Patrick Meier: Crisis Mapping

Patrick Meier: Crisis Mapping

Emerging Explorer Patrick Meier pioneers the lifesaving new field of crisis mapping, which is helping revolutionize the effectiveness of relief efforts worldwide.


5 - 12+


Geography, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Human Geography, Physical Geography

NG Live

This video was filmed on Thursday, June 14th at the 2012 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States.

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Patrick Meier pioneers the lifesaving new field of crisis mapping and makes it available, accessible, and free to humanitarian organizations and volunteers across the globe. Using social media, texting, and other technologies, Meier is able to create real-time maps that help local disaster relief. Crisis maps help direct aid specifically to people or organizations requesting help. As director of crisis mapping at the nonprofit technology company Ushahidi and co-founder of the Standby Volunteer Task Force, he is helping to revolutionize the power and effectiveness of relief efforts worldwide.


  • Mapping the world live: recognizing a need after the earthquake in Haiti (start-1:53 min.)
  • Using social media to create a live crisis map of Haiti (1:54-04:34 min.)
  • Accidentally creating the most comprehensive and up-to-date map of Haiti (04:35-06:18 min.)
  • How the map was created: base maps, text messages in Creole, and social media (06:19-10:49 min.)
  • Live mapping on a global scale: getting the public involved (10:50-12:37 min.)
  • Crisis mapping in Somalia: using the crowd-sourcing model (12:38-15:05 min.)
  • Who are the mapsters? How to join the Standby Volunteer Task Force (15:06-16:05 min.)
  • What's next? Connecting communities in need to those who can help (16:06-17:41 min.)
  • Re-think the way we see and use maps: today's maps are alive (17:42-18:20 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Page Producers
Nina Page, National Geographic Society
Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources