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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping, Disaster Management, Featured, Technology » UNICEF & Crowdmap

UNICEF & Crowdmap

UNICEF Morocco:

In response to the devastating earthquake in Rabat, UNICEF Morocco has pledged its time and resources to citizens of the city. After receiving information from the UN SMS campaign, we decided to compile a map because it would help us to focus our efforts and be more effective in providing our partner NGOs throughout the city with necessary information.

However, many of the difficulties we faced were due to our limited knowledge of the protocols aid workers are expected to follow. This was a highly important realization for our team: if crisis mappers reject certain information or suggest certain actions, there will be real world consequences.

There is great potential for this online community to help, but without reflection and training, there is also much vulnerability to harmful mistakes. Some instances where inadequate knowledge of humanitarian protocols could cause problems:

  • Should one divert medical resources from other areas to treat people who have gotten injured in a riot, particularly men who may have been responsible for violence?
  • What are the responsibilities of aid workers if an area has tremendous need but may not be safe?
  • Should more of necessities such as food and water be brought to a zone if conflicts are arising over them?
  • One of the reports presented a very big dilemma: it described what sounded like a report of sexual abuse by a peacekeeper and asked that no more workers be sent. It was challenging to weigh good vs. additional harm in this instance. This instance also points to the potential importance of a crisis mapping community with a degree of removal from aid and peace keeping institutions so that wrong doing and failures may be more readily brought to light.

    In regards to our process, first, we had to triage all of the information that the SMS campaign provided for us and set up our map online. We had discussions regarding the different categories that we would capitalize upon as well as what information was most pertinent to our short-term and long-term goals. We made sure to keep in mind our target audience and to ensure that our map was highlighting what we are most concerned about. At first, we only made categories for children, resources needed, rescue needed, and medical attention needed. After looking at the reports, we quickly realized that our teams would require information regarding road blocks and riots/violence. Although our priority is the citizens of Rabat, we are also responsible for ensuring the safety of our employees. Therefore, information on violence and road blocks is essential for our teams to know, but not actually “actionable”; we are neither equipped nor responsible for any riots or structural damage.

    Mapping will increase the efficacy of the program we are trying to implement. Our map clearly delineates reports that indicate the presence of children, areas where we will try to reach first. In addition, since we are planning on sharing information with our partner NGOs throughout the city, it’s important for all of the information available to us to be spatially viewed. That way, we can more accurately divide relief and response teams to the appropriate areas.

    The most difficult part of the triaging of information was deciding what would be the appropriate information to relay to our response teams. We wanted to ensure that the map had a distinct focus towards children because they are our target audience. Although that was executed rather effectively, it was difficult discerning what categories to put certain reports under. For instance, we questioned whether we should indicate that violence in the train station would require medical assistance. We eventually decided to put instances such as riot and violence on the map merely as an instance of a road block and an area for our aid workers to avoid. There were also other small problems we faced, such as several reports conflicting or talking about the same thing. We were unsure if two reports talking about the same thing should both be added to the map. In the end we decided to map both. There were also some reports we came across that were just not all that useful, that we did not include. We also did not include reports that talked far too generally about the city, instead sticking to reports with particular areas or neighborhoods within Rabat.

    In the end we feel that the mapping exercise will be helpful to our actions within the city by helping us to locate where our resources can be best distributed. A potential pitfall is that not everyone in need may have had access to technology to submit a report. Some reports may also prove to be inaccurate. Despite these issues and some of our setbacks, we are pleased with the results and are looking forward to working with the data.

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    I am currently a Sophomore at Tufts University studying International Relations and Community Health.

    Filed under: Crisis Mapping, Disaster Management, Featured, Technology · Tags: , , ,

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