Scots tech start-up uses data to help hurricane victims

A tech start-up is looking to help those affected by hurricanes in the US and Caribbean by making freely available datasets which offer crucial information on the storms.
Hurricane Irma has devastated communities across Cuba and the Caribbean.Hurricane Irma has devastated communities across Cuba and the Caribbean.
Hurricane Irma has devastated communities across Cuba and the Caribbean.

By gathering official reports in one place online, Edinburgh-based firm Brainnwave aims to prove data can play an important role in responding to natural diasters.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have devastated communities across Texas, Florida and the Caribbean in recent days and left local authorities scrambling to repair damaged infrastructure.

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In response Brainnwave has sourced datasets from the World-wide Human Geography Data Working Group to its Marketplace website from where they can be freely downloaded.

It offers a “single point of access” to vital information needed by humanitarian organisations and charities as well as first-responders and logistics planners on the ground.

Available datasets on the site have been sourced from organisations including the US Geological Survey, the Pacific Disaster Centre, Esri, EU-Copernicus and the United Nations.

One example highlights the potential storm surge for properties in Naples, Florida. It identifies which areas and properties are most at risk by combining OpenStreetMap data and predicted storm surge data.

Brainnwave CEO Steve Coates said: “Scotland seems a long way from the devastation that is destroying lives on the other side of the Atlantic, you can’t help but feel helpless.

“When I came into work yesterday I asked the team if we should stop everything we are doing and focus everyone’s efforts on doing what we can, as Brainnwave, to help. The team jumped at the chance and have created a single go-to place for these vital datasets to help the humanitarian relief efforts.”