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Tufts Crisis Mapping Class » Crisis Mapping » Moroccan Red Crescent Team Google Earth post

Moroccan Red Crescent Team Google Earth post

Moroccan Red Crescent
Madeline Luce, Miriam Ross-Hirsch, Ben Wang, Emily Parker

Benefits and Challenges

As we mapped relevant data on Google Earth, we learned a lot about the benefits and challenges of using this platform. We enjoyed the ability to easily create categories (folders) and then sort data points into these folders. This allowed for easy navigation of the information. Google Earth also allows for the embedding of content, which makes it easier to see what’s going on, serving as a visual accompaniment for any data or information. If one puts enough time into clearly organizing data, it can easily be shared and interpreted. On Google Earth we can additionally see the terrain and land affected. The inability to access updated road and land information is an ongoing problem in crisis mapping, and this is more easily solved with access to (recently updated) satellite images.

While moving data into Google Earth, we did find that it was more technologically advanced than other platforms we had previously encountered. However, once we determined the most appropriate method to input data using the information we learned in class, the data customization process went relatively smoothly. One additional challenge arose during customization is that only one person could work on the map at a time, as it is saved to one individual computer.

Visualization of Data

We chose to create different icons based on the type of information. All points are organized into folder categories for easy cataloging:

This legend serves as an accompaniment to our map for quick interpretation of the different data points.

Customization of data

We decided not to title specific data points (besides IDP camps) so as not to clog up the map with words. This also allowed the category of the data point as indicated by the icon to be easily visualized and interpreted. We created a few sample paths to show potential routes from areas needing water to areas with available water, as well as polygons around areas where more extensive aid is needed. Additionally, we embedded videos, pictures, and websites so that those viewing the map can better familiarize themselves with the area and its history. As a native organization we do understand the area, so a quick visual refresher (such as a video walking tour of Rabat) will be the best way to prepare our volunteers for field work.

What we wanted to convey

Through our map we aimed to determine the relationships between data points, not simply compilations by category as viewed on Crowdmap. The Google Earth platform allows us to better see the relationships between various aid requests. From this compilation, we can extrapolate information such as where a potential IDP camp may be forming and where we most best be of use.

Importance of target audience

This map can be used for several purposes. Within our organization we can utilize our Google Earth map to determine where to send volunteers so that we can reach the most affected individuals possible. Putting our data on Google Earth allowed us to locate citizens’ positions and connect need to aid through paths, and we will hopefully be able to reach these individuals to let them know where to find water.

Path from a hotel with water outages to a restaurant supplying clean water.
We also feel that this map would be a useful resource for individuals outside Morocco to better understand the extend of the damage regarding water and sanitation in Rabat and the surrounding areas. For example, we can reach out for aid from the IFRC with a map clearly displaying need.

Ushahidi vs. Google Earth

From our experience with both Ushahidi and Google Earth, we have determined that an organization should choose between these platforms based on the work they wish to do. Ushahidi should be used if an organization is doing an SMS campaign or the like, something that requires multiple people to have access to and be able to contribute to data in real time. Google Earth is more of a visualization tool, with better visual separation of categories with the ability to create paths and other shapes. It can possibly aid in the implementation of relief efforts of a single organization, as well as spreading the word to those outside the crisis.

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