Facebook has partnered with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and a non-profit body, SEEDS in India, to offer tools to these agencies to help them respond more effectively to natural disasters.
The United States-based firm will offer ‘disaster maps data’ that illustrate aspects like people’s movement and concentration of Facebook users in the given area before and after a calamity.
'Disaster Maps', which was introduced globally in June, uses aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organisations address the critical gap in information they often face when responding to natural disasters.
Facebook Head of Programs (India, South and Central Asia) Ritesh Mehta said the intention of introducing these initiatives is to help improve response efforts to natural disasters in India.
“During and after these crises, response organisations need accurate information to help communities response, recover and rebuild. Traditional communication channels are often offline and it can take significant time and resources to understand where help is desperately needed,” said Ritesh Mehta.
"Through our work with the National Disaster Management Authority and the roll out of Disaster Maps in India and the disaster information volunteers initiative, we hope we can help communities get the information they need to prepare, respond and recover if disaster strikes," he added.
Facebook will provide multiple types of maps during disaster response efforts.
"Location Density Maps" show where people are located before, during and after a disaster.
"We can compare this information to historical records, like population estimates based on satellite images. Comparing these data sets can help response organizations understand areas impacted by a natural disaster," Facebook said in a statement.
"Movement Maps" illustrate patterns of movement between different neighbourhoods or cities over a period of several hours.
"Safety Check" maps are based on where Facebook community uses 'Safety Check' feature to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster.
This programme with SEEDS will establish a network of volunteers to provide real-time, first-hand information on disasters in their local communities. The programme will be piloted in two disaster-prone states -- Assam and Uttarakhand.
"The disaster information volunteer network and Facebook's Disaster Maps will play a key role in helping us get the right help to the right people at the right time," added Manu Gupta, Director, SEEDS.