More than a year ago I wrote about Waze, a traffic jam app that I think could be extremely helpful, if modified for crisis mapping. Now it turns out that somebody has done just that.
Stormpins is a mobile phone app
iPhone app (no Android version, sorry) that allows everyone to report hazards via their mobile phones, with an emphasis on weather related hazards. The app uses your phone’s GPS and let’s you report things like fallen trees, flooded roads, accidents and other incidents. These hazards are then visible on the web and within the app.
Closing the information – decision loop
In addition – and this is what I really like about it – Stormpins comes with an online dashboard for emergency managers that allows them to view all reported hazards, forward them to emergency responders or delete them.These last two options are what makes the app special, since most crisis mapping applications are only good at collecting data, but very bad at closing the loop between the information and the people who can do something about the hazards that have been reported.
By giving the emergency managers a dashboard where they can evaluate and process reports, they are making sure that the map has operational relevance. By enabling administrators to remove reports easily, the developers help to prevent another problem that plagues many crowd sourced maps – that there frequently is no good mechanisms to close incidents one they have been dealt with.
In addition, emergency services can add their own information and advise people to avoid certain roads or places in the city etc.
From what I can see, Stormpins doesn’t seem to have attracted a lot of users yet, which of course is the make or break point for all applications that rely on utilizing the power of the crowd. Nevertheless, to me it seems like this iPhone app is better at serving the concrete needs of emergency response personnel, then what I have seen so far.
Have you seen any good mobile applications that support crisis mapping? Please share them in the comments.