Monday, January 25, 2010

How Informatics can help in a crisis

Today's blog is not about bioinformatics, but another open-source area in informatics that I feel passionate about: open geographical data. The OpenStreetMap (OSM) project provides free geographic data, such as street maps. It is essentially the wiki of the mapping world. In a response to the recent earthquake disaster in Haithi, OSM started the Project Haiti .


In short time so much data has been collected that what was before a largely empty map is now one of the most complete maps of Haiti. Michael Maron posted some before and after images on Flickr:

Before the earthquake (Jan 12th) :

and by Jan 14th:

Beyond just marking roads, there is also an analysis of damaged buildings and displacement camps. This rendering, taken from the OSM wiki, shows damaged buildings and refugee camps mapped within OpenStreetMap.
A few other geographical projects related to Haiti are described at crisiscommons.org .

Resources: