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.
- How To Make Crowdsourcing Disaster Relief Work Better (usnews.com)
- Crowdsourcing the Evaluation of Post-Sandy Building Damage Using Aerial Imagery (irevolution.net)
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.
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.
- GeoDC Meetup on Crisis Mapping Tomorrow (Wednesday) (mapbox.com)
- Tracing OpenStreetMap data in the Sahel (mapbox.com)