Mapping Hurricane Irma’s path of destruction in real time.

 

[September 8 2017, 11:00am AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time) ]

Hurricane Irma is considered one of the most powerful Hurricanes in the Atlantic. It has already left an unprecedented path of destruction on some Caribbean islands including Barbuda, St Martin and the British Virgin Islands. So far, at least 11 people have been killed and on islands like Barbuda “At least 95% of the properties in Barbuda are either totally destroyed or damaged.”

The hurricane is now making its way towards Haiti, Cuba, and the south of Florida (see Figure 1) where local authorities and residents are already preparing for the impact.

The Florida Keys and parts of south eastern Florida are already under mandatory evacuation orders and recent predictions have put Miami right into Irma’s track.

Figure 1. Predicted track and Wind Speed Probabilities for Hurricane Irma (Sep 7, 2:00pm EDT)

[Image of probabilities of 34-kt winds]Source: NHC-NOAA

 

Mapping Irma’s impact using real-time Internet activity

Over the coming days, we will map Irma’s path of destruction using (close to) real-time information about the online/offline activity of 401,682 IP-addresses in the affected regions (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Florida).

We combine measurements of whether an IP address is online or offline with its geo-location and map the changes of Internet activity at an hourly rate. The results are presented in an animated map below.

Our aim is to study the impact of Irma’s passage on the ICT infrastructure of affected regions.

Of course, this approach does not provide an accurate reflection of the actual damages on the ground. However, the idea is to provide a first picture where Irma’s path resulted in actual impact on society. It can be used as the very first input to assess the geographic extent of Hurricane Irma and thereby potentially offer useful information for first responders.

Our approaches leverages similar methodologies to our existing research program that has yielded global insights on the adoption of the internet, sleeping patternseconomic outcomes, and internet tampering. Our approach was most recently used to monitor the quality of the internet in Turkey during their recent constitutional referendum and the presidential elections in Iran.

 

Figure 2a.  Hurricane Irma’s Track and Internet Availability in Florida (Blue: normal, Orange: poor, Red: unavailable)

 

Figure 2b.  Hurricane Irma’s Track and Internet Availability in Florida (Blue: normal, Orange: poor, Red: unavailable) – Zoom

 

Figure 4.  Hurricane Irma’s Track and Internet Availability in the Caribbean (Blue: normal, Orange: poor, Red: unavailable) (Sep 7, 2:00pm EDT)

Download the Raw Data

You can download the raw data (.csv) from the hourly IP scans here.

The data contains

  • IP count
  • Timestamp (AST)
  • Longitude/Latitude

If you are using the data or Figure 2, please use the following citation:

  • Ackermann, K., Angus, S., Raschky P.A. (2017) Mapping Hurricane Irma’s Impact using real-time Internet, Retrieved from: https://one-trillion.org.

Disclaimer

Our methodology only measures the availability of the internet in the affected areas. It does NOT necessarily imply that an area has been actually hit by the hurricane or provide information about the severity of the impact.

Press and Media Contact Information

For press information and media resources please get in touch at: [email protected]
Photo credit: CIRA/RAMMB; NOAA



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