Here’s an NPR profile of crisis mapper Patrick Meier, who was spurred into action by the 2010 Haitian earthquake and later went on to co-found the Digital Humanitarian Network.
With the Haiti earthquake, he had a chance to put everything he’d been thinking about into practice. He and some friends and colleagues began pulling information from social media—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube videos—and added it to a base map to start to get a picture of the damage in Haiti. They plotted points on the map in red dots, indicating pharmacies that were open, which ones did and didn’t have medicines, which roads were blocked, where people were trapped under rubble and needed help.
As the days went on, the effort attracted thousands of volunteers from 40 countries around the world, all wrangling tweets, text messages, videos, emails, Facebook posts and other messages. A special toll-free number was set up for people in Haiti to send text messages about their conditions and whereabouts. Meanwhile, Meier and his team in the U.S., including members of Haitian diaspora, worked around the clock, funneling a flood of information into a constantly evolving map.