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Data vs. Disasters: Technology to Improve Crisis Response

We have joined the Clinton Global Initiative to revolutionize disaster response efforts.

Since 1980, the United States has sustained 144 weather or climate disasters that each resulted in $1 billion or more in damages. There were 11 such disasters in 2012. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the largest disaster of 2012, we learned from our work with Team Rubicon and Direct Relief International that our software could help aid organizations harness a sea of goodwill and focus it where it is needed most. In 2013, we are proud to expand our Philanthropy Engineering efforts on the disaster relief front by creating a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action.

Using technology to more efficiently allocate resources

Crisis or disaster response is fundamentally about resource allocation. Response organizations need to know what supplies are available and where they are needed most. They then need to efficiently mobilize labor, water, food, medicines, and shelter to deliver relief.

But these organizations face information gaps, difficulties with logistics, communication barriers, and other significant challenges in fulfilling their mission. A common operating picture that is powered by the collection, fusion, and sharing of many data sources can radically improve crisis mitigation and response.

Our software provides a technological solution to these challenges that will empower response organizations, including Team Rubicon and Direct Relief International, to better identify needs, find proximate resources, and then dispatch individuals or groups to deliver those resources efficiently and effectively.

As part of our commitment through CGI, we will adapt Palantir Gotham to integrate relevant public data sources such as census information, CDC chronic disease densities, FEMA Flood Zones and Evacuation Routes, real-time NOAA Weather, satellite imagery, 311 call logs, and electrical power status reports. Our data integration efforts will also include the locations and statuses of hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and shelters. We will further develop Palantir Mobile to handle response workflows such as conducting structure assessments, requesting medicines, or reporting job completions.

Developing partnerships for more effective response

Beyond the partnership with Direct Relief and Team Rubicon, we are also committing to partnering with businesses and organizations that can assist in providing additional necessary hardware, technology, and services to support and supplement our donations of software, hardware, and engineering expertise. We will continue to deploy engineers and data scientists as new resources in the supply chain of disaster relief efforts in order to expedite the delivery and effectiveness of relief.

This commitment is the first of its kind. It brings together military knowledge, medical and pharmaceutical expertise, local partners, volunteers, data scientists, medical supplies, technology and general disaster relief expertise to more efficiently meet the needs of vulnerable communities hit by calamities.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

CGI’s Annual Meeting is held each September in New York City. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook.

From Wartime Technology Comes Hurricane Relief

“The organization set up a command center at 124th Street, where residents can file requests for assistance, and with the donation of a computer-mapping program, by Palo Alto-based software company Palantir, Team Rubicon has been able to track the work orders and send teams out quickly.”

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