The Face of Relief

Facebook and relief organizations are teaming up to gather data and create disaster maps in the wake of natural disasters. The social media site is partnering with UNICEF, The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and The World Food Program to start, with more to be added at a later date, according to the Facebook newsroom.

"When there's a flood, earthquake, fire or other natural disaster, response organizations need accurate information quickly about where people are in order to save lives," posted Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "The problem is that when traditional communication channels like phone lines are down, it can take too much time to figure out where people need help."

The disaster maps will use aggregated, aggregated, de-identified Facebook data in order to inform relief organizations about areas that most need assistance, such as:

  • Location density maps showing present day populations before, during and after a disaster, as well as comparisons to historical records such as population estimates based on satellite imaging.
  • Movement maps showing patterns of different neighborhoods or cities over a period of several hours.
  • Safety Check maps for user that opted in to the Facebook program for notifying friends and family.