After the Storm, a Flood of Data

But during natural disasters, most residents rely on mobile phones, where Esri’s detailed but slow-loading ArcGIS Map can’t reach the people who need it the most. So little over two years ago, Esri entered into a partnership with Waze, the Google-owned navigation software company, to prioritize direct communication with residents via real-time updates and push notifications.

After a municipal government notifies Esri of a planned road closure, the team edits the map with updates showing in Waze within 10 minutes. At the storm’s peak on Monday, Waze says it has flagged the closure of more than 1,300 North Carolina roads, and hundreds of others in Virginia and South Carolina.

Waze also collects unscheduled closures through its community of map editors—volunteers from all over the world who report traffic conditions and new neighborhood landmarks.