We noted this week how social media plays a crucial role in crowdsourcing information about natural disasters in the Philippines. Now Google has launched its crisis response map especially tailored for this week’s tropical storm Maring that’s already affected the Metro Manila area and more than 10 provinces in the country. It is now causing knee- or waist-deep flooding in these areas. Google’s crisis response map aims to help Philippine citizens monitor the local situation and map the affected areas. This is similar to last year when Google also provided a crisis response map at the height of the nation’s flood crisis.
The map can be a resource for people who need rescue and those individuals and organizations who want to reach out and help the affected communities. It shows areas in the Philippines now declared in a state of calamity, and locations of evacuation centers and shelters for those people affected by the flooding.
It also shows the path of the tropical storm, the 24-hour and three-day accumulated rainfall, and flood forecast. Google has partnered with different crisis response organizations to centralize information on the site. It tapped the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office to provide evacuation center locations. It has also linked other organizations’ sites within the portal such as RescuePH, the Philippine government’s crisis response portal, and emergency hotlines. This information can be accessed either on a web or mobile browser. Netizens can also help by sharing the link to others, or embed it in their websites.
Apart from the Google crisis response map, there’s also the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology’s Project Noah, a weather mapping tool available through web and mobile. These sites can be handy during the rainy season, and also because we don’t know when disaster will strike.
(Editing by Steven Millward and Paul Bischoff)
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