Category: Helena Wright

How do maps help in a disaster?

In my final week here at the Red Cross, I have been finding out more about using maps for disaster risk management.  Maps are used in a range of situations in the disaster risk management cycle, from pre-disaster prevention to post-disaster recovery. This will be the topic of my final blog.

Understanding vulnerability using maps

Rapid population growth and unplanned urbanisation, combined with extreme climate events are causing an increase in vulnerability of communities exposed to disasters.

This means there is a great need to use information to plan ahead.  With the internet and new technologies, a vast amount of information is now available to use.

The Fast-Paced World of Disaster Response

It has been a busy and exciting week here at the British Red Cross.

The week began with the earthquake in the Philippines.  A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol, Philippines, close to the major city of Cebu.  The team were on hand to quickly draw information from multiple sources, including from the US Geographical Survey (below).

Earthquake in Bohol, Philippines, Source: USGS

What is a ‘Data Scramble’?

Rapidly drawing map information from many sources is useful to help the internal Red Cross response to a disaster.  This is known as a ‘data scramble’ and involves a team of several people all looking at different sources to gather information.

US Government Shutdown Prevents Access to Disaster Data

Using Data for Disaster Maps

In the second week of my placement at the British Red Cross, I have been helping to make a flooding map of Southern Africa.  We have been marking out the areas affected by flooding, cyclone and cholera in Southern Africa in the past 5 years (see below).  As I mentioned last week, the GIS team support the work of the Red Cross both here in the UK and abroad.

Map to show the areas in Southern Africa affected by flooding, cholera and cyclones in the past 5 years

The map is to help the logistics team decide where to put equipment warehouses containing non-food equipment for disaster relief.  Other factors to consider include access to transport links and the political context.

Mapping Disasters at the British Red Cross

This week, I started my placement at the British Red Cross in London.  The GIS team play an important and vital role here in the work of the British Red Cross, providing map services to the other departments.

At the start of the week, I joined a corporate strategy meeting and found out about the seven fundamental principles that guide the work of the Red Cross, which include neutrality and impartiality. British Red Cross strategy is formed through an inclusive process of stakeholder engagement.

Back at the GIS team, I have been getting to know the British Red Cross mapping tools and systems.