When we think of use cases for geodata, the first applications that tend to come to mind can seem a little overbearing—microtargeted advertising, spying, and geopolitics, for instance. But now that geospatial data is flowing from every smartphone in the world, as well as a new fleet of drones and nanosatellites, it’s becoming integral to a much broader range of applications that are built on these new data sources. We explore some of these applications in this chapter.
In order to mount effective responses, emergency managers need accurate maps that show the extent of damage, predictions for its potential spread, and detailed data on the movement of people and resources.
Ten years ago, geospatial data wasn’t rich enough to map granular, real-time movements of people and resources even in developed countries. Now that smartphones are ubiquitous around the world, disaster relief agencies are able to use geospatial data that goes down to the level of individuals, as well as maps showing key infrastructure and up-to-date damage assessments created on the fly, in order to manage response efforts.
The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), discussed in Chapter 4, provides fast geospatial intelligence services during humanitarian crises. On October 3, 2016, as Hurricane Matthew bore down on the Caribbean, HOT activated a team to provide accurate, up-to-date maps of coastal areas in Jamaica, Haiti, and the Bahamas. A few days later, ...