Facebook rolls out Disaster Maps in India to help save lives in crisis

Facebook has teamed up with India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to launch Disaster Maps and other initiatives to help quicken disaster response

| Updated on: Nov 09 2017, 13:06 IST
Technology to help save lives during natural disasters.
Technology to help save lives during natural disasters. (REUTERS)
Technology to help save lives during natural disasters.
Technology to help save lives during natural disasters. (REUTERS)

Facebook introduced on Thursday initiatives to help speed up response and rehabilitation during natural disasters in India, opening up its bank of data for officials and aid groups to understand where attention is needed in the crucial hours of a crisis.

The initiatives include Disaster Maps, a platform unveiled globally in July, which is based on aggregated "de-identified Facebook data". It comprises of three sub-tools - location density maps, movement maps and safety check maps.

The social networking giant has collaborated with India's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), to which it will relay the data from the three tools.

Location density maps show where people are located before, during and after a disaster. The data is then compared with historical records such as population estimates based on satellite images, Facebook explained in a release.

"Movement maps illustrate patterns of movement between different neighborhoods or cities over a period of several hours. By understanding these patterns, response organisations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation, or predict where traffic will be most congested," it said on its website.

Maps based on Safety Check, already a popular feature on Facebook, uses data such as the location where more or fewer people have marked themselves as safe. This information is expected to help government agencies and relief workers determine the most vulnerable localities.

Facebook also announced that it is supporting the pilot of the ASK-DIV (Disaster Information Volunteers) scheme where a network of trained volunteers provide supplementary information to inform government relief efforts through the Facebook Workplace platform. It has collaborated with the Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) for this measures.

"This programme, which is being executed by SEEDS (a leading NGO working on disaster resilience), will establish a network of volunteers to provide real-time, first-hand information on disasters in their local communities. The volunteers will be mobilised, trained and connected through existing networks of local and credible civil society organizations (as identified by SEEDS) as well as willing individuals from public agencies," said the company in a release.

"Facebook will provide support through Facebook Workplace for the volunteers to relay information, while the NDMA will receive this information securely and coordinate."

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First Published Date: 09 Nov, 13:05 IST
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