How Big Tech Is Working With Nonprofits and Governments to Turn Data Into Solutions During Disasters

Kelsey Sutton at Adweek: “As Hurricane Michael approached the Florida Panhandle, the Florida Division of Emergency Management tapped a tech company for help.

Over the past year, Florida’s DEM has worked closely with GasBuddy, a Boston-based app that uses crowdsourced data to identify fuel prices and inform first responders and the public about fuel availability or power outages at gas stations during storms. Since Hurricane Irma in 2017, GasBuddy and DEM have worked together to survey affected areas, helping Florida first responders identify how best to respond to petroleum shortages. With help from the location intelligence company Cuebiq, GasBuddy also provides estimated wait times at gas stations during emergencies.

DEM first noticed GasBuddy’s potential in 2016, when the app was collecting and providing data about fuel availability following a pipeline leak.

“DEM staff recognized how useful such information would be to Florida during any potential future disasters, and reached out to GasBuddy staff to begin a relationship,” a spokesperson for the Florida State Emergency Operations Center explained….

Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research and development officer at the Governance Laboratory at New York University, advocates for private corporations to partner with public institutions and NGOs. Private data collected by corporations is richer, more granular and more up-to-date than data collected through traditional social science methods, making that data useful for noncorporate purposes like research, Verhulst said. “Those characteristics are extremely valuable if you are trying to understand how society works,” Verhulst said….(More)”.