3 Dec 2016

Mapping natural disasters with digital technology

From This Way Up, 12:30 pm on 3 December 2016

Patrick Meier uses a blend of publicly available data, eyewitness accounts. social media posts and drone technology to build up detailed pictures of places after earthquake, tsunami or other natural disasters strike.

It's called 'crisis mapping' – basically using technology to get help as quickly as possible to the people who need it most.

Meier became really interested in the area after his fiancee was uncontactable in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake, which killed over 220.000 people. Unable to call her to check that she was safe, he started building up a map of the damage from the media, online reports and videos using the free and open source mapping platform Ushahidi. This was updated in real time and shared with anyone who wanted to see.

Now Meier's mission, which he calls digital humanitarianism, is stretching into the Pacific. He's working with the Australian Red Cross to explore the use of drone technology for mapping and disaster recovery work.