The rain inNew Hampshire over the last couple of weeks has caused some significant hardship – not on the scale of New Orleans and its environs, but large for a small state unaccustomed to natural disaster. Jon lives in a region hard hit by flooding and mudslides (not far from me as the crow flies, but I live on top of a hill in more gentle terrain, so didn't experience the problems widely reported in the news). At a time when the outcome was uncertain for his own home, Jon went out on his bicycle to take photos of the area, then wrote a rudimentary application on top of Google Maps to relate those photos to geographic location.
The activities that Jon calls citizen journalism go far beyond letting people click on Google Maps to find out if their own house or property has suffered damage. One of the big failings of emergency response professionals in the New Orleans disaster was the lack of information that reached decision-makers on the severity of the crisis. The participation of citizens in gathering data that could be available to officials with the click of a mouse button could turn a slow and uncoordinated response into an effective and efficient operation.
Posted by Peter Varhol on 10/22/2005 at 1:15 PM
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