Typhoon Haiyan: Social media improves situational awareness

The volunteer and tech community, coordinated by the Standby Task Force, is working around the clock since last Friday to map the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) in the Philippines. The progress that has been made, compared to Typhoon Pablo in December 2012, is impressive.

It’s probably easiest if you just look at the different maps.

This is the current map, which you can access here.

Damaged caused by Typhoon Haiyan

This map produced for Typhoon Haiyan is an enormous leap forward. Take a look here …

A “basic view” of the same map is also available.

As a comparison – here is the map that was produced after Typhoon Pablo in December 2012:

Social Media Map - Typhoon Pablo

Map created based on social media reports in December in 2012.

You can of course argue that a richer map also requires a better internet connection, but that doesn’t seem to be a big issue in the Philippines.

The question is of course, whether people on the ground will actually be using this map. However, the fact that the Shelter Cluster coordinator – and not one of my more nerdy friends – was the first person to forward me the link to the interactive map says a lot! While it doesn’t mean that people are using it, it definitely means that social media as a tool is now on the radar – and that is the first important step.

You can find more information about how the map was created on iRevolution.

Update (14 November 2013)Patrick Meier just published “Early Results of MicroMappers Response to Typhoon Yolanda“.