Tag Archive | crisismapping

The Information Revolution Gets Political

by Joseph S. Nye, Project Syndicate, Jan 9, 2013

“… it would be a mistake to “over-learn” the lessons that the Arab revolutions have taught about information, technology, and power. While the information revolution could, in principle, reduce large states’ power and increase that of small states and non-state actors, politics and power are more complex than such technological determinism implies.

In the middle of the twentieth century, people feared that computers and new means of communications would create the kind of central governmental control dramatized in George Orwell’s 1984. And, indeed, authoritarian governments in China, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere have used the new technologies to try to control information. Ironically for cyber-utopians, the electronic trails created by social networks like Twitter and Facebook sometimes make the job of the secret police easier.”

For full text of this thought provoking article, please visit The Information Revolution Gets Political by Joseph S. Nye – Project Syndicate.

 

Responding to Liability: Evaluating and Reducing Tort Liability for Digital Volunteers

Responding to Liability: Evaluating and Reducing Tort Liability for Digital Volunteers

By Edward Robson, Esq.

Major emergencies and crises can overwhelm local resources. In the last several years, self-organized digital volunteers have begun leveraging the power of social media and “crowd-mapping” for collaborative crisis response. Rather than mobilizing a physical response, these digital volunteer groups have responded virtually by creating software applications, monitoring social networks, aggregating data, and creating “crowdsourced” maps to assist both survivors and the formal response community. These virtual responses can subject digital volunteers to tort liability. This report evaluates the precise contours of potential liability for digital volunteers. Published by the Commons Lab of the Science and Technology Innovation Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, September 2012.

To download a PDF of the free report, visit the Commons Lab Scribd webpage here.

To read a follow up blog post by the author, visit the Commons Lab Blog “Calling for Backup – Indemnification for Digital Volunteers (November 7, 2012)”

To watch a video of the author discussing liability for digital volunteers, visit the Commons Lab YouTube webpage here.

Tweeting Up a Storm

Commons Lab, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, December 2012

We are inundated daily with stories from the news media about the possible impact social media like Facebook and Twitter will have on our lives. When a storm like Hurricane Sandy hits the East Coast, can this technology actually help to save lives and reduce catastrophic damages? It’s possible. For instance, mobile devices could allow emergency responders, affected communities, and volunteers to rapidly collect and share information as a disaster unfolds. Photos and videos provided through social media could help officials determine where people are located, assess the responses and needs of affected communities—such as water, food, shelter, power and medical care—and alert responders and citizens to changing conditions.

At least that is the promise. When Hurricane Irene barreled across the Eastern seaboard in August 2011, many in the news media cited it as a pivotal moment for social media for disasters. But research we conducted on the use of social media during Irene suggests otherwise. While some emergency management departments launched new social media outreach strategies during the storm, particularly to push information out to the public, many did not change their practices radically and overall use of the technology varied.

This article explores the challenges of effective use of social media for disaster response, read more here.

How To Make Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief Work Better

by Jennifer Chan, US News and World Report, Op-Eds, November 23, 2012

Dr. Jennifer Chan, a Public Voices fellow at the OpEd Project, is the director of Global Emergency Medicine in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and an associate faculty member of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, digital volunteers mobilized again. From their homes and offices, using iPads and laptops, hundreds of volunteers crowd-sourced information and took on microtasks to help FEMA and other agencies process large swaths of information and speed humanitarian response.

For instance, in the first 48 hours after the hurricane, 381 aerial photos collected by the Civil Air Patrol were viewed by hundreds of volunteers, with the goal of quickly giving an overview of the extent of storm and flood damage. This project was called the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap MapMill project. In response to a request from FEMA, project developer Schuyler Erle volunteered to launch and lead the project. By mid-afternoon November 2nd, more than 3,000 volunteers had assessed 5,131 images, viewing them more than 12,000 times. Just a week later, more than 24,000 images had been assessed. Each view from a digital volunteer—a mother, a researcher, a friend, a colleague—helped FEMA determine the degree of damage along the eastern seaboard, assessing the condition of buildings, roads, and houses, with the aim of helping the agency in its post-disaster recovery and planning. That’s an amazing effort.

But did it actually help?

For full text of the op-ed, visit How To Make Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief Work Better – US News and World Report.

 

Pakistan Ministry of Defense to Outlaw Civil Mapping

Pakistanis lost without maps

by Murtaza Haider, Dawn.com/DesPardes, November 21, 2012

The Ministry of Defence is about to declare mapping illegal in Pakistan. The federal cabinet, Pakistan’s foremost civilian authority, is willingly giving up a civic task to agencies that report to Pakistan’s Armed Forces.The proposed Land Surveying and Mapping Bill 2012 will entrust all mapping responsibilities in Pakistan to the Survey of Pakistan SoP, which supposedly reports to the Ministry of Defence MoD, but effectively takes its orders and cues from the General Head Quarters. Consider that the Surveyor General of Pakistan is often a serving or retired General, who leads the organisation that is not open to scrutiny by the civilian authorities.

For full text of this article, please visit Pakistanis lost without maps | DAWN.COM.

Nov 30: Brown Bag: International Charter on Space and Natural Disasters

Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Director, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi School of Law and Research Professor of Law, will discuss the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Disasters Charter), which provides for the voluntary sharing of satellite imagery in the event of major disasters. Prof. Gabrynowicz will address the contents, structure, and status of the Charter, and highlight its strengths and weakness with a focus on how it could develop in the future. She also will discuss data access and sharing ideas.

Commons Lab Webcast: Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management

On behalf of the Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, the International Association for Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, ESRI, TechChange, NetHope, and Project EPIC, we are honored to invite you to participate in a LIVE WEBCAST of the policy roundtable “Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management.” This roundtable will focus on US federal government’s opportunities and challenges for facilitating greater public engagement in the full-cycle of disaster management through social media, crowdsourcing methods, crisis mapping, and open innovation.

Webcast

The workshop itself is now full, but we will be making the majority of the panel discussions available via a LIVE WEBCAST from the Wilson Center webpages (links below):
Click on these links above to watch the live webcasts and to download copies of the agenda and background materials (to be posted Monday, September 10).

How The United Nations Is Using Social Media To Spot Crises [Video]

“In this talk from PSFK CONFERENCE NYC, Robert Kirkpatrick talks about how the social media revolution has opened up a significant amount of data that can be analyzed (anonymously) to see signs of change. Kirkpatrick, together with his Global Pulse team at the United Nations, studies sentiment in Twitter feeds, fluctuations in price data and changes in other available information to look for trouble. By using data for good, the United Nations can respond to disaster rapidly — rather than after the fact.”

For full text of this article and a link to the video, visit How The United Nations Is Using Social Media To Spot Crises [Video] – PSFK.

Of Hurricanes and Hashtags: Disaster Relief in the Social-Media Age

by Adam Mazmanian, National Journal, June 3, 2012

Just hours after a tornado devastated parts of Joplin, Mo., in the late afternoon of May 22, 2011, the mother-daughter team of Rebecca and Genevieve Williams of the nearby town of Neosho went to work on a Facebook page. … In the days that followed, the page became a clearinghouse for information on recovery, how to volunteer, where to donate supplies, media updates, and requests for information about loved ones. Eventually, administrator privileges were extended to 30 volunteers, including public-information officials at the local gas, electric, and water utilities. It was one big piece of a spontaneous eruption of social media that helped those survivors who relied on their smartphones for access to information. …

If the House version of the bill appropriating FEMA’s budget for 2013 becomes law, Fugate will have to show that the agency has a plan for deploying social media. A provision requires FEMA to improve its ability to collect data in real time through social-media monitoring and messaging and directs the agency to produce a report on the utility of social media in disaster response. …

For full text of this article, please visit Of Hurricanes and Hashtags: Disaster Relief in the Social-Media Age – Adam Mazmanian – NationalJournal.com.

Help Humanitarian Open Street Map Team Map Refugee Camps in Africa

REPOST OF ARTICLE “Imagery To the Crowd” by Joshua S. Cambell, Disruptive Geo Blog, May 21, 2012

Over the past year, the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) at the U.S. State Department has been working with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to publish current high-resolution commercial satellite imagery during humanitarian emergencies. The imagery is used to map the affected areas, and provide a common framework for governments and aid agencies to work from. All of the map data is stored in the OpenStreetMap database (http://osm.org), under a license that ensures the data is freely available and open for a range of uses.

This work began as part of the RELIEF Exercises 11-4 at Camp Roberts in August 2010, and focused primarily on the legal and policy issues associated with sharing imagery. Now with RELIEF Exercise 12-3 happening in DC this week, the project is moving into its first technical implementation. As a proof of concept, the HIU is publishing imagery for the refugee camps in the Horn of Africa, and making the imagery available to the volunteer mapping community. The goal is to produce detailed vector data for the refugee camps, including roads and footpaths in and around the camps. There are tens of thousands of refugees living in these camps who are victims of famine and conflict, and these data can be used to improve planning for humanitarian assistance.

How to help: We are going to open access to the imagery on Monday 21 May 2012. We would like to spend two 24-hour periods tracing the areas of interest, which will include 11 refugee sites. All work will be done through the HOT Tasking Manager (http://tasks.hotosm.org), a microtasking platform that will split up the image tracing into ‘tiles’ that will require approximately 30-45 minutes to map.

Accomplishing this task will require that volunteers become familiar with OpenStreetMap and the basic concepts of mapping. But, don’t worry, there are plenty of resources out there to help. For more information on the OpenStreetMap (OSM) process, see the “Beginning OpenStreetMap Tutorial” available from the LearnOSM website (http://learnOSM.org), specifically Chapters 1,2,3,6. For more information on HOT’s work in Somalia see the HOT Somalia project page, and other HOT related materials on the HOT wiki.

For full text of the article, visit Imagery to the crowd…phase 1 | Disruptive Geo.

To help the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team Map Refugee Camps in the Horn of Africa, visit the HOT OSM Task Manager: http://tasks.hotosm.org/

If you don’t have an HOT OSM account, you can register for one by clicking here.

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