To my British ears “Matthew” sounds like a nice, quiet, respectable sort of character. Hurricane Matthew certainly isn’t any of those things. Ferocious winds and rain are affecting many communities across the Caribbean with flooding, tidal surges and possible disease expected on top of any direct damage.
Historically Standby Task Force waited to be activated by responders on the ground. This year we have changed our criteria so that we can self-activate if we think the circumstances justify it. That is what we have done for Hurricane Matthew. This means we can start processing data early and get useful information to responders on the ground quickly. We activated in the morning UTC on 4 October 2016.
So far 50 volunteers have joined the deployment team on Slack. We’ve focused on locating official sources and data about countries including Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas. We’ve started collating and geolocating news and social media reports and looking for images of affected areas. Our colleagues at QCRI are running data collection through AIDR ready for MicroMappers to be deployed (how many bits of jargon can I fit into a single sentence). Our GIS-focused volunteers are working in a number of projects including a very useful layer of place names for Google Maps.
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped so far.
There is much more to do
It is early days in terms of our deployment and in terms of assessing the impact and aftermath of Matthew. We haven’t yet published any products and we are talking to formal responders about what products would be particularly helpful to them. Right now we are focusing on reports of infrastructure damage or problems with transport.
If you are working to help communities affected by Matthew please get in touch so we can tailor our products to your needs.
There is plenty of work to do. As always with Standby Task Force many hands make light work. If you can spare even an hour, please join the #hurricane-matthew channel in Slack (shout if you can’t find it). If you aren’t a SBTF volunteer, why not join now.