Sometimes known as a common operational picture, these maps aim to provide a snapshot or overview of the emergency at that moment in time. They will typically include a mixture of thematic information, possibly including physical impacts, hazards, numbers of affected people or response actions. In the early stages of an emergency, responders require a visualisation of the disaster zone that enables them to acquire a general spatial understanding of the operating environment. In many cases, newly-arrived actors may have no prior knowledge of the operating geography.
Strategic or operational?
Basemap, baseline or situational?
When might it be produced?
From the start of the emergency, although initially there may be very limited information available. During the early stages of the emergency maps might be updated twice daily, but are more likely to be daily transitioning to every other day, weekly or when there is a significant change in the situation.
Influence on humanitarian decisions
- Organisations - Governments (National or Local), UN, Clusters, NGOs, Donors and others;
- Roles - Rescuers, Programme Managers and funders
In the early stages of an emergency responders require a visualisation of the disaster zone, which enables them to acquire a general spatial understanding of the operating environment. In many cases, newly-arrived actors may have no prior knowledge of the operating geography. Maps will be used to plan and execute initial life-saving responses, and to understand the dimensions and constraints of humanitarian assistance. These initial maps will often be used to plan damage and needs assessments.
- The creation and dissemination of clear, simple maps conveying what is known about the emergency should be a priority from the earliest stages of a new disaster.
- Base maps should show administration boundaries at an appropriate level, and relevant topographic data layers.
- Situational data is initially likely to be fragmentary and anecdotal: textual annotations may be the best way to map this.
- Be aware of the risk of wrong interpretation of ‘no data’ to mean ‘no impact’.
- Annotate maps clearly as being subject to regular updates, and request data to be submitted (e.g. ‘this map needs your help!’).
- Government reports
- OCHA situation reports
- Rapid assessments
- Assessments registry (for data in where assessments have already been done)