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Flooding In Europe

July 23, 2021

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What's Happening?

Catastrophic floods have impacted many parts of Western Europe including Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands over the past two weeks. According to meteorologists, parts of Germany received two months worth of rain in just two days. 

Major events like natural disasters require response efforts in both a digital and physical context, and open-source data provides information to support both fronts. The flooding is reported to have caused nearly 200 deaths, and hundreds of people remain missing. The cost of the flood damage, according to the German Insurance association, is estimated at between four and five billion euros.

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Many scientists and politicians, including the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, claim the disaster was caused by global warming:

"We will be faced with such events over and over, and that means we need to speed up climate production measures…because climate change isn’t defined to one state."


How Can Online Data Help?

Major events like natural disasters require response efforts in both an informational and physical context, and open-source data can help gather information on both fronts.

When a natural disaster occurs, first responders, media, and affected organizations need to know:

  • Where is the crisis occurring, what does the damage/impact look like, and what is likely to happen next?
  • Where are resources required?
  • How are other countries responding to the crisis, and how can that inform our strategy?
  • What information needs to be disseminated to the public, first responders, and other public sector entities?
  • What activities are happening at the border or other pertinent geographical areas?

Online spaces are often the earliest sources of publicly-available information to provide this context. Social media users often post public updates and images from the scene of a crisis as it unfolds. Aligning this open-source data with other information sources can help provide a faster and more informed response.