Public Lab Research note

Report-back from Open Call on Hurricane Harvey response and coordination

by warren | August 29, 2017 20:10 29 Aug 20:10 | #14797 | #14797

We had an Open Call today on the topic of Harvey response and 12+ people attended, with:

  • questions
  • requests
  • report-ins
  • offers of help
We are now collecting resources/links/etc on this page.

The notes for this call (disorganized but wide-ranging) are below; please add missing or additional resources in the comments below. Thanks!

August 28, 2PM Central / 3PM ET

Call topic: Disaster response -- what should Public Lab do?

Attending: Willow Brugh, Devin, Dan, Scott, Mikel Maron, Bill and general invite Facilitating: Jeff Warren

Call Agenda

Notes at

Harvey overview

Mikel's part: International GIS team at Red Cross - Harvey Response data mapping needs

  • starting with civil air patrol -- FEMA (same process used during Sandy).
  • not sure if activated yet
  • Is public lab ready for a large amount of imagery, once they do activate?
  • see MapMill, below
  • getting together the OSM layer
  • Tasking has 2 projects up, welcoming more folk from HOT and DIgital Globe. Will get basemap in shape.

MapMill 1 vs. 2: BP spill origin in 2010

Sophie from Northeastern U -- -- have created a platform similar to/inspired by MapMill

  • organized by "tasks" with questions/answers to label
  • Map task. Marking structures + buildings
  • Cartoscope:
  • wondering how to plug in
  • system is not specific to Harvey but interested in helping out
  • seeks images, they do have dataset for Colorado, and for Algal Blooms. But they want more images, any images flown over Harvey OpenStreetMaps

Request from Coast Guard to track pollution - via Willow

  • only accepts data in spreadsheet form
  • SBTF, Humanity Road have been tracking social media for requests for help.
  • Translators w/out borders
  • Spreadsheets on 12h cycle to Coast Guard
  • Coast Guard asking for pollution updates

Pollution data tracking (re above Coast Guard request)

  • requested column headers:
    • description of the event
    • type of release
    • agent released
    • location
    • amount of release
  • Questions
    • what geographic scope?
    • where to prioritize?
    • is there a need for training by the coast guard requester?
  • Current information sources around pollution:
    • SkyTruth Alerts
    • Gulf Restoration Network
  • Potential information sources around pollution:
    • HOT tracing refineries
    • Storm water tracking
    • Photo monitoring
    • Civil Air Patrol
  • Steps
    • ask Coast Guard about the questions
    • connect to existing info sources
    • set up workflow between sources and spreadsheet
    • activate potential sources as needed

OpenStreetMap tasking

OSM is mostly on residential and commercial areas. Would it be useful for a comprehensive infrastructure? Are there particular geographic regions to identify and focus on? HOT can trace refinery infrastructure. Is that useful? What would we be looking for and where?

  • Stormwater page for Public Lab ( to track particular instances of flooding. People doing timelapse or photo monitoring with hunting cameras (can get wet but not submerged) * Weather-proof, but not waterproof. These can be left out with AA batteries for weeks. Check on change over time.
  • Where should things be focused? Gulf Restoration Network in touch with New Orleans PL groups. GRN might be good to structure this (system for local reporting), know where to focus. HOT and Coast Guard might define where to prioritize, PL might put call out to monitor.

SkyTruth Alerts

Potentially useful maps about where flooding is happening around Harvey?

Willow to set up workflow between the groups and a spreadsheet.

Public Lab can offer to amplify, connect to GRN, host wiki pages if needed, happy to host more calls as well.

HOT can trace imagery.

Possibly relevant longer-term ongoing projects at PL:

Financial assistance (where to donate)

  • Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
  • Central Texas Food Bank Foundation
  • Texas Diaper Bank
  • Houston Food Bank
  • Galveston food bank
  • Corpus Christi food bank
  • Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County

Check-in coming soon about access to Gilbert's spreadsheet (in agenda)

Copying from the NICAR Listserv:

Just wanted to highlight the work by Matt Dempsey at the Houston Chronicle in creating a map of flooded streets. A great service to residents, and smart leveraging of the resources that are available (social media, crowd sourcing, Google Maps) in the middle of chaos.

Claudia Koerner

Some Public Lab goals

Humanity Road Sitreps


Jeff make SkyTruth/GRN email intro with Willow (many more, above)


Title Author Updated Likes Comments
We need help with garden testing after Harvey @Georgina almost 7 years ago 2
Can NASA VIIRS data used for disaster maps? @marlokeno almost 7 years ago 5
Can someone make a map to display NOAA Harvey imagery with coordinates and permalink? @warren almost 7 years ago 23
Where are people compiling lists of potential pollution sites following Hurricane Harvey? @warren almost 7 years ago 3
What are some sources of new aerial imagery of Harvey damages? @warren almost 7 years ago 6
How do I identify an oil sheen or spill or slick in aerial photography? @warren almost 7 years ago 1
How do I join a volunteer Disaster Response Team for flooding? @warren almost 7 years ago 1
How do I share lots (gigabytes, or thousands) of photos online, cheaply and easily? @warren almost 7 years ago 1
What is the best way to formalize connecting needs with offers? @bsugar almost 7 years ago 4
Do Harvey response organizations need TDS or air monitoring equipment? @sarasage almost 7 years ago 0
What could teenagers do to support Harvey response efforts? @warren almost 7 years ago 3
How can the public find or make maps of the polluters next door? @marlokeno almost 7 years ago 3
Is there a need for safely collecting aerial imagery post-Harvey? @warren almost 7 years ago 0
What are soil sampling protocols being used by groups along the gulf coast? @stevie almost 7 years ago 5

3 Comments may be a group of people that can help with water monitoring for creating the spreadsheets Willow mentioned. They have a lot of monitoring up north and may still have mobility.

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Please find attached the link to an updated Research Note, addressing "Disaster Management Organizations & Software - Open Source & Proprietary" :

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Hi, all - some followups via Scott Eustis of Gulf Restoration Network -- @eustatic:

Re: imagery, Department of Homeland Security NOAA flights -- scott has a link? they respond to hurricanes

Scott mentioned msu/msc? reports that are already being submitted, and skytruth gets a copy of these, perhaps a source for the Coast Guard requested info...

Re: Willow's contacts, is this houston/galveston coast guard?

Notes the #harveyrecovery hashtag

concern for other industrial centers that we haven't heard from -- is no news good news? ...

Thanks, all!

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