From sharing knowledge to financing a project collaboratively, we are witnessing the birth of what is probably the most powerful use of the Internet: crowdsourcing. That is: anonymous, mass cooperative working.
On the many relevant areas it can be used, one of the most important in terms of humanitarism is crisis mapping. From any net-connected device, individuals can submit information to a centralized, geographically ordered computer system, and thus power effective early warning for rapid response to complex humanitarian emergencies, may them be political, social or environmental.
Digital Technologies for 21st Century Democracy‘s speaker Patrick Meier‘s work has been vital in the development of crisis mapping. He worked on one of its key tests: the response to 2010′s earthquake in Haiti.
Taken individually, these bits of data might not be terribly useful. The goal is that by aggregating the incidents in a visual format, people and organizations using the site will be able to see patterns of destruction, to determine where services should be concentrated. A red dot on the map, for example, signifies that looting is happening near a town called Pétionville; another shows that Hotel Villa Creole has become a site of medical triage.