Stay out of the Way
Just as non-EMTs shouldn’t try to resuscitate someone if an EMT or similarly qualified person is anywhere nearby, trying to learn a mapping program in the middle of a disaster can be a distraction to the experienced administrators running the mapping effort. Your time might be better spent looking at the whole situation with a group such as Standby Task Force. If you join up to a group such as this, be sure to join their training sessions and structure. Here‘s a great explanation of why this is the case.
Oh, You Are Adept at…
Contribute to crowd maps, and read this blog post
Directory of Maps, data sets and map projects (Google, Crowdmap, ESRI)
See the Hurricane Hackers with various projects, not all mapping.
Minimize Replication of Efforts
Having an awareness of existing projects and efforts helps – but be sure to do research before starting something new. Here is one place to see what is going on: https://crowdmap.com/explore/hurricane/ – I’m not going to list more because then we become one more place to disseminate. Find one that works for you and stick with it. Merge when possible.
Try to contribute to existing projects rather than starting your own. Remember if you need to build something which requires direct interaction with people, it’s not just build time but also training time. And things are already chaotic – adding another gear to the works might function more like a wrench than an optimized path.
Here’s a dynamic listing of what different groups are up to right now
Spread the Word
If people on the ground want to say what is going on, please use the Tweak the Tweet formatting for easier automation of data into map structure.
And as always, VERIFY BEFORE RETWEETING
But I Have to Do SOMETHING
Trust me, I know the feeling. It’s ok to build something, to reach out to help, but be sure you are not making an already complex situation more dangerously so.
Organize or attend a CrisisCamp this weekend.
Be Better Prepared in the Future
Take that powerful feeling of empathy and get trained up so you can get involved in the future. Awesome things to study up on:
Mapping : OpenStreetMap, Crowdmap/Ushahidi, etc
EMT training in your area
HAM radio groups in your area