NPR last month, reporting on a problem with FEMA’s flood insurance maps: they’re not keeping up with reality. “FEMA’s insurance maps are based on past patterns of flooding. Future sea level rise—which is expected to create new, bigger flood zones—is not factored in. So some communities are doing the mapping themselves. Like Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland.” [Leventhal]
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.
As part of an article looking at semi-automatic weapons being sold online, NPR produced the above map, which shows the locations of classified listings on Armslist (a website described as “the Craigslist of guns”) between 12 and 15 June 2016 (i.e., immediately after the Orlando nightclub shooting). About 90 percent of Armslist listings had location data; about one in four of these listings are for semi-automatic weapons. [Maps on the Web]