Crowdmapping the Van Earthquake in Turkey with Al Jazeera

Our colleagues at Al Jazeera launched this Crowdmap within hours of the earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on October, 23, 2011. The crisis map includes information on needs, help facilities and salvage work. Most of the information mapped on the Al Jazeera deployment was sourced from this wordpress blog. As is becoming standard practice, a disclaimer in the green message area just above the map notes that Al Jazeera cannot guarantee the accuracy of all the information provided on the map, which means that users/viewers of the information should make their own assessment regarding the validity of the reports and use the contact numbers  and links provided to investigate the information themselves.

Right after launching their Crowdmap, Al Jazeera reached out to us for support, but less on the technical side than the volunteer side. So I sent out a call for volunteers to the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) and received dozens of replies within minutes. At last count, there were 42 volunteers on the dedicated Al Jazeera Crowdmap Skype chat. Volunteers included included Suha Ulgen, Assistant to the UN’s Chief Information and Technology Officer for the Secretary-General, and students currently taking a crisis mapping course taught by CrisisMappers.net co-founder Dr. Jen Ziemke at JCU. The SBTF is a global network of some 700 volunteers in 70 countries who join the Task Force to train in live crisis mapping and support organizations around the world like the UN when they request help. If you’d like to join, please follow this link.
In the meantime, we’re continuing to support the Al Jazeera team and are already looking at next steps for future deployments of the Ushahidi ecosystem.