Over the past two years, dozens of organizations used Facebook's Data for Good products to improve wellbeing and save lives. Their most profound applications include disaster preparedness projects, vaccination campaigns, and effective deployment of services during times of natural disaster.
Understanding evacuation patterns with social media
In July 2018, a spark near the Mendocino National Forest ignited California’s largest wildfire on record. As the fire spread rapidly, officials declared mandatory evacuations in several areas and counties. But where did people go, when did they leave, and when did they return? Researchers have turned to a new data source to observe population movements during a crisis: social media.
As Storm Threatens New Orleans, Lower Ninth Ward Residents Stay Put
As Tropical Storm Barry pushed toward the coast of Louisiana, people from wealthier New Orleans neighborhoods evacuated, while residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, stayed put. Should the levees break or be over run by floodwater, that whole population will be in severe danger. Data showed a “dramatic drop” in population in relatively well-off New Orleans neighborhoods including Uptown, Downtown, Mid-City and the French Quarter, while residents of the Lower Ninth Ward stayed largely in place.
Facebook opens Disaster Maps for foundations involved in Taal operations
Facebook has opened its Disaster Maps for foundations who are conducting relief and rescue operations in areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption. Information from Facebook showed that the maps were used by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to track down Batangas and Cavite residents displaced by the heavy ashfall — families who eventually fled to evacuation centers.
Port Explosion in Beirut, Lebanon
Population movement analysis based on aggregated data from Facebook shows significant reductions in population density in the downtown Beirut area as well as volatility in population hotspots towards the northeast and southwest of the port area where the blast occurred.
Amid Hurricane Sally, People Are Moving – Just Not the Way They Usually Do
As Sally was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, people were moving - just not moving quite the way they usually do. In the area of Florida most affected by wind shear, there were about 2.8% fewer people than usual. But what sets evacuees of the current storm – and its immediate predecessor, Hurricane Laura – apart is one striking fact: remarkably few of them were showing up in shelters. (Photo courtesy of Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency)
Displacement, Gender Disparities, and Shelter Utilization after Hurricane Laura
Data from Facebook and Camber Systems highlights patterns of movement as people moved to shelter from the hurricanes that landed on the Gulf Coast in the early part of September. First, we can see the estimated change in the population of devices from Facebook data. The difference in densities between counties can be seen by comparing the percentage change of the population with an estimated absolute change extrapolated using the American Community Survey (ACS) data from the US Census.