While the availability of open data can assist disaster recovery efforts, too much of it can be overwhelming.
Such was the case following the earthquake in Nepal.
Within hours of the first tremble, individuals and organizations were gathering and publishing data in attempts to reveal a clearer picture of the earthquake’s effects.
By mapping the information available to relief workers in the initial phase of the response — much of which is available on the Humanitarian Data Exchange and ReliefWeb — the value of open data in disaster situations becomes apparent.
The following map series – Open Data: Nepal Earthquake 2015 – helps visualize the earthquake’s impact and identifies critical issues to consider in recovery efforts.
Perhaps most importantly, the mapping exercise uncovered opportunities to provide large vulnerable populations with access to medical care.
In one instance, the map displayed 32,476 internally displaced people (IDP) in proximity to a clinic supported by Direct Relief. In another case, mapping characteristics such as elevation and rainfall in areas that previously experienced landslides helped identify landslide risk in other parts of the country. One high-risk region, in particular, gave cause for concern, as it housed IDP sites.
The takeaway is that mapping open data is a useful tool for disaster response and recovery efforts, especially in fluid situations when rapid updates are crucial. The challenge is sorting through the data quickly to create intelligent maps to inform better decision-making.