by Noah Smith, Direct Relief
Data collection and information tools are informing disaster response to earthquake impacts in the country. As the humanitarian response to last Saturday’s deadly earthquake in Haiti continues, responders face a seminal question: Where is aid most needed? Most often, the answer depends on where the most affected people are located. But in the aftermath of a disaster, especially as digital and transportation networks are reduced, collecting actionable data hasn’t always been a given.
But that has changed, according to Andrew Schroeder, vice president of research and analysis at Direct Relief and co-founder of CrisisReady, a collaboration between Harvard University and Direct Relief.
“Big data analysis has gotten much faster,” Schroeder said, noting that, within days of the earthquake, he has been able to get high-resolution satellite imagery, social media-based data showing population movement, damage assessments from the EU, geocoded news updates, and a landslide risk analysis.