While looking at the role of social media in the response to recent floods in the Philippines I came across Project NOAH, the “National Operational Assessment of Hazards”, which is an impressive example of how Google maps can be mashed with historical data, current predictions and reports from the public to provide everyone with a more comprehensive picture.
While NOAH is definitely not rocket science, it’s a great example of what you can do with the data that you already have. At the heart of the map are drop down menus from which you can choose historical data such as the “5 year flood map” or the “Ondoy flood map” showing which parts of a city or town have a history of flooding. The data is detailed enough, that you can see this information on a street by street level.
Historical, current and crowdsourced data
In addition you can overlay this information with current data such as probability of rain, 24-hour rainfall and the current water levels at rain and stream gauges around the country. Members of the public can also report floods through a web interface.
What I really like about NOAH is that the information is not only available to disaster responders, but to everyone with an internet connection. This empowers affected communities to organize themselves in anticipation of floods, rather than having to wait for information to drip down from above. On top of that, the data is displayed in a very accessible, easy to digest way which means you don’t need a university degree to interpret it. And that’s exactly the way it should be.
Do you have examples of similar systems/applications?
If yes, please leave a comment.