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Mapping a Crisis: AidData Students Respond to Nepal Earthquake

Ashley Napier

This case focuses on how AidData and its Research and Evaluation Unit coordinated students, faculty, and staff from the College of William and Mary to create an online dashboard to provide information resources in direct response to needs of partner organizations on the ground in Nepal after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck a remote, mountainous region in April 2015. Because of AidData’s current partnership with USAID to improve the provision of sub-national, georeferenced data on the location of critical infrastructure, the organization was uniquely positioned to assist partners on the ground. Once data was uploaded to the portal, partner organizations then gave feedback, helping to better guide both the types of data students were collecting as well as the locations students focused on. Ultimately, this effort led to the provision of georeferenced youtube videos, mapped news reports, Open Street Map data, crowdsourced satellite-based damage reports, and NASA damage estimates. The data was then used by our partners to drive on-the-ground decision making.


This case study was submitted as part of USAID's CLA Case Competition, held in August 2015. Taken together, this collection of submissions illustrates the diversity of ways collaborating, learning, and adapting approaches are being operationalized in the field. Stringent judging criteria was used to determine official CLA Case Competition winners, so not all submissions should be considered an official USAID endorsement of best practice. To view all entries, visit the CLA Case Competition page.

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