Google Issues Crisis-Response To Oklahoma Tornado


Google creates a crisis-response Web page to assist the tornado-devastated Oklahoma region

Google’s Crisis Response unit moved quickly to create a “crisis map” Web page to help the tornado-devastated community of Moore, Oklahoma.

Google hopes it will help in the clean-up and recovery of the area, after a powerful tornado ripped through the town on 20 May.


The Moore Crisis Map Web page includes a detailed map of the area and the path of the EF5 tornado that ripped apart Moore and nearby communities just south of Oklahoma City.

At least 24 people were killed by the tornado, and hundreds of others were injured. Early estimates place damages so far at about $2 billion (£1.3bn), according to a report by ABC News.

storm cloud disaster tornado road © solarseven ShutterstockThe map also contains links for a wide variety of helpful information so that residents and recovery workers can find information easily in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Included are links for people to make donations to the Red Cross to help victims of the massive tornado, as well as a “Safe and Well” Website where residents who have been impacted can post their information to let friends and family members know that they are safe. Normal communications were made difficult for many when power, phone lines and cell phone towers were knocked out due to the storm.

Other listed Websites on the crisis map include an “OKStrong” information page set up by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin. The site provides residents and others with more information on the status of the clean-up and recovery efforts.

There are also links to the official Twitter page for Oklahoma City as well as for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Visitors to the crisis page map can customise its appearance by removing or adding various map layers so they can view the map in several ways, including as a normal map image or using satellite imagery before and after the tornado tore the area apart. Damaged areas are coded with different colours so that visitors can see the track of the storm and its aftermath.

Also viewable are locations where public shelters are available for victims, and the open or closed status of schools and religious sites, including churches, synagogues and other facilities.

Current traffic on area roadways can also be viewed on the map, along with other information.

Philanthropic Moves

Google’s Crisis Maps come from the company’s philanthropic division, which in January 2012 began a Public Alerts Website to offer important emergency information on storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters and crises. The alerts tell users what’s happening and when, the severity of the disaster and where to go for help.

Google’s Crisis Response team has been providing such information for the last few years, albeit on a more reactive, rather than proactive, basis.

Last October, Google created a crisis-response map that tracked Hurricane Sandy, a powerful storm that pummelled the East Coast of America, leaving devastation in New Jersey, New York and other states. That map displayed a wide range of information layers that detailed the approaching storm, including its location, weather radar, wind-speed probabilities, public alerts, emergency alerts and hurricane evacuation routes.

In August, Google published a Crisis Response map for Tropical Storm Isaac as it approached the US Gulf Coast, and another for massive flooding that occurred in the Philippines following a monsoon. Google also created such maps after earthquakes in Haiti and Chile in 2010, the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the effects of Hurricane Irene in the U.S. In 2011.

Google also recently updated its public alerts to also include tsunami data for the US and Canada. Data for additional areas will be rolled out in the future, according to the company.

Just last month, Google’s philanthropic unit also created a Person Finder Website in the aftermath of the April terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon. The site was created to make it easier for survivors at the scene to communicate with worried friends and family members in the hours after the horrific terrorist attack.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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