Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bucket Club

An environmental nonprofit called the Louisiana Bucket Brigade has created an online crisis-map that is crowd-sourcing reports of health problems, job loss, water quality issues and other news about the Gulf Coast oil spill as its impact spreads. The group is using social media -- including mobile video, email, and text-messaging -- to aggregate eyewitness accounts from people living in the coastal crisis zone. Organizers are then plotting these reports, in near real-time, on a Web-based map to track the spread of environmental and economic impact.

In this way, the New Orleans-based nonprofit hopes to build on work done by online crisis-mapping pioneer Ushahidi, which developed crisis-mapping technology in Kenya in 2008 to track the spread of post-election violence. More recently, Ushahidi created a crisis-map in Haiti to help aid workers identify which areas needed the most urgent help in the hours and days following the January 12 earthquake.

According to Anne Rolfes, the founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, "this is a tool for all of us to understand the extent of the damage. We are trying to compile and map eyewitness accounts of the spill's effects in real-time." In that work, the group -- fighters for better air and water quality in New Orleans and California -- is partnering with specialists at Tulane University. Ushahidi also is providing coaching and mapping help to the group.

Reports to the Louisiana Bucket Brigade can be made and viewed here, and mobile phone users living in the area re being asked to text reports to (504) 27 27 OIL.

Chief benefits of crowd-sourced crisis maps? Aggregating citizen reports of a crisis can lead aid workers to better target supplies, doctors to better deploy medics and environmental workers to better plan for ways to combat the crisis over time.

How else are social media being used to help spill victims living along the Gulf Coast? Let us hear from you if you have new examples to share.

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Anonymous Mark Peters said...

Thanks for sharing. Seems like a great project and one worthy of attention. I'll tweet about this today.

May 7, 2010 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Marcia Stepanek said...

Thanks, Mark -- yes, it's one of a variety of citizen efforts. See also http://www.justmeans.com/Gulf-Oil-Spill-Inspires-Social-Innovation/14290.html.

May 7, 2010 at 12:12 PM  

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