How Crowdsourcing
Has Changed Disaster
Relief Forever
Web 2.0 Summit
16 November 2010
Schuyler Erle
@schuyler
schuyler@sim...
! !
!"
Now, by the term “crowdsourcing”, I mean specifically projects or environments that support collaborative knowledge ...
! !
! ! ! !
! !
The way that OSM contributors usually participate works something like this: First, an OSM editor goes out...
! !
Now, why would you want to do such a thing? Well, in many parts of the world, particularly outside the US, detailed ge...
! !
! !
Jesse Robbins tells the story that, after Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross were inadvertently telling evacuees to ...
! !
So we can see that having accurate maps and geographic information can be a big deal in a humanitarian crisis situatio...
! !
In Port-au-Prince itself, between one-third and one-half of the buildings were damaged or destroyed, including this bu...
! !
The consequence was that there wasnʼt much good geographic information freely available for international humanitarian...
12 Jan 14 Jan
19 Jan 24 Jan
In times of gravest need, everyoneʼs heart naturally goes out to the afflicted, but what can mo...
The result is nothing short of incredible. Here you can see streets, parks, buildings, clinics, waterways, swampland, IDP ...
OSM quickly became the best source of freely available, highly detailed geographic data for Haiti. The Mission 4636 projec...
The OSM data got ported over to handheld GPS map formats, where it was used by search-and-rescue workers to navigate aroun...
The OpenStreetMap data for Haiti found its way on to the iPhone, in the form of a special version of the GaiaGPS mapping a...
... who walked into the OCHA GIS tent at the UN Logistics Base, and said “My truck drivers are going to Grand-Goave and I ...
Consequently, MapAction, a small NGO which serves as “cartographic first responders”, relied on OSM for the road data to ma...
“Without a doubt,
OpenStreetMap has
helped to save lives.”
Letʼs stop and consider this for a moment. With no more coordination than an IRC channel and a wiki page, a few hundred vo...
! !
Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team has begun to organize to try to carry this work fo...
! !
OpenAerialMap
One important component of this response will be a still-nascent project that we call OpenAerialMap, whi...
Humanitarian OSM Team
http://hot.openstreetmap.org/
@hotosm
Web 2.0 Summit
16 November 2010
Schuyler Erle
@schuyler
schuyl...
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How Crowdsourcing Changed Disaster Relief Forever (Web 2.0 Summit Ignite version)

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How Crowdsourcing Changed Disaster Relief Forever (Web 2.0 Summit Ignite version)

  1. 1. How Crowdsourcing Has Changed Disaster Relief Forever Web 2.0 Summit 16 November 2010 Schuyler Erle @schuyler schuyler@simplegeo.com
  2. 2. ! ! !" Now, by the term “crowdsourcing”, I mean specifically projects or environments that support collaborative knowledge creation. The crowdsourcing project Iʼd like to introduce you to is one called OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap been around since 2004, and aims to collaboratively map the entire world on a Free and Open basis. You can think of it as a sort of “Wikipedia for geographic information”.
  3. 3. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! The way that OSM contributors usually participate works something like this: First, an OSM editor goes out in the world, and gathers geographic information using a GPS and a notepad. Then they take their notes and their GPS tracks, trace and annotate them, and upload them to the OpenStreetMap database. OSM currently has hundreds of thousands of registered users, and tens of thousands of regular contributors.
  4. 4. ! ! Now, why would you want to do such a thing? Well, in many parts of the world, particularly outside the US, detailed geographic data isnʼt freely available. Even where data *is* available, itʼs often out of date, incomplete, or just plain wrong. By the way, when I look at the sign on the left, my first instinct is to read it as “No trucks allowed this way, only satellites.”
  5. 5. ! ! ! ! Jesse Robbins tells the story that, after Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross were inadvertently telling evacuees to use a bridge that wasnʼt there anymore. He called them and was told “What do you mean ʻthe bridge isnʼt there anymoreʼ, I can see it in Google Maps!”
  6. 6. ! ! So we can see that having accurate maps and geographic information can be a big deal in a humanitarian crisis situation. In January of 2010, as you all know, the Republic of Haiti endured a Magnitude 7.0 earthquake just outside the capital city of Port-au-Prince. An estimated one to two hundred thousand were killed, and another three million affected.
  7. 7. ! ! In Port-au-Prince itself, between one-third and one-half of the buildings were damaged or destroyed, including this building, the former headquarters of the National Center for Geospatial Information, or CNIGS. The loss of its headquarters, its senior management, and most of its technical resources meant that CNIGS was unprepared to assist the international relief effort with the geographic information that they maintained.
  8. 8. ! ! The consequence was that there wasnʼt much good geographic information freely available for international humanitarian agencies to use in planning their relief efforts. Thankfully, most of the commercial satellite imagery providers stepped up and released lots of high quality post-disaster imagery, so that aid responders could see that, for example, large informal encampments had quickly sprung up around the collapsed Presidential Palace.
  9. 9. 12 Jan 14 Jan 19 Jan 24 Jan In times of gravest need, everyoneʼs heart naturally goes out to the afflicted, but what can most of us do beyond donating a few dollars to the Red Cross? A few members of the community began volunteering their time to collect and organize the available satellite imagery, while hundreds more set to work tracing it and adding to the OSM database. You can see their progress here.
  10. 10. The result is nothing short of incredible. Here you can see streets, parks, buildings, clinics, waterways, swampland, IDP camps, and even a racetrack catalogued in exquisite detail. In less than two weeks, and with no coordination beyond an IRC channel and a page on the OSM wiki, contributors added over a million objects in Haiti to the OSM database, making it, ironically, one of the best mapped cities in OSM in the entire Western Hemisphere.
  11. 11. OSM quickly became the best source of freely available, highly detailed geographic data for Haiti. The Mission 4636 project, which used the Ushahidi platform to crowdsource real-time translation and geocoding of thousands of SMS text messages from victims on the ground, relied on OSM for its base map. The US Army Southern Command later used these reports to guide its search and rescue operations.
  12. 12. The OSM data got ported over to handheld GPS map formats, where it was used by search-and-rescue workers to navigate around the damaged city. This extremely blurry photo was sent to the OpenStreetMap community by an SAR team leader from Virginia. He wrote, “I wish you could see [the team's] faces light up when I ... tell them that I'm going to give them street level detail maps.”
  13. 13. The OpenStreetMap data for Haiti found its way on to the iPhone, in the form of a special version of the GaiaGPS mapping app which they released to the iPhone store for free. While at first this may seem a bit fatuous, it turned out that many relief workers used their smart phones as personal nav devices, including this gentlemen from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid staff...
  14. 14. ... who walked into the OCHA GIS tent at the UN Logistics Base, and said “My truck drivers are going to Grand-Goave and I want to give them OpenStreetMaps. Well, Google Maps is okay, but really what I want is OpenStreetMap.” OSM made such an impression on the ground in Haiti as being the best source of geographic information that even a strictly non-technical aid worker knew to ask for it by name.
  15. 15. Consequently, MapAction, a small NGO which serves as “cartographic first responders”, relied on OSM for the road data to make the maps used by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The practical result was that, before long, near *all* UN agencies on the ground were using OSM. A MapAction staffer told me, quote, “Without a doubt, OpenStreetMap has helped to save lives.”
  16. 16. “Without a doubt, OpenStreetMap has helped to save lives.”
  17. 17. Letʼs stop and consider this for a moment. With no more coordination than an IRC channel and a wiki page, a few hundred volunteers mapped an entire country almost from scratch in a couple of weeks. As a result, for the very first time, people sitting in the comfort of their own home, or their own office, were able to contribute substantially to saving the lives of people in the middle of a natural disaster from halfway across the world. This is unprecedented, and it has changed disaster relief forever.
  18. 18. ! ! Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team has begun to organize to try to carry this work forward. As we speak, volunteers from HOT are currently on the teamʼs fourth mission to Haiti, to try to build local capacity to continue the work of mapping the country, in the face of a disease epidemic. We are also seeking to organize ourselves in order to be able to respond effectively to the next major disaster.
  19. 19. ! ! OpenAerialMap One important component of this response will be a still-nascent project that we call OpenAerialMap, which we hope to turn into the largest Free and Open repository of satellite imagery for the entire world. OpenAerialMap has been little more than a good idea for years, but the value of ground imagery and the necessity for getting into the hands of volunteers in the event of humanitarian crises has never been clearer.
  20. 20. Humanitarian OSM Team http://hot.openstreetmap.org/ @hotosm Web 2.0 Summit 16 November 2010 Schuyler Erle @schuyler schuyler@simplegeo.com We still have a lot of challenges ahead. Although crowdsourcing has changed disaster relief forever, we have yet to find ways to ensure that the volunteer community stands up the next time their skills and efforts are needed, and that their work is used effectively by relief actors. I hope you will step forward and help us. Thank you!

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