Monday 5 September 2005

Katrina Information Map

Hurricane Katrina has unfortunately given social software the chance to step up again and help out during a major disaster. The Katrina Information Map is a particularly good example of how social software hackers (in the old school sense) can quickly build a useful tool. The Katrina Information Map has been described by Wired as "a giant visual 'wiki' page" that uses Google Maps to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina who have or are trying to find information about the status of specific locations affected by the storm.

What's even more interesting is the speed in which this tool was built. The programmer, Greg Stoll, told Wired magazine that "I had some existing code for putting markers on the map from an XML file, so adding the extra functionality took about an hour and a half. I spent another hour or two on Wednesday just making sure it was working."

However, he also comments that "I trust the information from FEMA and the government a lot more than just the aggregation of information anyone can enter. But it is pretty cool, and it does show the power of the internet, the kind of collaborative effort that can put together a lot of information in a very short time."


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