This week has seen disasters and destruction on an unprecedented scale, and the HOT Community has activated to respond. Hurricane Irma is the largest Hurricane ever recorded, and has torn death and destruction through the Caribbean. Destruction on some islands is estimated at 95%, affecting the lives of 1.2 million so far, and on track to cause severe destruction across the entire Florida State, where mass evacuation is currently underway. Barbuda’s prime minister, Gaston Browne, described the damage as absolutely heart-wrenching. ‘The island is literally under water and barely habitable,’ Browne said. ‘About 95% of properties are damaged, there is a serious threat of disease. Additionally, those already affected by Irma fear a second brutal battering by Hurricane Jose.'”
Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action? Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency. Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are most vulnerable to natural disasters. Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets. My students and I join OpenStreetMap (OSM) projects, especially when there is a major humanitarian need…it’s a great way to make service learning and geospatial technologies come together. The projects that are marked urgent by the Red Cross are all in Haiti right now. Here are is a video playlist that explains the project and how you can help if you are new to OpenStreetMap (OSM).