Facebook launches disaster maps, shares info with UNICEF, Red Cross, and World Food Programme
Three types of real-time disaster maps are being shared by Facebook with organisations such as UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the World Food Programme. The goal is to help response organisations save lives and Facebook says the program will be opened to governments in the future.
As response organisations need accurate information after a flood, fire, earthquake or other natural disasters, Facebook says it now provides disaster maps that use aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help them address the critical gap in information they often face when responding to natural disasters.
According to Molly Jackman, Public Policy Research Manager at Facebook, the initiative is a product of close work with UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme, and other organisations.
“It is an example of how technology can help keep people safe, one of our five areas of focus as we help build a global community,” Molly Jackman said.
Facebook will be providing multiple types of maps during disaster response efforts, which will include aggregated location information people have chosen to share with the social network.
Location density maps show where people are located before, during and after a disaster. This information can be compared to historical records, like population estimates based on satellite images. Comparing these data sets can help response organisations understand areas impacted by a natural disaster.
Movement maps illustrate patterns of movement between different neighbourhoods or cities over a period of several hours. By understanding these patterns, response organisations can better predict where resources will be needed, gain insight into patterns of evacuation, or predict where traffic will be most congested.
Safety Check maps are based on where the Facebook community uses Safety Check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster. Facebook is using this de-identified data in aggregate to show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help organisations understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed.
The first organisations Facebook is sharing this information with are UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the World Food Programme.
“We are working with these organisations to establish formal processes for responsibly sharing the datasets with others. Over time, we intend to make it possible for additional organisations and governments to participate in this program. All applications will be reviewed carefully by people at Facebook, including those with local expertise,” Molly Jackman added.