Crisis Data Management

Ruby day 8: Next

Ruby has gone now – “goodbye Ruby, Tuesday” is apparently becoming a popular song here.  But the cleanup work is only just starting.  Celina spends a lot of the day trying to UAV stuff sorted out; we get word that the team is getting imagery in the worst affected areas, and she works on getting that data stored and back to the mapping groups that need it. Response teams are moving into the field – many by boat because they can’t get flights. Requests still come in – one for an assessment of damage to communications and media stations (I suggest that Internews might have a list for this, then find that Agos is tracking communications outages. I stop with the lunchtime work and get back to the day job. ACAPS puts out an overview map but still need a rainfall map for it. Maning from the Philippines observatory just…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby Day 7: Back to Work

7am. Today is a work day, and my deal with work was that I’d be working-from-Philippines, not bunking-off-to-do-disasters, so I’ll only be popping in and out of the chats and here from now. Jean Cailton from VISOV (French VOST) has popped up overnight: many VOSTies are online working under the flags of other groups, which is kinda normal for mappers. Someone asks for rainfall data: the image a couple of days ago was based on TRMM data, so I wonder if NASA has daily updates to share (I already have scraper code for this from another project, and I remember that Lea Shanley is working on communities there now): Maning points out that the data is updated 3-hourly; is good. SBTF data is going to be posted on the Rappler map. And ACAPS puts out their first briefing note: volunteers are working with them, gathering secondary data (news, data etc) for the…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby day 6: clicking starts

7am. Wake at 6:30 am – check self for hangover, then check overnight Skype / email traffic.  Andrej from UNOCHA has posted a whole pile of links to existing UNOCHA datastores (outside HDX), and a link to 2013 population estimates (up to now, we’ve only found 2010 figures).  Realise that there isn’t a long-list of datastores for the digital humanitarians (I’ve been sending links out, but they’re behind a group’s firewall).  And the HDX team now has a Ruby page at https://data.hdx.rwlabs.org/ruby. The micromappers deployments have started (if you’re reading this and want something to do – that!).  I see a message that http://ourairports.com/countries/PH/ needs updating – Andrej has a link for that too.  Am asked to lead one of the remote mapping teams… point out that I might be a little short on internet soon.  One of the local mappers that the remote team has been worrying about has made it to…

Crisis Data Management

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 http://tasks.hotosm.org/. 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….

Crisis Data Management

Ruby Day 3: OpenStreetMap’s birthday party

I couldn’t persuade any taxis to come out here for an early-morning pickup, so up at 5:30am to catch the 6am bus to Manila.  Well, buses: the first one breaks down, and I’m given enough money back from my ticket to find another bus to Manila. The other passengers wave one down, and I put myself back in the hands of the transport gods. Bus 3 is from Manila’s main bus terminal, a rundown old mall on the waterside. Most transport comes through there, and it already looks packed to capacity. 4 hours after I start, I get to the event: the last bus drops me in the middle of traffic (literally: 3 lanes to cross to get to safety) but the first car I see is an empty taxi – the transport gods have been good to me today. Celina rocks the crowd at the OSM event (nobody leaves,…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby day 2: E-Camp

This day is hectic. We start with an early-morning breakfast and presentation run-through, then head out to the event.  There are people here from mongolia, cambodia, vietnam, the philippines, india, sri lanka, japan, indonesian, USA (erm… just me, aka the token white dude), all working together to improve education through communities, with tech as an enabler (not, note, as the end-point of each idea). There’s lots of work on citizen participation, and I have a great time hanging out with a mix of public-school teachers, government officials and designers. CheckMySchool is the working school-reporting system (SMS, parents, children, ownership et al) that I’ve seen other countries try to build, Bantay.ph is doing similar for government services and one of the local telecoms companies (Smart) has done interesting work on classrooms based on tablets. The thing that they all have in common is that they’re designed as systems, not technologies, and…

Crisis Data Management

Ruby Day 1: To Tagatay

I’m geeking out about disaster preparation and response today (I’m also doing my day job work, as part of a promise to work-from-philippines for the next 2 weeks).  We talk about Ebola (I’ve been quietly doing bits where I can on the Ebola data response, and my friend is worried that with filipinos coming back from West Africa there’ll be an outbreak here too).  As i came in the airport, there were Ebola screeners but the early-morning flight from Tokyo seemed to look like low risk. Tracking an outbreak response across hundreds of islands would be a little different to, say, Sierra Leone – hospitals here are mostly private and unmapped, and transport estimates would be much more complex than the road time mapping that the OpenStreetMap crowd have been doing on the Ebola response recently.  A new event’s shown up on the radar for the weekend, using local drone…

Crisis Data Management

Typhoon Ruby

When I came to the Philippines, my sister begged me to write a diary like the Tanzania one – a log of what I was doing and seeing that she could compare her own experiences in the area with.  But the past few days I’ve stayed with friends and worked with colleagues, and it somehow seemed wrong and less interesting to focus a diary on that. But all the talks and sessions (and talk and session preparation) are over, and it occurred to me that people might just be interested in a diary about what it’s like to wait for and be here after a supertyphoon (I know. D’oh). When I left for the Philippines, I checked the weather forecasts.  It’s the anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda, but there weren’t any big warnings out about typhoon season, and it all felt pretty quiet.  I googled “typhoon” in the news, and…

Crisis Data Management

Whither crisismapping?

[Cross-posted from OpenCrisis.org] Crisismapping has never been just about Twitter feeds; it’s always been about data.  But what data, and how do we know what’s useful?  I’ve been looking back over 4 years of archived data to start answering that one.  In truth, I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis.  I see all the “big data” work on social media feeds, and although I can swing an AWS instance and the NLTK toolkit like a data nerd, for me personally, that’s not where the value of crisismapping has been. It’s been about the useful, actionable data, and about connecting the people who have it with the people who need it. And whilst some of that data lies hidden in Twitter streams and Facebook requests, most of it is already on people’s servers and hard drives, often in formats that can’t be combined or understood easily. So, some first…

Crisis Data Management

Maps of Maps

[Cross-posted from OpenCrisis.org] I amused myself last night by answering one of my burning questions, namely “can I make a better list of crisis maps out of all the partial lists I have lying around”. Here’s the original map of Ushahidis: Here’s a copy of the draft results (i you want edit access to the real thing, just ask… and blame the spammers for this – they’re even targetting maps now) – my other unanswered questions include whether there’s been a drop-off, rise or steady number of new maps, and how the categories lists have changed over the past few years (I’ll put the scraper for that into github). And here, for balance, are some Esri crisis maps. Because I just downloaded their WordPress plugin, and it’s, kinda, playtime.