Google Crisis Response provides a variety of tools to assist with crisis response efforts around the globe. One of the tools it provides is maps, which often include satellite imagery of relevant areas well before the imagery is available in Google Earth, and sometimes includes imagery that never makes it into Google Earth.
Unlike DigitalGlobe’s FirstLook program, which provides satellite imagery exclusively to crisis response organizations, the Google Crisis response maps are open to the public.
There is typically a map for each disaster area and the maps often include links to KMLs so that the data can be viewed in Google Earth. Navigating between the maps is not particularly obvious. To start, go to this URL. By default it shows the ‘Weather, Hazards, Emergency Preparedness’ map, which at present is highlighting a recent flooding in South Carolina and includes two satellite images from DigitalGlobe. Sadly, there appears to be no way to see those images in Google Earth. Sometimes the imagery is available in KML format. When we recently looked at the wild fires in California, GEB reader Christiaan Adams let us know in the comments about this KML file that is from Google Crisis Response and does show DigitialGlobe imagery in Google Earth. Yesterday when we looked at the Tianjin explosion we pointed you to this KML file from Google Crysis Response that shows Skybox Imagery of Tianjin before and after the event in Google Earth.
Once you are on the ‘Weather, Hazards, Emergency Preparedness’ map, you can find other maps by clicking on the map title and a drop down appears, showing a list of other maps. At the current point in time there are:
- Weather, Hazards, Emergency Preparedness
- 2014 US Winter Storm (Pax)
- 2015 Nepal Earthquake
- Australia Fires
- Banjir Indonesia 2014
- Incendio en Valparaíso (the Great Fire of Valparaíso, Chile)
- NSW Bushfires (New South Wales, Australia)
- Philippines Crisis Map
- State of Florida Emergency Preparedness
- 臺灣防災地圖 (Taiwan Crisis Map)
Other maps do exist but are not on the drop-down list. For example, we found these:
We found those maps via the Google Crisis Response Google+ page.
Once you are viewing a map, be sure to click the ‘Layers’ button for extra information and quite often the option to download the data in Google Earth. For example, the ‘Weather, Hazards, Emergency Preparedness’ in the ‘Storm Information’ layer there is this KML file showing web cams all along the gulf coast and various locations in the Caribbean.