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GISCorps volunteers assist in Ecuador Earthquake relief activities

In April 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake claimed the lives of over 650 people in north western Ecuador. Shortly after the quake, GISCorps was contacted by the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) to assist with delivering maps to meet key information needs of field-based decision makers. Five volunteers were deployed to the project. They are:  Billee McGinley, Ellie Rusack, David Zand, Jane Desbarats and Joel Irish. The following report was written by Helen Campbell, DHN representative.

Delivering maps to meet key information needs of field-based decision makers

For a number of years, there has been recognition of the problem that the ever increasing quantities of data and information reaching field-based decision makers during emergencies is becoming overwhelming.  In the absence of a clearly-defined structure to help field-based decision makers to pin-point the right information products at the right time, there is a high likelihood that useful information products will never make it into the hands of the right decision makers.

In recognition of this, the Decision Makers Needs Community of Interest produced a Decision Makers Taxonomy, and held a meeting, in which key questions and information needs of decision makers were identified.  The Consultative Group on Emergency Preparedness and Response also established a Focused Task Force on Information Needs of key Decision Makers in the first 72hrs of emergency response, who also defined key decision-points in emergencies and the key questions that need to be answered at these decision points.

To operationalise all this work, the Decision Makers Needs Community of Interest produced this Map Filter for the emergency in Ecuador, based on the key questions identified above.  It allows people to filter maps based the questions they need the map to help answer, the key datasets they need to see on the maps, and the date of production of the map.  The Map Filter was designed and continually updated by a volunteer from the Tableau Service Corps.  For the filter to work, it was vital to have people with experience in map interpretation to classify the maps based on potential map use.  This map classification was done by 5 volunteers from GISCorps – it required monitoring maps posted to ReliefWeb and then creating detailed map metadata that could then be used in the map filter.  Having GISCorps volunteers from across the globe meant that the filter was able to be continually updated around the clock during the first few weeks of the response.

We have already received initial positive responses from OCHA and the UK’s Department for International Development.  We will be carrying out a full review of the system to improve it for use in the next response, and we very much hope to be able to partner with GISCorps again!

Thanks as always to GISCorps for your amazing team of professional and enthusiastic volunteers!

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