those occurring on state highways, the Washington State Department of Transportation has an active Twitter account and a website, also available as an app, that shows live traffic cameras and conditions. This week, for example, we captured a WSDOT webcam image of a crash near ilani casino for our website. Clark County also has an elaborate traffic webcam system on its webpage.
The final piece of my breaking news bookmarks is FlashAlert, a press release distribution service used by local police, fire and other government agencies. It can be found at www.flashalertportland.net.
I keep some other sites handy, too. AP Newsroom lets me see what is going on in the region and around the world. AP is like Comcast — there are a lot of subscription options. Just because something on the internet is from the Associated Press doesn’t mean we can use it for our newspaper or website. But, if it’s in my AP Newsroom feed, it’s included in our license.
Finally, I admit to having the Princess Cruises live webcams bookmarked. This site shows live views from the bridge of the various ships in the fleet. Hey, even a busy editor deserves a 10-second vacation. Especially when he has to deal with a new computer.