As we wrote about CleanApp as a quality control mechanism & tool in disaster recovery, CleanApp has multiple applications beyond just mapping trash or obvious hazards by first-person reporters. If we imagine live data feeds coming out a danger zone in a consistent/harmonized open-source format, it’s not difficult to envision numerous novel crowd-sourcing & automation possibilities that this opens up.


Landmines & other post-conflict hazards continue to proliferate around the world. As MapTech & DroneTech continue to evolve, our toolkit for tracking and disposal of dangerous items becomes much better. We have the technology to develop a global mapping & hazard abatement solution that will save thousands of lives and improve quality of life globally.


Please recall, when we talk about drone-augmented CleanApp, we don’t distinguish between aerial/terrestrial/subterranean/space-based or submarine implementations. The important thing is to have a coherent map interface, a uniform timeline, and smart coding to avoid data gaps or erroneous data overlaps. Crucially, CleanApp reports should be open-sourced and broadly accessible, so as to have as many eyes on the given prize as possible. We know that full public access to data feeds will not be possible for many places, such as for CleanApp reports at military installations or on private properties that want full control over information flows. But as a general rule, if we open up data feeds from disaster response locations, we can have a lot more people helping in the response effort. For example:

This is an extreme version, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to appreciate the message here. Common sense dictates that when someone sees sparks coming out a power transformer, it’s important to let someone know. Just as common sense of decency dictates that when someone is in need, we do everything possible to help them.

@CleanApp, we care about making trash/hazard reporting technology as user-friendly as possible. This means giving folks technology to report hazards through familiar interfaces like digital assistants, their existing social networks, and new generations of smartglasses. Take a look:

Please note that much of the tech necessary for widescale adoption is already in use, and millions of people are already CleanApping, whether they know it or not. What remains missing is a harmonized standard for reporting, so that CleanApp reports that are submitted in numerous platforms can be culled together into actionable BigData.

A few examples:

  1. How many tons of debris were created by the 2017 Hurricane Harvey?
  2. How many tons of debris were created by the 2017 Mumbai floods?
  3. What were the forms of hazardous debris unleashed by the 2017 hurricanes, and where were they dispersed?
  4. How many tons of debris were created by the 2017 Hurricane Maria that affected Puerto Rico?
  5. What are the disposal timeframes & planned disposal locations for the mountains of debris in cities like Houston?
  6. etc.

Even estimates like the one above make clear that they are based on incomplete data that needs on-the-ground verification. It may surprise even the most active citizens, but even with all our tech advances, there are no robust answers to these straightforward questions about these actual widescale natural disasters. It’s quaint to assume that government agencies are on the job, aiming their their ultra-precise realtime imagery satellites or aerial assets at disaster zones. But it’s far better to add redundancies in the form of ground-sourced/crowd-sourced data. As a British PM once famously said,

It’s good to trust; but it’s better to verify.

Skeptics can raise all sorts of arguments for why CleanApp tech shouldn’t necessarily be a priority item in large-scale disaster relief operations. But the received wisdom in disaster recovery zones like Puerto Rico shows otherwise. When more than half of the island is still without electricity as of the end of November 2017, but cell phone service is being restored at a much faster rate, Puerto Ricans should have the ability to send CleanApp reports for neighborhood transformers & power lines they believe are much higher priority-need items. This is common sense; and this is the least that BigTech can do for natural disaster victims today, and in the future.

See also