Peter Durand

TED Blog | Pakistan floods bring out TED Fellows community

In Journal on August 20, 2010 at 6:34 am

Upwards of 20 million people are suffering from the massive flooding in Pakistan, according to the United Nations — more than the number affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined. Following record-breaking monsoon rains, at least 1,600 people have been killed, an estimated 72,400 homes have been destroyed, and crops from some 1.6 million acres of land have been ruined.

The international community’s tepid response to Pakistan’s worst natural disaster in history has not quelled efforts by Pakistani citizens — including several TED Fellows — to help people affected by the flooding. Faisal Chohan has built pakreport.org as a platform for reporting and mapping incidents, directing relief to areas that need it most. Other Fellows are also using their specific expertise to provide support to suffering people.

With over 20 million people affected by the floods, Faisal’s pakreport.org is expected to be the biggest usage yet of the crowdsourcing tool Ushahidi. The platform collects eyewitness accounts of flood-related incidents via SMS, email and the web. It then verifies them for accuracy and plots the data points on a map, providing up-to-date information to aid workers — an invaluable service when conventional media outlets and communication lines are down.

ABOVE: pakreport.org homepage

To contribute to accurate mapping of the crisis, people can text their eyewitness accounts of the flood to 3441 with the location of the incident. The message should begin “FL,” followed by a space and then the observation.

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