A series of violent storms put Aaron Titus, disaster coordinator for the New Jersey branch of Mormon Helping Hands, through his paces last summer. He coordinated the dispatching of several hundred volunteers to about 300 locations to help remove damaged trees. The effort was so taxing that he doubted one person would be able to successfully coordinate large-scale disaster mitigation smoothly in all cases.
“I realized, if you try to do it as a single individual, you’re never going to be able to,” Titus said.
In response, he developed an early version of Crisis Cleanup, a free open source mapping tool that allows disaster relief organizations to coordinate cleanup and rebuilding efforts after catastrophes. The system’s undergone successive modifications since, and today members of volunteer disaster relief organizations logon to the tool and input data into an assessment form about a resident who needs help. This data includes the resident’s address and the type of incident, like flooding, tree removal or food delivery. That information then generates icons on a dynamic map alongside the assessment form.