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.
Using Facebook's Disaster Maps data, Direct Relief can tell the rate at which population densities have decreased and increased in certain areas throughout New South Wales, particularly in the dense coastal zone from Wollongong to Bega. Each map shows a snapshot of the relative density of Facebook users with location services enabled at 4pm local time that day.
The Kincade Fire: Population Movement and Displacement
In addition to supporting health centers, medical teams and shelters with access to healthcare supplies, Direct Relief worked with CalOES and Facebook on a daily basis throughout the fire to ensure that the state emergency management team had regular access to maps and useful interpretation of population dynamics based on anonymized and aggregated location data on Facebook's user base.
Facebook Data Has Implications for Disaster Planning
Shenyue Jia, Ph.D., and her colleagues at Chapman’s Center of Excellence in Earth Systems Modeling and Observations (CEESMO) have teamed up with Facebook’s Data for Good initiative to investigate how people behave in disasters. The project aims to use the platform’s Disaster Maps to find patterns of human behavior during crises, information that can help decision makers deploy resources.
Da Nang Signs Partnership With Facebook to Improve Disaster Response
Facebook launched a partnership with the city of Da Nang in July 2019. This is the first time Facebook is partnering with a local government in Vietnam for a public service campaign. The program provides training to Da Nang officials on communicating disaster prevention and responses, using Facebook as a tool for gathering information and establishing communication channels between authorities, officials and the public.
In the News
Please email the Disaster Maps team if you're interested in becoming an NGO partner.