Monthly Archives: November 2008

Links: Revolution 2.0, Mumbai Attacks, Response

  • Revolution 2.0 – Obama’s Web Tools Work for Others Too: If I had blogged about this Newsweek article, I would have been quite critical. First, we all know full well that technology can be used for good or ill. Second, the piece focuses exclusively on the negative effects of the Internet’s potential to empower marginalized groups. Third, as a colleague noted, “The writer thinks of marginalized groups like terrorists.  I think of marginalized groups like 90% of the world’s population.”
  • Mumbai Terrorists used Google Earth: In a first in terror strikes in the country, all the 10 terrorists involved in the Mumbai attack got familiar with the terrain of the city by using the Google Earth service, according to sources in the Maharashtra home ministry.
  • Mobiles and Twitter Play Key Role in Mumbai Reporting: Mobiles are yet again playing a key role in citizen reporting as terror attacks grip the Indian city of Mumbai.  Twitter, the microblogging service that is available in India, was especially instrumental in conveying first hand reports as the chaotic events were unfolding in the city.  Twitter users set up aggregator accounts at Mumbai, Bombay@BreakingNews and with the search tag #Mumbai.
  • Citizen Voices and Mumbai Attacks: When news from the developing world dominates the global news agenda, we get a lot of traffic on Global Voices. As the horrific events unfolded in Mumbai this past week, our authors, editors and tech staff began compiling accounts from blogs, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter feeds. You can get a good overview of the use of social media in reporting the Mumbai crisis on our special coverage page.

Event: International News Coverage in a New Media World

I’ve been invited by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and George Washington University’s (GWU) Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications to give a panel presentation on “International News Coverage in a New Media World: The Decline of the Foreign Correspondent and the Rise of the Citizen Journalist.”

gwu

The event will take place on December 10th to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Experts will examine the dramatic shift of traditional media away from foreign reporting, the growth of web-based citizen journalists, and their effects on coverage of international news and human rights issues.

I was originally planning to focus the bulk of my presentation on the role of new media in covering Kenya’s post-election violence but given the (still) current carnage in Mumbai and the unprecedented response of citizen journalists in covering the attacks, I’d like to present a comparative analysis of both events. To this end, I welcome any links/tips/suggestions you might have on what you consider to be the most striking (less obvious) issues worth highlighting.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Web 2.0 Tracks Attacks on Mumbai (Updated)

Twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube – a few of the Web 2.0 & mobile applications tracking the Mumbai attacks in quasi real time along with the aftermath. Twitter was apparently faster than CNN in reporting the initial events, according to TechCrunch:

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From TechMacro: “the local authority advised TV channels to stop broadcasting sensitive information which may help terrorists tracking army’s movements. It is much less likely that the terrorists are now using Twitter to find way to escape.”

For live, crowdsourcing updates, see the following links on Twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia. The Wikipedia entry already includes a picture (probably taken with mobile phone) of one of the terrorists.

Wired also writes that “local bloggers at Metblogs Mumbai have new updates every couple of minutes. So do the folks at GroundReport. Dozens of videos have been uploaded to YouTube. But the most remarkable citizen journalism may be coming from “Vinu,” who is posting a stream of harrowing post-attack pictures to Flickr.”

Patrick Philippe Meier

Crisis Maps of Mumbai (Updated)

Here are initial crisis maps of Mumbai, please let me know if you know of others.

CrisisWire:

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GeoCommons:

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Al Jazeera Google Map:

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My Fox Chicago:

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Patrick Philippe Meier

Crisis Mapping Africa’s Crossborder Conflicts

My colleague Dennis King just sent me update on the Humanitarian Information Unit’s (HIU) project, “Africa: Conflicts Without Borders 2007-2008.”

Instead of the usual depiction of conflicts as countrywide and defined by national boundaries, this map displays distinct conflict-affected areas in Africa as sub-national and transnational pockets of insecurity, violence, and armed aggression.  Areas of conflict were drawn around locations of reported conflict incidents in 2007 and 2008, as well as concentrations of internally displaced persons and cross-border rebel bases and refugee camps in neighboring countries.

This depiction of areas of conflict more accurately displays where conflict has been occurring in Africa and the sub-national and transnational nature of these conflicts.  In a follow-on project, this new visualization will be used to analyze the relationship between conflict and geo-spatial factors that are also not related to national boundaries, such as topography, natural resources, demographic distributions, and climatic hazards.

A PDF of the map below is available here.

HIU

The map categorizes conflict-affected areas into three types of conflict:

Armed Conflict, Inter-communal Strife, and Political Violence.  In many cases, armed conflicts and political violence are based on inter-communal strife.  The locations of violent food riots, pirate attacks (as of October 2008) and targeted attacks associated with terrorism during 2007-2008 have also been plotted on this map.  Disputed border conflicts are also identified on this map.

HIU zoom

As I have suggested in earlier blogs, I continue to be surprised that crisis maps are still shared as PDFs or JPGs. The above data should be made available in KML with a simple interface that enables users to query the data they are visualizing. At the very minimum, we should be able to visualize the data over time. I find static data less and less compelling in the context of crisis mapping.

For a Google Earth Layer of the above map, please see my follow up blog post.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Crisis Mapping Africa’s Crossborder Conflicts

My colleague Dennis King just sent me update on the Humanitarian Information Unit’s (HIU) project, “Africa: Conflicts Without Borders 2007-2008.”

Instead of the usual depiction of conflicts as countrywide and defined by national boundaries, this map displays distinct conflict-affected areas in Africa as sub-national and transnational pockets of insecurity, violence, and armed aggression.  Areas of conflict were drawn around locations of reported conflict incidents in 2007 and 2008, as well as concentrations of internally displaced persons and cross-border rebel bases and refugee camps in neighboring countries.

This depiction of areas of conflict more accurately displays where conflict has been occurring in Africa and the sub-national and transnational nature of these conflicts.  In a follow-on project, this new visualization will be used to analyze the relationship between conflict and geo-spatial factors that are also not related to national boundaries, such as topography, natural resources, demographic distributions, and climatic hazards.

A PDF of the map below is available here.

HIU

The map categorizes conflict-affected areas into three types of conflict:

Armed Conflict, Inter-communal Strife, and Political Violence.  In many cases, armed conflicts and political violence are based on inter-communal strife.  The locations of violent food riots, pirate attacks (as of October 2008) and targeted attacks associated with terrorism during 2007-2008 have also been plotted on this map.  Disputed border conflicts are also identified on this map.

HIU zoom

As I have suggested in earlier blogs, I continue to be surprised that crisis maps are still shared as PDFs or JPGs. The above data should be made available in KML with a simple interface that enables users to query the data they are visualizing. At the very minimum, we should be able to visualize the data over time. I find static data less and less compelling in the context of crisis mapping.

For a Google Earth Layer of the above map, please see my follow up blog post.

Patrick Philippe Meier

Satellite Imagery, Mobile Phones and Radios

Earth Observation System Launches in Africa: the SERVIR system integrates satellite resources into a web-based Earth information system, putting previously inaccessible information into action locally.

“A satellite birds-eye view can provide an overall picture of a natural disaster and its consequences,” said Dr. Tesfaye Korme, director of remote sensing and geographic information systems at RCMRD. “The new SERVIR-Africa platform comes just in time to provide us with the satellite data to develop maps of last week’s flooding in western Kenya and eastern Uganda, and estimate the number of displaced people.  We will provide this information to the authorities responsible for disaster response.”

For early warning in advance of events, SERVIR-Africa is developing tools to predict floods in high-risk areas and vector-borne diseases such as Rift Valley Fever. It will also provide visualization capability to map the location of climate change projections so people can see, for example, the potential impact climate change may have on the land resources where they live.  In addition, SERVIR-Africa’s information technology team will use the Internet to serve up satellite and ground-based earth observations, map data, and geospatial analyzes that target issues such as urbanization, biodiversity threats, and management of natural resources.  Mobile phones and radio, too, will be explored as a means to deliver useful information to people.
I’m particularly pleased to read that mobile phones and radios will be explored (and hopefully used) to deliver information at the community level.