Facebook today introduced Disaster Maps for India to help communities across the country recover and rebuild faster from natural disasters by sharing critical information in a timely manner.
The announcement was made at company’s first Disaster Response Summit in India along with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
Facebook will now share its disaster maps, developed using aggregated, de-identified data, with NDMA. These maps can aid swift disaster response by providing real-time, actionable information.
“Social Media can help shape a future where, on the one hand, vulnerable communities become increasingly self-reliant and on the other hand, government agencies have more powerful tools to get real-time feedback and reach out to people whom they seek to serve,” said Kamal Kishore, Member, NDMA
According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) data, India is the third-worst affected country by natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, landslides, cyclones and drought. Moreover, the response time during and after these crises is often slow and it takes significant time and resources to understand where help is needed most. Disaster Maps, powered by Facebook’s technology and intensive research, will address this critical gap in data that government organizations face when responding to a crisis.
“We want to empower our community by building products that connect people and create positive social impact. In times of disaster, our platform is a valuable source of information—whether it’s letting your friends and family know you are safe with Safety Check or using Facebook to raise donations for relief efforts,” added Ritesh Mehta, head of programs, India, South and Central Asia.
What are Disaster Maps?
Launched globally in June, Disaster Maps, uses aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organisations address the critical gap in information they often face when responding to natural disasters.
Facebook has built three kinds of maps:
Location density maps: These show where people are located before, during and after a disaster. We can compare this information to historical records, like population estimates based on satellite images. Comparing these data sets can help response organizations understand areas impacted by a natural disaster.
Movement maps: These illustrate patterns of movement between different neighbourhoods or cities over a period of several hours. By understanding these patterns, response organizations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation, or predict where traffic will be most congested.
Safety Check: These maps are based on locations where our community uses Safety Check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster. We are using this de-identified data in aggregate to show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help organizations understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed.
Facebook now has over two billion-plus users globally and users in India have crossed the 240 million mark.