Google, World Bank To Improve Disaster Preparedness In Developing Countries

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Within a generation, we will no longer leave the house. We won't need to. Mobility will become obsolete. Similar to our regard to the appendix and nipples on males, feet will become lumpy appendages whose purpose we no longer remember. We will not be mobile but, rather, we shall be rollerblobby Twinkie sapiens who can travel every inch of Earth and beyond without so much as lifting our thumbs thanks to the efforts of Google to literally map everything.

But that's neither here nor there. For now, at least.

For now, Google is still doing some pretty awesome stuff with their Maps technology in order to improve the quality of life for many, many people. Their Flu Trends is helping hospitals stay better prepared for influenza outbreaks and today Google announced that they are partnering with World Bank to collaborate on ways to make Google Maps an effective tool for developing countries to prepare for disasters. The announcement from Google's Lat Long blog offers up the goods:

Under this agreement, the World Bank will act as a conduit to make Google Map Maker source data more widely and easily available to government organizations in the event of major disasters, and also for improved planning, management, and monitoring of public services provision.

The free, web-based mapping tool called Google Map Maker enables citizens to directly participate in the creation of maps by contributing their local knowledge. Once approved, those additions are then reflected on Google Maps and Google Earth for others around the world to see.

The Google Map Maker data includes detailed maps of more than 150 countries and regions, and identifies locations like schools, hospitals, roads, settlements and water points that are critical for relief workers to know about in times of crisis. The data will also be useful for planning purposes, as governments and their development partners can use the information to monitor public services, infrastructure and development projects; make them more transparent for NGOs, researchers, and individual citizens; and more effectively identify areas that might be in need of assistance before a disaster strikes.

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery will helm the project, Google says, and will build upon prior mapping efforts to "create comprehensive maps of schools, hospitals, and other social infrastructure" in new, developing countries via Map Maker technology.