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Hurricane Barry made landfall near Intracoastal City, Louisiana on the afternoon of July 13, 2019. While barely reaching Category 1 status, the slow moving storm impacted areas which have been under continual flood threat throughout recent months. Accessibility to low lying areas of the coast and interior flooding was a grave concern with predicted rainfall of up to 20 inches.

As in previous years, to enhance situational awareness for first responders and emergency managers, National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation (NAPSG) Programs Manager (and GISCorps volunteer) Paul Doherty activated an ArcGIS Online web-based application to facilitate collection and mapping of on-the-ground photos of hurricane-affected areas. Based on Esri’s Story Map Crowdsource template, the NAPSG 2019 Hurricanes Crowdsourced Photos app allows volunteers and the public to post photos of affected areas, geolocate those photos to the town level or better, and provide brief descriptions and source information.

NAPSG requested support from GISCorps to kick off the season. Due to the limited amount of time available to on-board new contributors, volunteers were requested from  a pool that was already familiar with the workflow. For each photo, volunteers pinpointed the location of the image using visual clues and accompanying descriptions, uploaded the photo to the Crowdsourced Photos app, and collaborated in a Slack channel.

In further support of this effort, Rob Neppell of Crowd Emergency Disaster Response (CEDR) Digital Corps configured an experimental Slack channel populated by Zapier with auto-gathered tweets based on geographic place names and relevant keywords. GISCorps member Erin Arkison developed a custom AGO dashboard to motivate and track volunteer efforts.

A small team of volunteers took shifts vetting each photo contribution for relevance, locational accuracy, and attribute completeness using the Esri Crowdsource Manager application. By the end of the mission, ten volunteers contributed over 50 hours geo-locating 132 photos sourced from social media. The map was used directly by the FEMA Crowdsourcing Unit in the National Response Coordination Center. 

GISCorps volunteers Erin Arkison, Dacey Zelman, Paul Paddock, Imoh Engwoh, Tobias Schoen, Jill Sadowski, Alix Bosniere-Vezina, Sonal Raisinghani, Holly Torpey, and German Whitley all provided contributions to  the effort.

It is anticipated that the workflow for this project will be replicated during each major storm of the 2019 hurricane season.

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