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Hurricane Sandy Google Crisis Map Combines Official and Crowdsourced Info
© Image: Screenshot by Eric Mack/Crowdsourcing.org
editorial

Hurricane Sandy Google Crisis Map Combines Official and Crowdsourced Info

Hurricane Sandy has meterologists all over the country losing their minds, and much of the eastern seaboard shut down before it's come near to shore. The huge storm is on a path to pack a direct and powerful blow to New York City, and then stick around for a few days to deliver damaging rain and winds to the region.

Not surprisingly, tons if preparedness information and other storm data is flying around the Internet, both from official sources (like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Hurricane Center) and from just about everyone else that has taken to social media to share tips and updates. 

Google's non-profit arm has operated a Crisis Response site and map for some years now, and it's swung into action again with a specific map that puts a whole lot of valuable Hurricane Sandy storm data in one place.

In addition to the storm track, current status, weather forecast information and all the other terrifying graphics we've already seen on news broadcasts dozens of times the past few days, Google has added active emergency shelters, traffic conditions and related YouTube videos and webcams from the affected region.

Right now you can click on the map to watch berms being created to hold back the storm surge in Connecticut, Mayor Bloomberg's press conference urging evacuation of parts of New York City and a live shot of the surf pounding New Jersey's Casino Pier, for starters.  Once the storm has made landfall, updates to the map could provide an up-to-the-minute crowdsourced picture of what the impact looks like across more than a dozen states. 

There's also a more targeted map providing even more information for the New York City area. Looking at a downtown Manhattan webcam, rain is already drenching streets that are eerily empty on a Monday morning.

The community-generated data that surrounds a huge weather event like Hurricane Sandy has been virtually impossible to crunch until now, but Google is providing a platform here that could begin to tackle the problem. Integrating updates from Twitter and Facebook would begin to create a more dynamic, block-by-block picture of a natural disaster, provided someone can come up with a killer algorithm to screen out all but the most relevant updates form the crowd.

Good luck to New York and the rest of the East Coast, and if you can do so safely, don't forget to collect some water samples for this citizen science project. 

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