Your neighbors can then see the same images and help them avoid any dangers that you have seen and helps the government plan recovery operations. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has implemented this capability into their FEMA Smartphone App. By taking pictures, you can then help everyone with these images that you have taken. When doing so, think about how you would use these images to navigate your way to and from your location. By taking your time (there is no need to rush and take just hundreds of pictures in 5 seconds), thinking about how you would use these images to get assistance, your contribution becomes important to your community and agencies trying to help you and your family. A good example is the picture of the telephone pole. Once you have taken that image, if it needed repair, are the main roads clear of debris? Which route would you recommend repair crews to take? Which one has the least amount of debris or obstructions? Are the roads flooded? Do you have an idea of how deep the water is? By taking this little bit of extra time to make notes, input these into the comments section of the FEMA App, you help first responders make choices in how to get to your family and community.
FEMA crowdsourced map - you can also see this map directly from the FEMA App on your phone.
If you have the time, coordinate with your neighbors and take important pictures that help make decisions such as several pictures of roads, intersections, important infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, highway on-ramps, bridges, etc. Take your time when doing so. They do not need to be super high resolution, but they do need sufficient detail to determine what conditions exist. While it is true that satellite imagery is often used during a disaster response, remember, if the weather is cloudy, rainy and strong winds exist, satellite images will not be available and nor will aircraft with reconnaissance abilities be able to fly. Another important aspect is you. You are an expert in your community. You know your way around your neighborhood and understand where important safety issues could be barriers to response. Are there any ditches, recent road repairs that are not complete or where important infrastructure locations are. Your participation acts as an expert guide to others that will be responding that often have no direct experience with your neighborhood. The more helpful information you can supply, the safer and faster a response will be to your community.
Be proactive in your community by talking to your neighbors and plotting out where damage has occurred that is important that first responders know about. A picture of your backyard swimming pool is not that important. But where water pipes have broken, power poles, schools acting as shelters and hospitals have suffered major damage are vital.
Be active and think how you would help out when in need. That's the key to success when using modern smart phone technology. Make sure your location feature is turned on and take smart pictures and upload them if mobile service or Wi-Fi is available. Even if you have to wait to upload them at a local WiFi hotspot, it is worth the wait. Response agencies know the sacrifice and difficulties you may have to undergo to upload these pictures.
We have observed many of those affected by Hurricane Irma are uploading photos their communities that are damaged to Facebook Community groups. There are hundreds of these groups in addition to individual Facebook pages. FEMA and United Nations agencies do not have time to be members of all these community groups and must centralize their analysts that can help determine best courses of action to take in response to the disaster. By using a single application or web portal, the task becomes much simpler and faster to visual what has occurred and what response options should be considered. By taking pictures of important roads, arteries and other infrastructure, you help determine how best they can direct teams in the field and other agencies such as the UN, Coast Guard, Naval and Air assets. Do you live near the main airport? It isn't just the runway that is important, but the roads leading to and from its terminal. Do you know where normal everyday bottle necks exists? Pictures of these locations are vital to know in advance.
For those nations in the Caribbean that are not able to use FEMA, app, there is another way to plot your images onto a map for decision makers to leverage by using the Crowdsource ARCGIS map linked here - https://napsg.maps.arcgis.com/apps/StoryMapCrowdsource/index.html?appid=65f0dde429504c3cb07f0cae0f2c4be6
This link will remain active for as long as Hurricane Irma disaster recovery operations continue.
FEMA APP Link
By participating, you help solve critical problems that occur during a disaster response. That's how we all can help heal and recovery faster.
How to turn on location service on an iPhone - https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT207092
How to turn on location service on an Android device - https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3467281?hl=en
How to turn on location service on a Samsung S5 phone - http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/skp/faq/1044567
How to turn on location service on a Galaxy device - http://www.samsung.com/us/support/answer/ANS00062037/