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Crowdsourcing Fire and Floods


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Presented to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
January 18, 2011
By Heather Leson
Participants in the discussion: ON government officials and members of CrisisCamp Toronto (Brian Chick and Melanie Gorka).

Thank you to Maurits Van Der Vlugt and Gregory Asmolov for providing input from their Crisismapping experiences.

Published in: Technology
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Crowdsourcing Fire and Floods

  1. 1. Crowdsourcing: Fire and FloodsHeather LesonJanuary 18, 2011 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources<br />
  2. 2. The Crowd is here <br />Alertnet names CrisisMapping one of the Top 20 big ideas that don’t cost the Earth.<br />Crowdsourcingis coming home in 2011. <br />Canadians watch the news. <br />Both the CBC and Global News are both asking questions: how they can use these new tools for user-engagement monitoring and reporting.<br />(Source: )<br />
  3. 3. Current Example: Crowdsourcing Floods<br />
  4. 4. The Australian Floods: January 2011<br />In less than 3 weeks: <br />Over 35 crowdsourced maps for Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.<br />Maps were created by Media, Government, NGOs, NFP, and individuals.<br />Other content: Twitter, RSS feeds (blogs), Traditional Media coverage<br />(Source:<br />
  5. 5.
  6. 6. About the Queensland Map <br />Created by media : ABC<br />Tool used:<br />No server required. <br />Urban area, citizen reporting<br />Verified and Unverified reports<br />Video and pictures added<br /># of reports: 916 (ongoing)<br />
  7. 7. Citizen Reporting<br />Volunteer Technical Communities mapped Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, Sudan and the Gulf Oil Spill using a combination of new and existing data.<br />Citizens are inspired by crowdsourcing activities around the world.<br />By the end of this year, there will be major initiatives in Canada.<br />Free online tools are available and will be used.<br />
  8. 8. Framework<br />
  9. 9. Volunteers and Academics<br />Volunteer Technical Communities and academic groups-crowdsourcingprojects:<br />Crisismappers,Ushahidi, OpenStreetMap<br />Random Hacks of Kindness 1.0<br />Academics – University of Boulder, Colorado (Project EPIC), Carnegie Mellon (Disaster Management Institute)<br />
  10. 10. Mapping Tools<br />Ushahidi/Crowdmap<br />OpenStreetMap<br />Sahana<br />Google Earth <br />Esri<br />
  11. 11. Data <br />UN/World Bank/Global Canadian/Ontario/Toronto (comprehensive list):<br />
  12. 12. New Data vs. Existing Data<br />Satellite imagery<br />Google Earth<br />Grassroots Mapping<br />Others<br />
  13. 13. Crowd Data Collection Tools<br />Ushahidi/Crowdmap/Swift River<br />Tweak the Tweet<br />Google Docs<br />Google/Bing Search <br />
  14. 14. Voice/SMS capture tools<br />FrontlineSMS:<br />Clickatell:<br />IntelliSMS:<br />Groundcrew<br />Instedd:<br />Tropo: (paid)<br />PBX-in-a-flash + Teleyapper.<br />(These tools listed were recommended by members of the CrisisCommons and Crisismappers mailing lists.)<br />
  15. 15. Wildfire Simulation Tools<br />Google Earth and the University of Corsica team:<br /><br /><br /><br />(Source: CrisisMappers mailing list)<br />
  16. 16. Preparedness<br />
  17. 17. Bushfire Connect<br />Australian Not-For-Profit project.<br />Created in June 2010.<br />Obtained volunteer help at Random Hacks of Kindness 1.0 (Sydney, Australia). (June 2010)<br />Team: Emergency manager + social media expert + media coordinator + three software developers.<br />It has not been used for a Bushfire.<br />Built on Ushahidi.<br />Server install. <br />
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Bushfire Connect <br />Status: Team is collaborating on tool development, funding and procedures. They are in advanced discussions with Victoria state government regarding apartnership.<br />Different from other Ushahidi instances: established well before event(s) – both advantage (branding and credibility) as disadvantage (less sense of ‘urgency’)<br />Recently added mobile application capability <br /><br />Contact: MauritsVan DerVlugt, Initiator and Business Strategist<br />
  20. 20. Response<br />
  21. 21. Russian WildFires<br />Team: Bloggers, Coordinator Group (moderators), IT, offline activists, and PR.<br />Created in August 2010<br />Tracked urban and rural fires<br />Organized in a short time with low budget.<br />Used Ushahidi.<br />Server install.<br />Tool:<br />Contact: Gregory Asmolov, co-founder of Help Map for Russian Fires.<br />Sources:<br /><br />
  22. 22. Bushfire Connect<br /><ul><li> Participation in firefighting including creation of private firefighting units
  23. 23. Purchasing professional firefighting equipment
  24. 24. Humanitarian aid
  25. 25. Transport
  26. 26. Money
  27. 27. Living places</li></ul>Volunteering<br />
  28. 28. Results: <br />Lessons Learned<br />Ushahidimakes possible transformation from sporadic coverage to comprehensive monitoring and coordinated assistance.<br />Collect, Monitor, Coordinate and Moderate.<br />Received over 1600 reports.<br />“The main purpose of the platform, is not mapping the wildfires, but primarily building the bridge between those who need help and those who wish to help.”<br />Next Steps<br />The team continues to collaborate. They just launched a new platform Focusing on Russian Winter topics (lack of heating, water, and electricity etc.).<br />
  29. 29. San Bruno and Boulder Fires <br />Both urban centers <br />San Bruno – Craig Fugate, Adminstrator of FEMA stated that Twitter gave him the most real-time data (September 2010)<br />Boulder – Telephone services unreliable. A key communication channel for emergency response suffered. Twitter was used as a work-aroundoutbound emergency response channel. (October 2010)<br />
  30. 30. Ontario, Canada<br />What about Canada’s forest?<br />Remote forest fire regions<br />Crowdsourcing/SMS may not be as useful<br />There has been little to no crowdsourcingcrisismappingyet.<br />
  31. 31. Ontario, Canada<br />Problem definitions: <br />How can the lessons learned from volunteer crowdsourcing benefit Canadian emergency responders?<br />Can crowdsourcing be effective in remote areas?<br />Is there a map with data mash-up of cellular coverage and north fire risk areas?<br />
  32. 32. Discussion<br />
  33. 33. Contacts<br />Heather Leson @heatherleson<br /><br /><br />Thank you to Maurits Van DerVlugt andGregory Asmolov for providing input and content for this presentation. And, to the Crisismappers community for ongoing dialogue.<br />Thank you to Patrick Meier and Jen Zemke for giving us a virtual home to meet and engage.<br />