By ANDRES CORREA
The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy has been so devastating that it has dominated the news cycles all week, even though we are less than a week away from a general presidential election. Rightfully so, there has been an avalanche of reactions through social media and online resources. One of these reactions has come from Google, who have a crisis map to help locals deal with Hurricane Sandy.
The Hurricane Sandy crisis map is an interactive feature very similar to Google Maps. Before the storm hit, it was dedicated to keeping citizens updated on the path of the hurricane. Now, in the aftermath of Sandy, the crisis map is leading those on the northeast in the direction of Red Cross safety shelters and other necessary resources. The sidebar on the map also leads to more information including traffic conditions and flooding estimates.
The sidebar also contains webcams in the area so that people across the nation could catch a glimpse of the conditions in the northeast. This feature also contains YouTube videos that survivors of the massive storm have posted online. The social-news agency Storyful has been put in charge of verifying these videos, as well as locating them in pins on the map. This is just the latest example of how online resources are helping people across the globe understand the struggles of those in a small portion of the world.
The Google interactive Hurricane Sandy map is a benchmark for how online resources can help citizens prepare for an oncoming crisis. Using information from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and other weather resources, the crisis map has helped people avoid the path of the storm and helped others find help in the aftermath. It has also worked to inform the global community of the destruction caused by the storm so that individuals would feel inspired to donate. This effort by the Google team will most likely become the future of crisis awareness.