Skip to navigationSkip to content

How you can help Nepal earthquake victims from your computer

Relief material is loaded into an Indian Air Force aircraft headed to Nepal, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 25, 2015. A powerful earthquake struck Nepal Saturday and collapsed houses, leveled centuries-old temples and triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest. It was the worst tremor to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar)
AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar
Help on the way.
By Brian Browdie
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In the aftermath of the quake that has left at least 2,430 people dead and more than 6,200 injured, nations, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and relief agencies are gearing up to deliver personnel, supplies, food, medicine and financial assistance.

As part of the scale-up, networks are being deployed that allow people and organizations worldwide to exchange information that aids relief efforts and helps locate quake victims. It’s possible for anyone with a computer to help with at least one of them.

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap is currently mapping Nepal’s road networks, buildings, residential areas, and open spaces with the goal of connecting communities and accommodating helicopter landings and relief efforts throughout Kathmandu and the region. The web-based organization maintains a wiki page that lists tasks and instructions that allow anyone with a computer and an internet connection to participate. This tutorial shows how to use OpenStreetMap, the tool for adding information to the relief effort maps, whether by looking at online satellite maps from another continent or contributing data from the field.

The Humanitarian Digital Exchange, a platform launched last summer by the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs with the goal of enabling humanitarian agencies to upload, analyze, and share data that can sharpen their ability to target relief efforts.

As of Sunday night US eastern time, the exchange had logged 28 sets of data about Nepal, including information about education facilities in the Kathmandu Valley, roads, health and educational facilities, rivers and local governmental units.

Google has launched its Person Finder, a crowdsourced database that allows anyone to report the names of people who may be missing using either a computer or mobile phone. The platform was tracking about 4,800 names as of Sunday night US eastern time.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has deployed its tracing service, which allows anyone to search for missing relatives or to report that they are alive.

Facebook on Saturday activated Safety Check, a service that notifies you if any of your friends are in one of the areas affected by the earthquake, and asks whether you want to check on them.

Know of other online platforms that are assisting exchanges of information about the earthquake? Tweet them to @bbrowdie.

Quartz also is continuing to assemble a list of organizations that are collecting funds to aid victims that you can support.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.