Google is once again being proactive when a natural disaster strikes: Its crisis map is pooling Hurricane Sandy data to inform visitors about the hurricane's path, emergency shelters and crowdsourced YouTube videos.
If you want to track where Sandy is heading in the next 48 hours, Google's new layered map is a good place to start. It collects info from the National Hurricane Center, the American Red Cross and its own YouTube videos to let us know the latest details on this powerful storm.
For instance, you can see where Sandy currently is swirling and where it will be traveling in the next two days. A button called Forecast Track overlays a path of Sandy's projected landfall.
Also useful is the ability to see which emergency shelters are available across the US Northeast. Clicking on the red marker for a shelter will pull up info on address and its capacity.
Traffic conditions are also an option on the map, but as of publication time no details are available for the highways and roads shown on the map.
YouTube videos are prominently displayed on the map, if the visitor chooses the appropriate button. For instance, this YouTube video of the storm battering New Jersey is available if you click on the YouTube icon near Shark River Inlet, NJ.
According to media reports, when the storm makes landfall, updates to the map could provide an up-to-the-minute crowdsourced picture of what the impact looks like across more than a dozen states.
Another Google map for New York City only shows the condition in the city, including public alerts from the New York City Emergency Department.
Creating maps in times of crisis is nothing new for Google. When Hurricane Irene struck the U.S., Google created a map to let users track the storm. The Google team responsible for these maps have also been quick to create guides to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2010 Pakistan floods, the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake
Sandy's peak surge will hit areas along Long Island Sound between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Tuesday. But later tonight should see Sandy make landfall, as it's predicted to "paralyze life for millions of people in more than a half-dozen states in the Northeast, with widespread power failures, a halt in transportation systems and extensive evacuations," as the New York Times writes.