Posts Tagged Ushahidi

Disaster Response: Hurricane Sandy–Some Tools To Track The Damage And Response

Man, this storm has done some serious damage and my thoughts and prayers go out to those on the East coast. Luckily the death toll has not been higher, but this thing is not over yet.

So for the response to this storm, it is important that folks who are involved with that have the tools necessary to track the disaster, and the response to the storm seems to be pretty good so far. But like the articles suggest below, folks were not expecting the storm surge to be this high and that will factor into the mix for the response. 13 to 14 ft is amazing.

One thing that is concerning is that this winter, and power is out. Hopefully the cold related injuries and deaths can be reduced to a minimum through an effective response. Neighbors helping neighbors.

The other thing is the main cause of deaths in this storm so far is falling trees. For first responders, definitely keep an eye on the trees in the areas you are responding too, because ‘widow makers’ are all over the place. Couple that with snow or ice forming on these precarious trees damaged by wind, and you can see why this is something to think about while going in these places.

Paul from the Facebook page asked if anyone has created an Ushahidi for this storm, and after some digging around, someone has. Here is a link to this storm tracking tool and you can click on the graphic below as well. The blog at Ushahidi is also posting about all of the various crowd mapping projects across the web that are trying to help out and that is useful for folks trying to find stuff that is relevant. FEMA and the Red Cross has resources as well. Good luck to everyone that is involved. –Matt



Sandy: Five Latest Developments
Published: Oct 31, 2012
Sandy continues to weaken over the interior Northeast, however gusty winds, snow and rain will linger into Wednesday.
Below are some of the latest developments as we continue to track Superstorm Sandy.
1: Millions Still Without Power
• As of 1 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, over 5.9 million customers were without power due to Sandy.
• On Tuesday morning, a peak total of over 8 million customers were in the dark. Obviously the Northeast was hardest hit, but significant outages occurred in northern Ohio, and sporadic outages occurred as far away as northwest Indiana and northern Georgia.
• In some regions, power failures were nearly total. Governor Andrew Cuomo said 90% of Long Island families were without power Tuesday. One of New Jersey’s utilities reported 86% of its 1.1 million customers were without power Tuesday morning, and that figure was still 86% early Wednesday.
2: Numerous Fatalities Reported
• As of mid-morning Wednesday, the total number of fatalities blamed on Sandy is 47 in the mainland United States plus one in Puerto Rico.
• Many of the victims were killed by falling trees.
• Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean. Click here for a complete roundup of Sandy’s aftermath in the Caribbean.
3: Staggering Damage
• Very early damage estimates suggest Sandy caused at least $10 billion in damage, and possibly as much as $50 billion in total damage and lost business. The higher number would make Sandy the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, behind Katrina.
• Damage ranged from storm surge flooding to direct wind damage to devastating fires fueled by high winds and the difficulties fire departments faced in navigating flooded or blocked roads. We have more than 200 images of the devastation at this link.
• For video of the damage and aftermath, check out our video player at the top of this page.
• We also have a by-the-numbers breakdown of Sandy’s top winds, worst surge and heaviest snow.
4: Chilly Weather in the Blackout Zone
Behind the storm, cold air has moved into areas where power is out.
Wednesday morning temperatures were in the 30s and 40s across most areas without power, except for New England where 50s and lower 60s prevailed.
New England will lose the mild advantage Thursday morning and 30s and 40s will prevail across the power outage regions for the next several mornings.
Daytime highs will only rise into the 40s and 50s over most of the areas that are without power, with no warm-up expected through the next five days.
5: Three Feet of Snow!
• Three feet — 36 inches — of snow fell near Richwood, W.Va. by late Wednesday morning.
• Mount Le Conte, Tenn., reported a whopping 34 inches of snow by Wednesday morning.
• 33 inches of snow fell near Clayton, W.V., ironically located in Summers County.
• Up to 29 inches of snow was reported in Redhouse, Md.
• Several other locations in the mountains of West Virginia and western Maryland received 2 feet or more. Even the high elevations of East Tennessee received as much as 22″ of snowfall.
• The heavy wet snow and high winds led to numerous power outages in communities throughout the central Appalachians, posing hardships especially for elderly residents coping with outdoor temperatures in the 20s and lower 30s.
• You can read more about Sandy’s snowy side and check out impressive Sandy snow photos here on
Story here.
NYC utility prepped for big storm, got bigger one
October, 2012
Consolidated Edison figured any surge would not surpass the 11-foot record set nearly two centuries ago. Or the design limit of 12.5 feet for a key substation in lower Manhattan.
But the wall of seawater reached 14 feet.
The surge that swamped the substation cut power to about 250,000 customers. It was the signature event in a series of electrical failures from winds and floods that at one point left almost 1 million Con Ed customers in the dark – a record storm outage for the utility.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

PMC 2.0: Ushahidi Haiti

  The boys and girls at Ushahidi have come through again with another super useful tool for those that are tracking the efforts on the ground in Haiti.  If you are deploying to Haiti, and want a quick run down of what some of the big ticket issues are, then check these various websites out along with the Ushahidi site.  I have no clue if you will be able to use smart phones on the ground there, but I am sure there will be an effort to get networks up and running at full speed. Communications, to include a fat pipe for the internet, will be vital for the relief efforts.

   I have not downloaded any of the mobile apps for Ushahidi, but I still recommend playing around with the app and testing it out. If you have access to wifi and have a browser on your phone, you can still visit Ushahidi Haiti that way.  Knowledge is power, and this is just one more tool for trying to get some clarity out of that sea of information pouring out of the disaster. –Matt


Our Efforts in Response to Haiti’s Earthquake

We’ve launched

January 13, 2010

The past 20 hours have been sad, exhausting and inspiring. Sad for obvious reasons. Exhausting because many of us have been working straight through with no sleep. But inspiring because of the incredible community of Crisis Mappers.

Here’s what been happening in the community:

Ushahidi launched a Haiti deployment

Mikel Maron at OpenStreetMap launched this Wiki

Andrew Turner at GeoCommons is updating CrisisCommons

Our friends at Sahana have set up a Development Team

Sahana has also set up a Wiki here

Our InSTEDD friends set up a GeoChat instance

Our friends at MapAction have deployed a team

Einar Bjorgo at UNOSAT is keeping us posted on imagery

InSTEDD is also working on getting +46 numbers for GeoChat, the Emergency Information Service (EIS) and Ushahidi. InSTEDD is also in Santo Domingo deploying EIS. Sahana is exploring the possibility of integrating GeoChat based on some work they did at Camp Roberts a few months ago. InSTEDD is also looking to start testing a Sahana/Mesh4X sync. There are several dozen other ongoing efforts but hard to keep track.

I first heard about the major earthquake around 7:30pm (Boston time) last night and immediately called David Kobia to get an Ushahidi deployment out. I have five close friends from The Fletcher School who have been in Haiti over the past two weeks and it wasn’t until midnight that I finally got word that they were alive.

What happened between 7:30pmm and midnight was inspiring. We went live with a basic deployment within half an hour. I called Chris Blow and got in touch with Brian Herbert. They both worked with David to continue the customization.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , ,

Technology: Ushahidi, and Mapping the Reports out of Gaza

    Another new technology that is being used in this current war is Ushahidi Mapping Software.  All this does is map what is going on in a conflict, based on various reports from the field from anyone with a SMS enabled phone or computer or using news aggregates.  The problem I have with this system is verification.  Hamas or the IDF could easily tap into this and contribute false reports, to paint a picture of what they want the public to see.  If there was an accurate way to verify, like only accepting reports that have multiple photo or video showing the same thing from different angles, along with a time/date/description stamp system, then maybe this might be somewhat useful.  Until then, I only see this being used more as a propaganda tool.  As you can see below, Al Jazeera is playing around with it, and it is kind of cool to flip through the various info and reports. But who are these folks making the reports, and how do I know they are telling the truth?  The truth after all is the first casualty of a war. 

   Now what I see as a good use for this tool, is for disaster relief.  Mobile phones and text messaging are often the only survivors amongst the rubble of disasters, and you always see these being used to a great extent during and after a disaster.  Sometimes only text messages can make it through, and something like this might be a great way for aid agencies to tap into the needs and emergencies of the victims.  

   Although, the key component of this technology is a population that have mobile phones, and having plenty of working towers to reach these folks.  I do think a mobile cell tower system is a vital component of today’s disaster relief, and should be one of the top priorities of a disaster.  Then once that tower is up, to implement a SMS plan, of reaching out to everyone via their phones, and giving them the preferred method of reporting–using text messages.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,