Facebook has now introduced a new Maps feature to help response organizations get an accurate information whenever a disaster strikes a particular place. The social media giant is calling it as "disaster maps" and basically this new initiative will improve how people are helped during any calamity be it flood, fire, earthquake or any other natural disaster.
The news comes from Facebook's blog post and the company says that with this new feature it will help response organizations "paint a complete picture of where affected people are located so they can determine where resources - like food, water, and medical supplies - are needed and where people are out of harm's way."
Facebook is working closely with major organizations like UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme, and others for this initiative to be more effective and resourceful. As per the company, the new technology can help keep people safe.
Talking about the functionality of disaster maps, these maps use aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organizations address the critical gap in the information they often face when responding to natural disasters. "Many of these organizations worked with us to identify what data would be most helpful and how it could be put to action in the moments following a disaster," says Molly Jackman, Public Policy Research Manager, Facebook.
Further, Facebook will be providing multiple types of maps during disaster response efforts, which will include aggregated location information people have chosen to share with Facebook.
Firstly there is the Location density map which will show where people are located before, during and after a disaster. Then there is the Movement map which will show patterns of movement between different neighborhoods or cities over a period of several hours. So by analyzing these patterns, response organizations will be able to better predict where resources are needed, predict traffic and formulate suitable patterns of evacuation.
Finally, there is the Safety Check map which makes use of the "Safety Check" feature to help notify your friends and family that you are safe during a disaster. "We are using this de-identified data in aggregate to show where more or fewer people check in safe, which may help organizations understand where people are most vulnerable and where help is needed," says the company.
Facebook will be sharing all the information with trusted organizations that will act on the provided data quickly and provide relief effort in the affected areas. The company has assured though that it has established a mutual understanding with organizations and that they respect Facebook's privacy standards. Besides, Facebook is collaborating with these organizations to "establish formal processes for responsibly sharing the datasets with others."
While that sounds assuring, Facebook has plans to work with additional organizations and governments and participate in this program in future. The company promises "all applications will be reviewed carefully by people at Facebook, including those with local expertise."
In any case, with the introduction of disaster maps, Facebook believes that it has created a platform that will be a valuable source of information which can further help response organizations serve people more efficiently and effectively.