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 de-identified 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.
WhatsApp pilot helps tsunami response
Using Facebook Geoinsights, UNICEF was able to confirm internet connectivity was still functioning in the affected area which opened up a new opportunity by working with WhatsApp in the aftermath of the tsunami to quickly collect needs and provide information to stay alive. Photo credit to © UNICEF/UN0240792/Wilander. Rido Saputra, 10 years old, stands in front of his home which was destroyed by a tsunami in Donggala Regency, Central Sulawesi.
Facebook Disaster Maps and the Philippines Red Cross
The Philippines Red Cross was first introduced to Facebook's Disaster Maps tool during Typhoon Ompong. They used it as a tool to identify which areas had no network connection or electricity, and ultimately to decide which areas to send help to first.
Improving the reach of online tools in Guatemala
After 2018's volcanic eruption in Guatemala, UNICEF used Facebook network coverage data to reach 3,000 people with vital information on safety and recovery.
In the News
Please email the Disaster Maps team if you're interested in becoming an NGO partner.