Update #2 on Nepal earthquake deployment

This is an update on the deployment for Nepal and a brief summary of the situation as we understand it on the ground.

The situation in Nepal at 1900 UTC April 25 2015

Nepal was hit by the worst earthquake in 80 years according to UN-OCHA.

The government of Nepal reports 30 out of 75 districts affected in the Western and Central Regions, including Kathmandu Valley districts. This includes mountain and hilly areas, disperse rural populations as well as some very densely populated districts and Nepal’s 2 largest cities – greater Kathmandu and Pokhara.

The government has requested search and rescue capacity; – medical teams, supplies and tenting for hospitals, and dead-body bags; – heavy equipment for rubble removal; – and helicopters for transport and access to blocked areas.

Current official estimates put the number of people killed as a result of the earthquake at 2,200 deaths and over 5,800 injured people.


The international community is responding.

Our deployment by the numbers

There are over 400 lines in our information management database

1.4 million tweets have been processed by AIDR (the artificial intelligence in disaster relief platform)

Volunteers, both from the Standby Task Force and from the MicroMappers list have clicked 51,000 images and 6,000 messages.

Volunteers from the Standby Task Force have been geolocating these onto these maps http://maps.micromappers.org/2015/nepal/images/ and http://maps.micromappers.org/2015/nepal/images/

It’s worth pointing out that we are only able to use AIDR and MicoMappers because of our awesome friends at QCRI who built them and make them available to us.

83 volunteers have joined the deployment. They are doing fantastic work but they need your help.

Our role

We activated the Standby Task Force as part of the humanitarian response at 1200 UTC on April 25 2015. Initially the deployment is expected to last until 2300 UTC Thursday April 30 2015 but this will be kept under review.

We have issued a news release about our deployment.

Update #1 on Nepal earthquake deployment

This is an update on the deployment for Nepal and a brief summary of the situation as we understand it on the ground.

The situation in Nepal at 2000 UTC April 25 2015

At 0611 UTC on April 25 a very large magnitude earthquake (reports differ on its precise measure) affected much of Nepal. Given the magnitude of the quake, the location and the make-up of the country the humanitarian impact is expected to be very significant.

Early estimates put the death toll well over 1,000 but in reality it will take much longer before the real impact is known.

Much more information is available in the Humanity Road sitrep http://humanityroad.org/apr25nepalquake/

Our role

We activated the Standby Task Force as part of the humanitarian response at 1200 UTC on April 25 2015. Initially the deployment is expected to last until 2300 UTC Tuesday April 28 2015 but this will be kept under review.

Amazingly rapid response

We have been running AIDR which has processed over 780,000 items that might have been relevant down to around 1,000. We are using the MicroMapper platform to help volunteers process the resulting items and the geoclickers platform to geolocate images and reports.

Already 150 rows of data have been added to our Information Management resource.

You have, once again, responded incredibly. We have 46 volunteers in the deployment right now but we need more.

For more information

If you are a humanitarian organisation who would like access to the information we are compiling please contact coreteam@standbytaskforce.com.

If you are a journalist who would like to know more about Standby Task Force please contact ben@standbytaskforce.com. You might also be interested in the news release on this deployment.

News release: Global volunteers prepare the way for international assistance to Nepal

Issued by Standby Task Force 2015 UTC April 25 2015. For immediate use.

Just hours after a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, a network of humanitarians are working together to support the international response.

With significant property damage and hundreds of people feared dead, rescue and relief organisations are preparing to send staff, supplies and other assistance to the country. To help them, volunteers from the Standby Task Force are working online to map reports of damage and requests for assistance that have been shared online.

The team is also collating resources that will be useful to responders as they begin work in Nepal. Their database already includes links to maps, details about which agencies are responding and even contact information for staff travelling to Nepal.

Jus Mackinnon is President of the Standby Task Force she explained:

“We have a network of over 1400 people across the world who undertake regular training and volunteer to respond rapidly when a serious crisis occurs. We can really make a difference on the ground by giving relief and rescue organisations a good idea of which areas are affected in what way. This helps them to target their efforts more effectively and get help to the people who need it as quickly as possible.”

“Some of what we do is good, old-fashioned information gathering just with computers. We do use some very cutting edge technology as well. In particular we have been running an artificial intelligence system developed by QCRI since the first reports of the earthquake appeared. This sifts social media reports and means that we only need to focus on reports that are directly relevant.”

“I’m so proud of this network. Our volunteers worked on two separate deployments last month for Vanuatu but that hasn’t stopped them stepping forward to help the people of Nepal.”

Standby Task Force volunteers are working, online, alongside other digital humanitarian groups including the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team and Humanity Road.

For media enquiries please contact

Ben Proctor, Media Lead, ben@standbytaskforce.com skype:likeaword (timezone UTC+1)


Jus MacKinnon, President,  justine@standbytaskforce.com skype:fidget01 (timezone UTC+1)


Joyce Monsees, Volunteer Coordinator, joyce@standbytaskforce.com skype:joycemonsees  (timezone UTC-7)


Immediate activation. Earthquake affecting Nepal

A substantial earthquake struck Nepal at 06:11 UTC today (25 April 2015).

We are activating as part of the global humanitarian response.

Activation started at 1200 UTC 25 April 2015.

We have two tasks:

  • task one is to create a map with relevant text and images from public data sources and place this on a map. The aim is to ensure that responders have good information as they arrive in the country.


  • task two is to create an information resource for responders as we did for Haiyan and Cyclone Pam / Vanuatu. The aim is to make sure responders know who is responding, where and what they plan to do.


We need all volunteers with all skills

Please sign up now. There is one sign up sheet for both tasks. (Only for SBTF volunteers)

In this situation more than any other, speed will be absolutely critical. The more volunteers we can have working right now the quicker we can help the humanitarian response.



Leads for this deployment are:

Jus MacKinnon (justine@standbytaskforce.com skype:fidget01)

Stuart Costello (stuart@standbytaskforce.com) skype: stuart.costello5)

Ben Proctor (ben@standbytaskforce.com skype:likeaword)


Earthquake affecting Nepal

As many of you will be aware a substantial earthquake struck Nepal at 06:11 UTC today 25 April 2015. This earthquake is expected to have a high humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

Likelihood of activation

We are highly likely to be activated very soon

Please keep an eye on your emails, the Ning, Facebook and the main Skype chat.

We’ll keep you informed as the situation develops.

Sign up now

We will be asking for volunteers to join an advance team and get everything ready. If you’d like to be part of that, please use the same sign up link and tick the advance team box.

This link is only available to SBTF members.

The role of Standby Task Force

The Standby Task Force has not yet been activated.

We are in contact with key responding agencies. And we are preparing on the assumption that we will be activated

We are very aware that this comes close on the heels of two verys substantial deployments. That said, responding rapidly to humanitarian crises is what we are here for. We know you will want to apply your unique skills and capability to help the people of Nepal.

One month supporting humanitarian agencies in Vanuatu

Well over 100 volunteers from across the globe dedicated their time and skills online over the past month to support the humanitarian response in Vanuatu.

One month ago a category 5 storm swept across many of the islands that make up Vanuatu affecting 166,600 people.

Activation one

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs requested help through the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). Standby Task Force undertook two of the three tasks requested of the DHN.

Standby Task Force volunteers created a database of information needed by humanitarian aid workers based in or arriving in Vanuatu. The database contained contact details for international staff actually in Vanuatu, assessments undertaken by humanitarian agencies, relevant maps, details of which agencies across the globe said they were responding and what they were doing. Within five days the database contained over 5,000 separate pieces of information. Simon Johnson from British Red Cross created this tool which is based on some of the data in the Stadby Task Force database.

Graph to the left and a map to the right








Standby Task Force volunteers also searched for tweets about the storm. They identified pictures and videos of damage and flooding. Then they verified, categorised and mapped the images.

The resulting maps can be seen online here: http://arcg.is/197hIK9 and here: http://arcg.is/1MyUhbC

Map of damage photos









The Standby Task Force stood down at 2200 UTC on Mar 22 2015.

Activation Two

We were then activated again on April 5 2015 by the Government of Vanuatu and the World Bank via the DHN. Our task on this occasion was to examine photographs taken from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that had flown over many of Vanuatu’s affected islands. Volunteers traced the outlines of damaged properties and logged the degree of damage. We used the MicroMappers platform which ensures that each picture was assessed by at least three different volunteers. Micromappers is developed by QCRI qcri.com

Over 2,500 different images were assessed in this way. Volunteers identified and traced 1,696 destroyed houses, 1,298 partially damaged houses and 3,967 houses with little-to-no damage (note: these figures do not correspond to unique houses). The platform ensures that each picture is seen by at least three people so volunteers actually traced 7,500 images. This was the first time UAV tech was used for crowdsourced assessment and verification. Patrick Meier has written more about this on his blog.

The resulting maps can be seen here: http://maps.micromappers.org/2015/pam/aerial/#close

The Standby Task Force stood down at 0900 UTC on April 14 2015.

Vanuatu still needs help

The people of Vanuatu still need support from the global community. Standby Task Force volunteers have helped to strengthen and improve the humanitarian response.

The UN estimates that US$29.9m is required immediately and has launched a flash appeal.

We are a global network of digital humanitarians ready to respond at short notice to support humanitarian agencies on the ground in disaster zones to process open source data and create crisis maps and databases.

Update #5 on Vanuatu (second deployment)

The situation at 1500 UTC April 11 2015

What a weekend.

On the one hand loads of volunteers are taking part in our “polygon-a-thon” (that’s what Joyce calls it) to help the government of Vanuatu and the World Bank get a handle on housing damage across the islands.

You can see the results of all your efforts on this map http://maps.micromappers.org/2015/pam/aerial/#close

And at the same time loads more volunteers (and in some cases the same volunteers) are helping CODE with election monitoring in Nigeria. Not an official activation but so many of you have responded to the request for volunteers.

There is still more to do

The MicroMappers are making good progress but they still need plenty of help. Don’t forget this is a really simple deployment, you don’t need lots of experience or training and any time you can give, even just five minutes, will make a real difference.

There is more information (for SBTF members only I’m afraid) on the Ning.

Vanuatu a month after Cyclone Pam

It is nearly a month since Cyclone Pam, a category five storm swept across the islands of Vanuatu.

We know, because we built the initial resource collecting data about which agencies were responding, that a huge range of organisations have responded to the situation in Vanuatu.

Many of those organisations have been reporting on their efforts on their blogs and news sites. Unicef and the Red Cross have been working to get assistance to remote and small communities.

While the Disaster Arborist Response Team sent tree surgeons


Over on the Humans of Vanuatu Facebook page there is a more personal view of how the situation is progressing.

Like this update from a couple of days ago

“Forgive the nostalgia, but I can’t help feeling sadness when I think about how green my islands used to be. I know it’s coming back, but I confess that I still feel actual distress when I see the landscape today.”