Haiti, one year after the earthquake

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 3:43 PM

[Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog]

It’s been one year since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, and governments and NGOs are continuing to respond, many using high-resolution images of the area. To support these efforts, we’ve updated our aerial imagery in Google Earth of the Port-au-Prince area to include images from before and after the earthquake, as well as made updates throughout 2010. These pictures provide an evolving view of the movement of people, supplies and rubble.


To access this imagery directly, use the Historical Imagery feature of Google Earth.

Complementing our online efforts with this imagery, a webpage and crisis response tools such as Person Finder, Google has made an effort to contribute to relief in Haiti by providing technical and financial support to NGOs. These organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health and specific technology NGOs such as Samasource and Frontline SMS continue to help the Haitian people. We’ve looked to them to help us guide our ongoing response to this crisis.

In November, we gathered updated aerial imagery, and sent a second wave of Google teams to Haiti to evaluate our earlier response efforts and see where Google could continue to provide help. We met with local Haitians and technology NGOs under tents, in trailers, in Internet cafes and at restaurants.

From these visits we witnessed the difficulty involved in using our mapping tools under the unpredictable nature of the Internet in Haiti, and so have focused on developing better offline capabilities and have proposed ideas for improving overall Internet access in Haiti. We also ran training for aid workers on our collaborative tools like Google Apps, which can help coordinate resources. While there, we spent time understanding how NGOs are combating the cholera epidemic, and brainstorming tools that could help aid workers produce specialized maps of epidemic case data and chlorination levels at water points, which are critical for planning and prevention.

If you’re interested in helping with Google’s efforts in Haiti, you can:
Our experience and the updated imagery demonstrate that there are still significant needs on the ground in Haiti. We’re continuing our efforts to support locals and NGOs and look forward to seeing how technology will continue to help both Haitians and victims of disasters worldwide.