Man Uses Ushahidi And Drones To Create “Crisis Maps” Of Disasters
” Back in January 2010, Patrick Meier, a Ph.D. student in international relations at Tufts University, was checking email at home, with CNN on in the background, when he was jolted by a breaking news alert. An earthquake had struck Haiti, and tens of thousands were feared dead.
” I froze,” he says. “Just paralyzed.”
His girlfriend, Christine Martin, a fellow student whom he wanted to marry, was doing research in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Meier tried everything he could think of – phone calls, social media, Skype, text messages – to get in touch with her or anyone else who might know if she was safe, but couldn’t get a response.
” It was one of those life and death moments when everything stops,” he recalls, “and you know this moment will define what trajectory the rest of your life takes. Either the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with is no longer there, and that’s completely changing my life. Or the person is safe and alive, and will come home and I’ll get to marry her and spend the rest of my life with her.”
Sitting around and waiting wasn’t an option. “I’m going to go crazy if I don’t do something,” he remembers thinking.
What Meier decided to do was create a map – a real-time, constantly updated, online map of the earthquake damage that could be shared widely to help aid efforts.”