Friday, November 2, 2012

Friendly Neighbor Friday: Analyze CAP Imagery and Help Out Victims of Hurricane Sandy

It's what any friendly neighbor would do - lend a hand when someone next door has experienced bad times. Given how small the world has become via the Internet, here's an opportunity to help your "neighbors" along the East Coast of the United States.

Following Sandy's arrival onshore, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) has been busy flying photo missions to help document the extent of the damage. These photo collects are then used to create initial damage estimates and a plan for the deployment of recovery resources by FEMA and State Emergency Management organizations.  As of this writing, there are now 882 photos in this collection, which has been linked to a "grid map" based on, you guessed it, the U.S. National Grid

Because of the large volume of photos being collected, and the limited number of official bodies available to analyze and classify the images, this process needs help. As a result, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team is sponsoring an effort to pre-screen the photos by using the power of the crowd. It's a simple, easy and effective process that pretty much anyone can participate in. Here's how it works: 

1. Go to this web page:
2. Click: "More images from Sandy" along the top bar.
3. Click on each photo to see a larger view.
4. Rate the damage you see by clicking the colored bar below each photo using the following guidelines: 

  • Green: Light or No Damage: shingles or doors missing.
  • Yellow: Moderate Damage: moderate to heavy damage to one or more structures, roads, and infrastructure. Some structures may be only lightly damaged.
  • Red: Severe Damage: heavy damage to multiple structures, or if the area is still flooded.

5. Move on to the next photo and repeat.  

Clicking "grid" along the top bar will open a map that when "zoomed in on", will deliver a sense of the situation - the individual judgments about building damages are aggregating to the map from the pictures. The south shores of New Jersey are almost entirely covered by green squares (grids), whereas the Connecticut coastline is almost entirely covered by red squares.  This map feature currently does not work in IE, so make sure you fire up Chrome or Firefox if you want to have a look-see of the map.

Comment: Kudos to all involved - great use of volunteers to create an output that has value on many levels!

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