“Found my boat on Google Crisis Maps!” one of my friends posed on Facebook this morning. “Looks good!”
Not everyone who utilizes Google Crisis Maps will be so fortunate.
Google Crisis Maps is an online tool that curates post-crisis information, in this case the superstorm Sandy. The two maps of current interest to our readers are the 2012-Sandy map and the in-depth 2012-Sandy-NYC map of New York City.
Use the maps for tons of functions, including:
- view Post-Sandy imagery
- find shelters
- find working public transportation
- find food distribution points
- find open pharmacies, gas stations, food stores, hotels, and restaurants
- monitor power outages
- track Twitter feeds from government agencies like FEMA as well as local emergency twitter feeds
- view related videos
- find out where you can volunteer to help in relief efforts
Where I live outside of Philadelphia, my family was spared any impact greater than a flooded basement and some downed rain gutters. But I’m still searching the Google Crisis Maps to see how my friends’ neighborhoods are doing in New York and New Jersey, and to see how our favorite beach communities have fared.
Long Beach Island, NJ, a fragile barrier island, was very hard-hit at the south end, but I was relieved to see that Barnegat Lighthouse was still standing. My husband and I got married there in 1995; we now visit each summer with our kids.
Google has contracted with the news curation and verification service Storyful to verify the videos that are included, which should weed out fake videos of sharks swimming up the Jersey Turnpike.
The maps are part of Google’s Crisis Response Project, which aims to make critical information more accessible in times of disaster. “When disaster strikes, people turn to the internet for information,” says the website. “We help ensure the right information is there in these times of need by building tools to collect and share emergency information, and by supporting first responders in using technology to help improve and save lives.”
(Photo Credits: Google Crisis Maps)