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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping, Disaster Management, Featured, Humanitarian Action » CrowdMap and the MOH

CrowdMap and the MOH

As the Ministry of Health, we began mapping the reports that we received by setting up our Crowd Map online, giving it a reasonably simple name, centering it between Rabat and Sale, and then uploading the reports. Then, we added every member of our group as superadmins, set it to cluster reports, and activated the full screen map add-on.

Before we began to approve reports, we spent a significant amount of time discussing which reports to map, and in the end decided to try and limit our mapped reports to issues that related directly to health needs. We defined these as reports that dealt with healthcare needs (critical and non-critical), medical supplies (needed/available), water, security threats, transportation, people movement, and feedback. We decided that transportation information was key to our response plan and was therefore relevant, as was mapping the location of groups of people to know where the affected populations were congregating. We also included security threats as a category, due to the fact that violence often necessitates medical care as well as poses a potential threat to our volunteers. The only reports excluded were those dealing with food or shelter needs, as our organization will not be involved in alleviating these needs and the reports would therefore unnecessarily crowd our map.

After this decision, we based our categories on the classification system that the Standby Task Force used for their Libya deployment. While we had originally intended to create separate categories for each different health need, we realized that creating different sub-categories under the main theme of “Health” was not only more organized but easier to read and interpret in relation to the other report categories.

In addition, we modeled our categorization of survivor groups and IDP camps off of their system as well; by naming the category “people movement,” we created a general term that could immediately identify the general location of the population on a single layer of the map. “Transportation” and “Security/Threat” are also categories that we based loosely on the Libya deployment crisis map of the Standby Task Force.

As our organization went through the numerous reports, we realized that almost any issue we encountered could arguably be considered a health issue. We had to clearly draw the line as to what problems were health related and which would be better addressed by another organization. For example, we did not include reports requesting tents or food, because as the Ministry of the Health, we decided that they were not directly considered health-related concerns. By creating defined categories and specific subcategories, we were able to focus on the kind of information we were receiving from each report, and organize them in an efficient and useful way. We further discussed the criteria for category/subcategory, which allowed us to create a standardized method of classification. Our main concern came with mapping reports that gave us very general or vague information. Reports that were unconfirmed by other reports were also difficult to utilize, as their verification relied on our own subjectivity.

With this information mapped, we are beginning to know what supplies and aid are needed and where to send them to. We also get a better understanding of how supplies can be distributed, by getting a picture of available roads and other transportation routes, along with danger areas. Crowdmap facilitates our rescue effort as it makes us more focused and provides us with specific information on locations and needs. However, because, to our knowledge, the program doesn’t allow us to layer the different types of information, our data is not entirely streamlined. Given that there are no source links or means of verification, we don’t actually know where exactly the information is coming from, or whether it is true. We should also note that the incidents that are reported still remain only a fraction of the incidents that have taken place because no everyone has the resources and the technology to contact us. Therefore, we need more supplies available than demanded by the reports.

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