In the wake of a disaster, Disaster Maps share real-time information with response teams, helping them determine things like whether communities have access to power and cellular networks, if they have evacuated, and what services and supplies they need most.
Disaster Maps use statistical techniques to maintain individuals' privacy. For example, we only share privacy-protected information and also add up data points in a given area (called a map 'cell' or a 'tile') to prevent re-identification. If there are only a few individuals in an area, we also smooth populations across tiles, meaning that we average the number of people in a given area with nearby areas, making it even harder to re-identify anyone.
Disaster Maps can be generated within 24 hours of a natural disaster — much faster than comparable tools— and update daily as the situation on the ground unfolds. This allows agencies to respond to changing circumstances in evacuations, connectivity, or supply needs.
Since the launch of Disaster Maps in June 2017, we have generated data for 100+ natural disasters, helping to guide response efforts around the world. During the 2018 hurricane season, our maps informed active disaster recovery in India, Guatemala, Indonesia, the Philippines, California, North Carolina, Florida, and other disaster-affected locations around the world.
Who Uses Disaster Maps
International agencies and UN organizations like UNICEF and the World Food Programme use Disaster Maps data to guide their local deployments to disaster-affected areas and support local governments in their response efforts.
Domestic organizations like the American Red Cross, SEEDS India, and Humanity Road use Disaster Maps to support their local communities, track evacuations, and route supplies to the areas that need them most.
Universities and researchers
Universities and researchers use Disaster Maps to analyze how disaster-affected populations are using social services, whether they evacuate based on official orders, and how social ties affect their resilience after a disaster.
Cross-Border Mobility Responses to Covid-19 in Europe: New Evidence from Facebook Data
This study by Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research and Universite Catholique de Louvain uses Facebook users’ mobility to study the daily evolution of cross-border movements of people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 To Go? The Role of Disasters and Evacuation in the COVID-19 Pandemic
This study investigates the relationship between disaster damage, sheltering-in-place, evacuation-related mobility, and contagion following Hurricane Zeta in Southeastern Louisiana and The Wildfires in Napa and Sonoma Counties, California, known as the Glass Fire. The study draws on data from the county subdivision level and mapped and aggregated tallies of Facebook user movement. Findings suggest associations between disaster damage and higher rates of COVID-19 cases.
Volcanic Explosion in St Vincent and the Grenadines – Facebook Population Mobility Analysis from April 10th through 17th, 2021
On April 9th, 2021 the La Soufriere volcano in the north of the island of St. Vincent erupted, spewing heavy ash and smoke across the island and much of the surrounding region. An estimated 16,000 persons in the most heavily affected area were evacuated from the island and another estimated 2,000 persons left their homes. Direct Relief conducted a space-time hotspot analysis of population changes based on Facebook's Disaster Maps aggregated population data between April 10th and April 17th, which indicates the magnitude of the population reduction in northern St. Vincent, and the relative shift to southern communities.
Quantifying the dynamics of migration after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
Understanding the population composition and distribution of a region affected by a major natural disaster is vital for the allocation of resources to communities in need and critical to inform mortality estimates. The utilization of social media traces, coupled with mobile phone data, could provide live estimates of post-disaster population changes in disaster-affected areas.
In the News
Please email the Disaster Maps team if you're interested in becoming an NGO partner.