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Facebook to Share Data with Emergency Response Organizations

Mapping and sharing data will help first responders save lives in the wake of disasters.

Facebook announced June 7 that it will use its data to help communities recover and rebuild in the wake of natural disasters. The company introduced a new disaster-mapping tool that will “use aggregated, de-identified Facebook data to help organizations address the critical gap in information they often face” when responding to disasters.

Facebook worked with disaster response organizations to identify what data is most helpful and most scarce in these situations. There are three kinds of maps Facebook will provide to organization: location density, movement and safety check.

Location density compares historical data of a region to where people are before, during and after a disaster in that same region. Movement maps show movement in a region over the course of a few hours to best predict where resources will be most needed. Safety check maps gather the information of safety check-ins on a de-identified map of the data.

In its press release, Facebook guaranteed that this information would only be shared with trusted organizations that “have the capacity to act on the data and respect our privacy standard.”

Ultimately the mapping and sharing of this kind of data will save lives and bring a new ability for clarity in the crucial moments following a disaster.