Facebook Disaster Maps: Aggregate Insights for Crisis Response and Recovery

Seminar | March 20 | 4-5 p.m. | 1011 Evans Hall

 Shankar Iyer, Facebook

 Department of Statistics

After a natural disaster or other crisis, humanitarian organizations need to know where affected people are located and what resources they need. While this information is difficult to capture quickly through conventional methods, aggregate usage patterns of social media apps like Facebook can help fill these information gaps. In this talk, I'll describe the data and methodology that power Facebook Disaster Maps. These maps utilize information about Facebook usage in areas impacted by natural hazards, producing aggregate pictures of how the population is affected by and responding to the hazard. The maps include insights into evacuations, cell site connectivity, access to electricity, and long-term displacement. In addition to descriptions and examples of each map type, I'll describe the source data used to generate the maps and efforts taken to ensure the security and privacy of Facebook users. I'll also describe limitations of our current methodologies and ongoing research aimed at improving our maps. I'll especially focus on our attempts to better measure long-term displacement after a crisis event.