Facebook, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and SEEDS in India, a non-profit body, have partnered to roll out tools to help them respond to natural disasters more effectively. The ‘disaster maps data’ will help by showing people’s movement and concentration areas before and after a calamity.
Ritesh Mehta, Facebook’s Head of Programs (India, South and Central Asia) has said that the release of these tools were to make response efforts to natural disasters in India more efficient. He added, “During and after these crises, response organisations need accurate information to help communities response, recover and rebuild. Talking about the methods used currently he said, “Traditional communication channels are often offline and it can take significant time and resources to understand where help is desperately needed.”
Facebook released disaster maps globally in June. It uses aggregated location information which users have chosen to share with Facebook.
While the tools have already been deployed in Peru and the US, India played a role on providing insights for its development too. Chaya Nayak, Public Policy Research Manager at Facebook, says, “We saw people using Facebook intensively during Chennai floods to connect and extend support to each other.”
The social networking platform already has the safety check feature which allows users to mark themselves and notify their families and friends, as safe. Facebook will also be supporting the pilot of Aapda Samachar Karyakarta-Disaster Information Volunteers (ASK-DIV) scheme wherein a network of volunteers, with trained expertise, will share supplementary information to inform relief efforts from the government through Facebook Workplace platform. The pilot programme will be carried out in the disaster-prone states of Assam and Uttarakhand.