Free data and software for disaster response

By on 13 September, 2017
global mapper blue marble

Blue Marble has made Global Mapper software freely available to anyone volunteering or supporting a non-profit during the relief efforts. Image source: Blue Marble.


Caribbean and Gulf nations have been battered by natural disaster recently. The landfall of three significant hurricanes, punctuated by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in a matter of days, has left the region shell-shocked. A number of initiatives are underway from commercial providers to connect volunteers with data and software.

Blue Marble: Global Mapper

Blue Marble has made their GIS application, Global Mapper, available to anyone assisting in the relief. In a statement they said, “Blue Marble has a very close relationship with the city of Houston, its businesses, and its people. The city is home to many of the world’s leading energy exploration, extraction, and processing companies, many of whom were early adopters of Blue Marble’s geodetic software and were instrumental in helping us establish a foothold in the geospatial industry over two decades ago. It is with deep sadness that we now watch the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has wrought on Houston and the surrounding region. While there is no doubt that the city will recover, the short-term challenges are immense. Blue Marble is committed to helping in this effort by offering any government agency, organization, or other response team, unlimited and free access to Global Mapper for as long as is needed.”

“Spatial data collection, analysis, and deployment play a major role in any disaster response operation and we are pleased that we are able to provide the necessary tools for this work in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey,” stated Blue Marble’s President, Patrick Cunningham. “Our heartfelt thoughts go out to the citizens of Houston and the Gulf Coast Region as they begin the slow road to recovery.”

Remote GeoSystems: LineVision


LineVision lets emergency response teams easily map drone video of Hurricane Harvey damage assessments. Image source: Remote GeoSystems.

Remote GeoSystems has also announced they are giving away free copies of LineVision™ software licenses to official agency, volunteer and non-profit drone operators.

The LineVision solution is a commercial software suite for UAV, airborne and terrestrial mobile inspection and survey projects requiring geo-referenced video playback, analysis, collaboration and reporting using standard Esri maps and data, Esri ArcMap and Google Earth GIS applications. Using the software, anyone with a GPS-enabled video camera, drone or geospatial DVR that can geotag video in the proper format can immediately load their videos and photos to Esri ArcGIS and Google Earth along with compatible geospatial data.

In addition to supporting the teams in Texas, LineVision is also being pre-deployed to volunteers organized by Florida State University’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program to help with the Hurricane Irma search and rescue and damage assessment.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap volunteer community has contributed to  is making incredible progress, with nearly 150,000 homes mapped in just a couple of days. Their partners, Netherlands Red Cross and MapAction are en route to affected locations, and will use the map data we create to understand the damage to infrastructure, and estimating the affected populations and their needs as part of Rapid Needs Assessment Team (RNAT) missions. The OSM US Community are leading support activating mapping for Florida and the impacts of Hurrican Irma.



This map 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. Image source: Brainwave.


Brainnwave’s mission is to make the world’s data universally discoverable, usable and accessable. This Edinburgh based startup has added all the relevant datasets needed for humanitarian relief, sourced by the World-wide Human Geography Data Working Group, to their Marketplace website from where they can be freely downloaded and used. This will provide 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 amongst many others.

Brainnwave CEO, Steve Coates, explains more about how the datasets will help people and why his company decided to donate the time needed to create this access:

“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 this morning 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.”

Takor Group: Mappt

Takor Mappt


Mappt is a globally recognised mobile GIS and data collection application used in an array industries ranging from mining, environmental and agriculture through to logistics, defence, and livestock tracking, used in over 80 countries worldwide. For those who require offline geographic data on a mobile device, Mappt provides an affordable, user-friendly and dynamic mobile mapping solution for both Android and iOS platforms.

Takor is dedicated to helping in this effort by offering any government agency, NGO or other response team, unlimited and free access to Mappt for as long as needed.

Mappt has been used for disaster management and response in the past, as it provides a portable, offline, easy-to-use platform for viewing, collecting, tracking and mapping data, by utilizing the power of location.

Mappt has been used to manage the Ebola outbreak in in West Africa in 2014, for tracking and managing cheetah populations in Iran and for wildfire management in Australia and the US.

The mobile app enables field workers to gather data in an efficient manner, work offline in remote areas without internet access and view, edit and share location based geographical data on Android tablets and smartphones.

Mappt is also currently available in the following languages; English; Spanish; Portuguese; Hindi; Indonesian; French; Japanese; Korean; and Farsi, for those in non-English speaking affected areas.

Click the links below to learn more:

You may also like to read:



Sign up now to stay up to date about all the news from Spatial Source. You will get a newsletter every week with the latest news.

UK releases new Geography Profession Strategy
The Geography Profession Strategy 2023–36 outlines plans t...
NSW Spatial Digital Twin delivering a smarter future
Without a spatial digital twin, there can be no smart cities...
Best of 2023: From maps to multiverse
Geospatial is more than an industry — it is a phenomenon t...