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Crisis mapping and disaster risk reduction

Crisis mapping and disaster risk reduction

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Dec 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Crisis mapping and disaster risk reduction
Date:16 Dec 2011 by
Vincent Fung
Geneva -
Crisis mapping has emerged in the lastfive years as a dynamic and open way tovisualize and report on crisis and disasters. Withincreasing internet connectivity, mobile phoneuse, and user-generated content,'crowdsourcing' is gaining traction by taking advantage of informationcommunication technology (ICT) that allows communities and networks
to answer some of the world’s mo
st pressing issues.Held for the first-time ever in Europe, the 3rd International Conferenceon Crisis Mapping (ICCM) was one example of how new technologiesand growing networks of tech-savvy individuals and organizations canhelp to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters.
“ICT tools, such as those used by Crisis Mappers, help us understandwhat is happening on the ground and who’s affected following a
disaster. The tools combined with user-generated content also providean insight into vulnerabilities and risks that a community faces pre-
disaster,” says Margareta Wahlström, the UN’s d
isaster risk reductionchief.
“Given our ability as a society to generate, manage, and distribute
information, the potential for understanding disaster risks from a globalto local level is encouraging. In particular, how crowdsourcing can beused for early warning, risk identification, and as a disaster risk
management tool.”
One of the main ingredients to understanding disasters and takingpreventative measures or responding quickly and effectively isaccounting for disaster losses and managing data and information,whether crowdsourced or centrally managed.Speaking at a pre-ICCM2011 event on Geographic Information Systems(GIS), Ryan Lanclos, Manager of Esri
’s Emergency Management &Disaster Response Industry said: “GIS
-based hazard and risk analysis
should be fundamental to an organization’s daily work. It helps us
understand our vulnerabilities and prioritize where to focus mitigationefforts to reduce the
impact of future disasters.”“The key to this insight is data –
we have to continually collect, manageand update our organizational data to feed our analysis. When we dothis well and collaborate appropriately with partners who can completeour data puzzle, this pre-disaster analysis not only helps us prepare but
also to respond effectively following a disaster.”
Initiatives such as Ushahidi, ArcGIS.com, Sahana, Google CrisisResponse, as well as the UN Secretary-
General’s innovative Global
Pulse project provides outlets for individuals and organizations to
engage with each other to capture real-time issues and risks
 ultimately to save lives and strengthen resilience to shocks anddisasters.In his keynote address for ICCM2011, Sanjana Huttotuwa, SpecialAdvisor to ICT4Peace Foundation, emphasized that technology is
“democratizing analysis” by allowing people to communicate what they
see and hear on the ground that can have an impact pre- and post-disaster. He says that the trend cannot be ignored as it is a definingmoment in our lifetime.
In a blog post following ICCM2011, Sanjana writes: “mainstream media
coverage in the past couple of years clearly flags that aside from the [SriLanka] war, widespread flooding, landslides, erosion and drought havecost hundreds of lives, devastated livelihoods and laid waste large
tracts of land.”
“Technology isn’t going to stop any of this in the near future, but giving
citizens the power to alert, advise and action risk reduction strategies,at a community level, leveraging the power and reach of mobilesphones and the Internet, can save lives that through centralized and
opaque planning and relief plans are often lost.”
The ICCM2011 conference was organized from 14-15 November by theICT4Peace Foundation an
d the European Commission’s Joint Research
Centre, and the Swiss Confederation, in collaboration with the

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