Hacking Hurricanes with NOAA

November 16 2012 by Chris Herwig

Tomorrow I’ll be joining scientists, designers, developers, and fellow citizens at Hurricane Hackers NYC, a hackathon to develop tools and apps to assist in the recovery efforts for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. I’m hoping to map data showing where relief efforts are happening against aerial imagery of affected areas to help responders better target their efforts and track progress.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has made available high-resolution aerial imagery covering the Hurricane-affected areas along the East Coast and has released it public domain, with the request for proper citation when used. What NOAA is doing with its Emergency Response Imagery is incredibly useful for emergency first responders and everyone involved in relief efforts.

Using NOAA’s imagery, we can see the areas that saw the most physical destruction from Sandy’s strong winds, rain, and rising sea level. Overlaying data about specific relief activities against actual damage done will help responders better target efforts and see any gaps in service.

Belmar, New Jersey | Post-Sandy

Belmar, New Jersey Post-Sandy

Breezy Point, Queens | Post-Sandy

Breezy Point, Queens Post-Sandy

Richmond County Yacht Club Post-Sandy

Richmond County Yacht Club Post-Sandy

The hackathon will join other citizen response efforts already underway. Members of Occupy Wall Street and other grassroots organizations have been on the ground since the storm - in some cases before some disaster management agencies began to provide relief - providing aid to those affected by the storm, operating under the name Occupy Sandy. The work of Occupy Sandy volunteers has been highlighted in the New York Times and USA Today, among others.

Time's Up! and Occupy Sandy efforts in the Rockaways

Time’s Up! and Occupy Sandy efforts in the Rockaways by Brennan Cavanaugh on Flickr

To find out more about the hackathon and the previous work of Hurricane Hackers, check out Hurricane Hackers on github. You can participate in tomorrow’s hackathon online or in person - additional information is on the Eventbrite.