Ruby Day 5: data day

6am Everyone was exhausted last night – crashed out, went to bed early.  Woke at 5am today to a note about sushi and coconut juice in the fridge. Ate supperbreakfast/breakupper/supfast/whatever and checked in on the Skypechats.  Lots of messages overnight: OSM team is organised and churning through mapping tasks; DHN is oriented, the SBTF is gearing up ready, some lovely new maps on Reliefweb and a few more links to add to Joyce’s online list but they’re slowing down in frequency now.

I map some residential roads and rivers on It’s time to start thinking about datasets. Maning is already working on shelter geolocation, someone’s repurposed the Yolanda geonode site, and I need to start checking through HDX for anything useful/ needed for Ruby.

Dayjob meets weekend: am asked about the OSM humanitarian style on Ushahidi V2. Start trying to remember what the workaround for the Ebola maps was. It was RobBaker writing a plugin:  DSDW (the philippines agency that coordinates shelters etc) is working on Crowdmap; I check the plugins list there to see if Rob’s one has made it in. It hasn’t yet.

Josh from google person finder is looking for people in-country to test their SMS tool… yay! Am in country!  Does anyone else need something testing out here?

8am. Looks like a nice day out there – warm, slightly cloudy. Not a clue in the sky that there’s anything approaching.  Matchmake some Sahana-based design work.  Disasters aren’t the best time to try something new, but they can focus people’s minds beautifully on what’s needed for the next one.

11am. Starting to get little gusts of wind here. A local mapping group (Eric) makes contact via UNOCHA, but the remote mappers they need to talk to are all asleep. We have to get better at hyperlocal mapping – getting people the tools and techniques they need then getting the heck out of the way unless they need extra bodies or skills.  We all start micromapping the damage to trees from the last storm here (“come look at coconut trees int the Philippines – thank you, but I already saw a load from the car yesterday…) using imagery gathered by SkyEye, a great local UAV company. It’s frustrating, knowing that I could drive out and get corroborating imagery with my phone.  Results are being used as a training/test set for image classification algorithms at Simon Fraser Uni – is so good to see the bullshit “disaster application because it looks good in the publicity” work that used to happen in academia as cover for algorithm exploration or military work being replaced with genuine connections to people who actually need the help.

Dan checks in… he’s starting to worry about whether I’m safe; I say that right now it’s a lovely day and we’re all going to be fine.

4pm Normal life. Lunch at a hipster cafe that seems to have dropped intact out of midtown Manhattan.  Shopping at the market, visiting wine expert (margaux, yum), napping, spa.  Check in on Hagupit facebook page. (“We’re building a community of #RubyPH #Hagupit weather watchers and on-the-ground citizen journalists. Join up to share the latest info and meet people who want to make sure we’re all prepared!”).  Storm and power outage reports starting to come in (Tacloban, Dolores, Sulat, Calbayog).  Look through the SBTF micromappers deployment site.  More locals start connecting into the grid of international folks watching Ruby, including EngageSpark, who’ve been pushing out SMS messages.  I make a list of local crowd coordinators, but I’m not totally sure who to give it to.  There’s a new coordination skypegroup setting up – perhaps they all belong in there?

8pm. At dinner… everyone keeps popping away from the table to answer phones/emails and coordinate work.  See two datasets that should be out there for the digital humanitarians: evacuation centre list (messy, various forms, pdf) and expected storm surge heights in towns/ cities.  Convert both into PDF – team posts them up on HDX.  One of the dinner guests has a tech problem – field people using ODK on tablets who can’t get the data from them uploaded because they only have SMS available.  Ping the tech volunteer groups to see if anyone has an answer for them… Kate from OSM responds. Discover person with shelters list for 2 more areas – get promise of pdfs from them.