Facebook Leverages Data to Help Communities Recover and Rebuild

Facebook wants to use its wealth of data to better help communities recover and rebuild following disasters.

“Traditional communication channels are often offline and it can take significant time and resources to understand where help is desperately needed,” explains Molly Jackman, public policy research manager for Facebook. “Facebook can help response organizations paint a more complete picture of where affected people are located so they can determine where resources—like food, water and medical supplies —are needed and where people are out of harm’s way.

This week Facebook introduced disaster maps that use aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organizations address the critical gap in information they often face when responding to natural disasters.

This initiative is the product of close work with UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme, and other organizations, according to Jackman. It’s based on a variety of datasets:

  • Location density maps show where people are located before, during and after a disaster.
  • Movement maps illustrate patterns of movement between different neighborhoods or cities over a period of several hours.
  • Safety Check maps are based on where our community uses Safety Check to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster.

“As more people connect on Facebook, we can share insights to help organizations understand who’s in danger, who’s safe, and where to send resources,” said Mark Zuckerberg in a statement. “This is part of creating safe communities, and we will keep doing more initiatives like this to help.”