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Micromappers lets anyone become a digital humanitarian

Author: Ayana Byrd
Published Date: 4 December 2013

Written by Ayana Byrd

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, that familiar feeling of helplessness was palpable: Other than donating money, what can most of us do? Utilize social media, of course! MicroMapper is a new technology that can quickly assist with relief efforts in disaster areas around the globe and transform anyone with Internet access into a digital humanitarian.

Cocreated by Patrick Meier, the director of social innovation at Qatar Computing Research Institute, MicroMapper collects disaster-related tweets (which contain geolocation information) that may be asking for or offering help, reporting that there are injured people, cautioning others to stay away because a building, road, bridge, or some other infrastructure is damaged or destroyed--or it may be a tweet that doesn’t contain any factual information but instead is simply offering sympathy for the victims. To sort through what’s helpful and what isn’t requires volunteers.

People anywhere in the world can log on to, sign up, and become activated to use the TweetClicker to categorize the tweets into four categories: "request for help," "infrastructure damage," "not relevant," and "not English." The ImageClicker employs the same idea for photos, and they are grouped based on the amount of damage shown, from severe to none.

For an image or tweet to move to the next phase, three volunteers must look at it and click. Only those marked “relevant” by all three are passed along to more skilled volunteers who use it to construct a map, which is sent to agencies providing aid on the ground that need the most up-to-date status of an area. The maps not only keep ground workers safer, but they let agencies know which areas are in most dire need of assistance and what kind of help they require.

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Originally posted by: Fastcompany