When Typhoon Yolanda tore through the Philippines in November of last year, it was the strongest cyclone to make landfall in recorded history. With critical infrastructure, roads and entire neighborhoods swept away, there was an urgent need to aggregate data on the extent of the damage to aid in recovery and reconstruction.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) teamed up with the American Red Cross and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to integrate data from various actors and to mobilize one of the largest participatory mapping efforts to date. They created a free and open data platform using GeoNode software to gather and share information from different sources, to assist the Philippines with reconstruction efforts.

"This was an incredible effot by many partners to integrate data and information flows from national, international and civil society groups," said Robert Banick, Field GIS Coordinator for the American Red Cross. "Through this platform, reconstruction planners could access satellite imagery, crowd sourced spacial data, and official government data in the smae place and create new maps with the information they need."

Abhas Jha, Sector Manager of the World Bank’s Transportation, Urban and Disaster Risk Management unit in East Asia and the Pacific, has been a long-time advocate for improving the use of spatial data for disaster risk management decision-making. “The Yolandadata.org site is a compelling example of how the GeoNode project has become a valuable resource for accessing risk information, helping us to support the Philippines with reconstruction,” he said.

GeoNode is an open source geospatial platform that enables users to manage and use geospatial content relevant to recovery and reconstruction. The GeoNode platform is already being used in more than 24 countries to collect and manage disaster risk management data under open licenses.

As a key part of this collective effort, GeoNode developers and partners regularly convene to discuss lessons learned, and ways to improve the software.

The most recent GeoNode Summit, hosted by GFDRR at the World Bank offices in Washington, D.C. in January brought together several key partners, including, the UN World Food Programme, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the Global Earthquake Model (GEM), among others.

One of the participants, representing the Philippines government’s Project NOAH, attended the summit to gain insight on how open source technology, like GeoNode, can help enhance DRM data and accessibility of geospatial data in their country to mitigate disasters.

“In the Philippines, it is challenging for the public to have access to data,” said developer Bebsher Salvio. “Through platforms like GeoNode, data can be shared publicly and openly, so practitioners can better understand and prepare for the effects of disasters like Yolanda.”

With the contributions of 15 new core developers over the past year, a new version of GeoNode, version 2.0, was released at the Summit.

To learn more about the GeoNode platform, please visit www.geonode.org, and for information on the Typhoon Yolanda GeoNode, visit http://yolandadata.org.