Crowdsource Disaster Response

Cartoscope–Crowdsource analysis of Images from Environmental Disasters

In the aim of building connections between community science and regulatory action, I have collaborated with Northeastern computer science professor Seth Cooper to develop a website for crowdsourcing analysis of images from both rapid and protracted environmental disasters. This project further develops one of Public Lab’s open source software tools, MapMill for crowdsorting of image sets. MapMill was adapted and used by FEMA in response to Hurricane Sandy to organize a crowd-sorting effort that yielded thousands of images. This was the first case of a federal agency rapidly picking up open source software and using crowdsourced input to inform damage assessment. As crowdsourcing was beyond the original mission of Public Lab, Cooper and I took on the tool for further development. We received a Tier 1 Northeastern research award in 2016 to develop this renamed project, Cartoscope.


Algal Bloom Tracking

We worked with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Rafat Ansari’s Citizen Science Algal Bloom Tracking site to use this website to crowd-identify potential algal blooms. This is an example of the kind of slow disaster that is likely to become much more common in the context of Climate Change.

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Oil Sheen Tracking following Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas, the Houston Metro Area, and the Western Gulf Coast of Louisiana. Petrochemical facilities all along the coast were in the direct line of Harvey’s path. Many of these facilities released a host of different chemicals into the floodwaters. Help the Gulf Restoration Network‘s efforts in identifying oil sheens in aerial images of the area.


Seth Cooper
Public Lab
Sophie Spatharioti
Rafat Ansari
Lorna Dsilva,
Vasanti Mahajan,
Rick Menasce,
Shubhi Mittal,
Kisalaya Prasad,
Nitin Shetty,
Becca Govoni




Project Publications

A Required Work Payment Scheme for Crowdsourced Disaster Response: Worker Performance and Motivations

Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Rebecca Govoni, Jennifer S. Carrera, Sara Wylie, Seth Cooper

Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response And Management, (2017)

On Variety, Complexity, and Engagement in Crowdsourced Disaster Response Tasks

Sofia Eleni Spatharioti, Seth Cooper

Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response And Management, (2017) Best Student Paper Award Nomination