April 18, 2016 | 0 comments

Japan and Ecuador have both been devastated by powerful earthquakes in recent days, but there is no evidence of a link between these events on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean. At least 42 people are now confirmed dead in south-west Japan, after the area was rocked by a magnitude 6.2 quake on Thursday night and a magnitude 7.0 quake in the early hours of Saturday morning. Thirty-two hours later, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit the north-west coast of Ecuador at 7 pm local time on Saturday, killing at least 272 people. Although it is tempting to draw a connection, Phil Cummins of the Australian National University in Canberra says the timing of events is coincidental. “It’s difficult to see any relation because Japan and Ecuador are very distant from each other, and even though these earthquakes have done a lot of damage, they weren’t actually that big on the grand scheme of things. “Things happen at random – you can get clusters of earthquakes that might appear connected but actually they aren’t.” More at

April 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Digital archives track the evacuation patterns of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims between the time the earthquake and tsunami struck. The Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers who created the digital archives say they will make use of the archive to analyze evacuation behaviors — encouraging people, for instance, to avoid overestimating evacuation sites and head to higher ground:

April 15, 2016 | 0 comments

Haiti’s cholera epidemic killed close to 9,000 people and hospitalized hundreds of thousands more. The epidemic also spread to several neighboring countries. Cholera remains a critical risk for UN peacekeeping operations, years after Nepalese troops inadvertently introduced the disease to Haiti in fall of 2010 and triggered one of the worst epidemics in recent years. Researchers have found that simple and inexpensive interventions — which the United Nations has yet to implement — would be effective in preventing future outbreaks of the bacterial infection:

April 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Since its inception in 2004, the growth and maturation of OpenStreetMap is evidenced through numerous metrics: in its data collection methodology, its editorial support infrastructure, its policies and standards, and, of course, in the quality and quantity of its data collection itself. As founder Steve Coast has said, “When I created OSM more than 10 years ago, I was just out to create a map — and that’s it. Since then, the tool and its uses have evolved and I believe that it’s an amazing thing that there are people involved in the [OSM] project that want to do socially beneficial things with the tool and that they’re interested in OSM from a different perspective.” In this article Diana S Sinton will consider the OSM community of contributors, the data they produce, and the projects that have been made possible. Some of this information was presented during the recent American Association of Geographer’s 2016 meeting in San Francisco, during a session on OSM:

April 5, 2016 | 0 comments

Patrick Meier, formerly of Ushahidi and QCRI, discusses the opportunity to visit Zipline’s field-testing site in San Francisco last year after the company participated in the UAViators Experts Meeting on Humanitarian UAVs that he co-organized at MIT in October 2015. The company has finally just gone public about their work in Rwanda. Here's a summary of Zipline's technology and applications in Rwanda: