Intern Report: Coordinating Efforts by Volunteer and Technical Communities for Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Relief
Erin Boehmer, Research Assistant Commons Lab of the Science and Technology Innovation Program Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars July 22, 2011
On my honor as a University student, on this assignment I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid as defined by the Honor Guidelines for papers in Science, Technology and Society courses.
Volunteer and Technical Communities (V&TCs), are global networks composed of technical professionals and volunteers with expertise in social media, geographic information systems (GIS), database management, and/or online campaigns. These communities are quickly redefining disaster preparedness, response, and relief, but face organizational, technical, social, and political challenges (detailed in this paper). For example, many V&TCs’ have distributed internal structures that support open source software development and prevent against slowmoving bureaucracy. This design challenges the status quo of humanitarian aid organizations and government agencies and makes interactions amongst parties challenging as V&TCs work to gain trust and acceptance and adhere to established protocols and procedures. The coordination of future endeavors among V&TCs would assist in addressing such issues. It is unclear, however, what coordinated step would most effectively mitigate or eliminate the effects of current challenges within the disaster response community. In this analysis, I propose four alternative strategies. The first calls for the discussion and establishment of protocols to which relevant V&TCs must adhere. The second establishes a coordination board, composed of leaders in modern disaster relief, to develop standard systems that V&TCs are encouraged to implement. The third develops V&TCs’ presence in academia. The final option suggests that V&TCs continue developing separately and informally interact when necessary. After rating the alternatives based on efficacy, cost, time, and political feasibility, I conclude that establishing protocols and standards specific to the different types of V&TCs, developing a standard plug-in for after-action data collection, and branding the term “V&TC,” will best bolster V&TCs efforts to enhance data collection and communication during disasters and crises.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary List of Figures Acknowledgements Introduction Current Issues within the V&TC Community Strategizing Future Relationships Among V&TCs Proposed Alternatives
Establish a Set of Protocols and Standards Establish a V&TC Coordination Board Develop a Presence in Academia Continue Developing Separately with Informal Interactions
i iii iv 1 5 11 11 11 13 14 15 15 16 23 26 26 29 35 39
Criteria for Evaluation Analysis of Alternatives Recommendations and Conclusion Appendix A: V&TC Profiles
Geeks Without Bounds Standby Task Force (Crisis Mappers) CrisisCommons
List of Figures
Table 1: Ability of Alternatives to Address V&TCs' Challenges ................................................. 19 Table 2: Evaluation Matrix ........................................................................................................... 19
Figure 1: Ushahidi-Haiti map. ........................................................................................................ 3 Figure 2: Internal structure of GWOB.. ........................................................................................ 20 Figure 3: Internal structure of the Standby Task Force. ............................................................... 20 Figure 4: SBTF Workflow. ........................................................................................................... 20 Figure 5: SBTF Webinar Interface ............................................................................................... 20 Figure 6: CrisisCommons Structure. ............................................................................................ 20
including Joe Filvarof. John Crowley (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative). and Stuart Gill and Will Pate (Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery). specifically Michael Rodemeyer and Jim Turner.
. Patrick Meier. I would also like to thank the Policy Internship Program at the University of Virginia. for providing me with the opportunity to explore the world of technology policy in Washington. Kirk Morris (Standby Task Force). Kirk Morris. Without your contributions. Thank you to all of those within the Volunteer and Technical Communities (V&TCs) and related organizations for giving me your time and explaining the intricacies of V&TCs’ structures and interactions. DC. and Mark Prutsalis. CrisisCommons. Nigel McNie (Programming Volunteer for CrisisMappers. and SBTF).iv
I would like to thank all those with the Science and Technology Innovation Program at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for exposing me to the excitement and challenges inherent within emerging technology policy. I would specifically like to express my gratitude to Lea Shanley and David Rejeski for their dedication and mentorship during my time at the Center. I would also like to acknowledge those who reviewed earlier versions of this report and offered their valuable edits and insight. Robbin Boehmer. Willow Brugh (Geeks Without Bounds). Lea Shanley. this endeavor would not have been possible. specifically Andrew Turner (CrisisCommons). Mark Prutsalis (Sahana Software Foundation). Nigel McNie.
In the past. Louisiana State Senator Robert Barham. and Federal officials were forced to depend on a variety of conflicting reports from a combination of media. chairman of the State Senate's homeland security committee. many of which continued to provide inaccurate or incomplete information throughout the day. The New Orleans Mayor’s Office operated out of a Hyatt Hotel for several days after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. It got to the point that people were literally writing messages on paper. This meant that the Mayor was neither able to effectively command the local efforts. nor was he able to guide the State and Federal support for two days following the storm…. unable to establish reliable communications with anyone outside the hotel for nearly forty-eight hours. authoritative reporting from the field was extremely difficult to obtain because of the widespread destruction of communications infrastructure…. 42-43)
. pp. State. government and private sources. (Executive Office of the President. “People could not communicate. putting them in bottles and dropping them from helicopters to other people on the ground. officials and volunteers responding to disasters reported a sense of chaos and desperation resulting from devastated communications infrastructures on the ground. [L]ocal. further clouding the understanding of what was occurring in New Orleans…. A 2006 committee commissioned by the Executive Office of the President to report on lessons learned from the federal response to Hurricane Katrina describes the scene:
On the day of landfall. summed up the situation in Louisiana by stating.
To some. Both “VTC” and “V&TC” are commonly used to describe the organizations (due to the different brandings in the “Volunteer and Technical Communities: Open Development” report and the “Disaster 2. In order for the nascent network to establish a professional reputation. the community must agree on how to officially refer to itself. database management. only the term “V&TC” should be used in the fut ure in order to credit all those who give their time within the community and to avoiding wasting valuable volunteer time on a relatively unproductive debate. food. skills like database design and computer hacking. Therefore.
. and methodologies such as Scrum development or Extreme Programming (XP) in order to improve on ground communication and organization practices. disregarding the dedicated workers within the field who are paid (M. the title “Volunteer Technology Community” only credits volunteer positions. Therefore. personal communication. which established a free phone number (4636) in order to “allow people on the ground to text their requests for medical care.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies” report). geographic information systems (GIS).
During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. July 17.
The term “V&TC” is used in this paper as the official terminology for a network of volunteer and professional technical workers. V&TCs worked with a noticeable presence. high-bandwidth cell phones running on a 3G or 4G network. the world has seen cellphones transform from simple voice devices to digital devices as people send text messages. Prutsalis. 2011). These volunteers are able to harness the growing power of applications like Twitter and Facebook. V&TCs are networks of “technical professionals with deep expertise in social media. the disaster relief community has seen the rise of Volunteer and Technical Communities (V&TCs)1. 2010). but rather personal. browse and post content online. [and] online campaigns [who apply] their skills to some of the hardest elements of the disaster risk management process” (GFDRR Labs. and explore the functionalities of applications.2
Since Hurricane Katrina. devices such as Androids and iPads. in response to communication failures during crises and the new standards of communication technologies. Remotely located technical volunteers developed Mission 4636. The norm for most people is no longer a landline home phone.
Often these technologists mapped the Mission 4636 messages and other crowdsourced data using open source platforms such as Ushahidi or OpenStreetMap (see the Ushahidi-Haiti map below in Figure 1). geolocated.3
water. Red circles show the number of reports within that area.d.
Figure 1: Ushahidi-Haiti map. and distributed it to various emergency responders and aid organizations…. security. a user may choose to view the contents of the reports. This service garnered about 80.ushahidi.com).). [T]he service scaled up about one week after the earthquake to include [responses such as] serious injuries. requests for fresh drinking water. n. security and shelter from any Digicel / Comcel-Voila device and receive aid” (Mission 4636. predominantly in Haitian Kreyol.000 messages.d.
. unaccompanied children and clusters of requests for food. which workers and volunteers translated. and categorized via online crowdsourcing platforms which “sorted the information by need and priority. On the right side panel. When clicked. and even childbirths” (Mission 4636. users may choose to display only certain categories of messages and requests (taken from http://haiti. n.).
and serving large data sets” (GFDRR Labs. and intelligently coordinate response efforts (HaitiVoiceNeeds. their formulation. where communication systems were devastated.
. the applications and tools that V&TCs develop may play a growing role in disaster preparedness and planning. however. has led to a new set of challenges and complexities within and among the V&TCs. In this way. humanitarian relief organizations. they are also asking the community to change the range of possible behaviors that users perform in the software which is roughly analogous to asking for a change to law of policy in a real-world town or city” (p. the European Union. into information systems in Washington. as crowdsourced data can be gathered from local residents to inform authorities of failing infrastructure or. pairing victims in need of resources and aid organizations navigating to where help was most needed.
Many of the prevalent V&TCs today have brought forth beneficial changes within the realm of disaster response. The application worked as a sort of Craigslist. preparedness lessons can be disseminated to at risk communities. 2010). and Federal and State and local governments. 40). V&TCs also were able to “provide reachback support to the United Nations (UN). making their supercomputers and large storage arrays available for processing imagery. in reverse. We Need application. calmly. DC or New Zealand where volunteers could quickly. The application helped officials by routing information out of the disaster. which could be accessed via smart phone or computer.4
Others created applications such as the We Have.
The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (2011) also recognized V&TCs as a powerful tool for community empowerment: “When crisis responders ask for (or themselves build) new features. United States and across the globe. managing translation workflows. 2010).
While some of these issues deal with the organizational and technical aspects of software development.5
Current Issues within the V&TC Community
Volunteers and professionals working in the nascent field of volunteer-based technology development for disaster preparedness. Prutsalis. Turner. July 18. Some organizations.” (Coleman.
Strategic design. cultural differences. response. has proven to be especially challenging for V&TC developers due to the unpredictable nature of disasters and the limited availability of volunteers involved in V&TCs.
Disaster-affected communities are often a diverse group of people as crises affect individuals differing in age. 2011). and – as ironic as it may sound – other ideals. material constraints. one of the most fundamental considerations when building applications and technologies for modern disaster relief is to understand the needs of people of different backgrounds in divergent contexts – especially if developers intend to deploy the project during more than one event. but witness an influx of interest when a disaster strikes (A. A lack of activity during times of non-disaster leads to a lack of planning and preventative measures and results in volunteers having to “catch-up” to the influx of pleas from victims after a crisis takes place (M. personal communication. Many organizations have only a few regularly active members during static times. localized needs. Therefore. others are social and political in nature and surface when the groups interact. and relief have expressed various problems that V&TCs must address in order to improve their effectiveness. culture. June 8. and economic background. personal communication. 2011). Yet the challenge of creating a universal design is inherent in consumer technology and has been described as the need to balance “ideals and the pragmatics of incorporating those ideals within a context of multiple voices. however.
is often collected through Skype chats and forums after the disaster has taken place. 2011). McNie. August 23. and Geeks Without Bounds.
Some V&TCs have devised ways to collect feedback on applications and response systems. Nigel McNie. the feedback will fail to incorporate the opinions of people who looked at an app and “got confused/frustrated [and left the app] without giving any feedback” (Nigel McNie. Collecting information on the ground also would allow V&TCs to “gauge how far knowledge of the map percolated throughout the community…. [feel] no responsibility. have notably risen to the challenge of inspiring volunteerism and development during static times by engaging in tasks such as creating custom Ushahidi instances ready for deployment and hosting mobile disaster app “hackathons” (see Appendix A). personal communication. in these circumstances. Yet there still exists a need to devise a robust post-crisis system to regularly and methodically collect user feedback and to gather statistical and qualitative data regarding the technologies. 2011). June 3.6
such as Random Hacks of Kindness. and [do not want to] deal with paperwork” (N. One reason for the lack of post-crisis analysis of projects’ effectiveness and usability is that volunteers feel “burnt-out. Personal surveying would mitigate the possibility of data suffering from "user bias. but focus mainly on feedback from volunteers rather than victims." If information is only collected digitally or through secondary sources (such as the volunteers who interacted with victims). Feedback. a volunteer during the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. [If information is collected through other means. the Standby Task Force. it is likely that] only people who have heard of the [apps] will be giving feedback” (Nigel
. 2011). personal communication. August 23. [are] not receiving pay. emphasizes the importance of collecting information from crisis victims by interviewing people face-to-face (personal communication.
2010). Even within the disaster response and relief community “some field staff members [during the earthquake in Haiti] were [only] tangentially aware of the resources that were available. visualization and interactive mapping) have enjoyed publicity in widely viewed sources such as The Washington Post and The New York Times (Turner. Some V&TCs find. that they gain significant recognition from government. and IT companies during disasters when authorities in the disaster afflicted regions turn to crowdsourcing technologies to mitigate the effects of the crises and stimulate communication (McManus. such as Ushahidi (a non-profit organization that develops free and open source software for information collection. personal communication. As John Hagel III of McKinsey & Co.7
McNie. humanitarian organizations.
Another issue for V&TCs with dwindling volunteer bases during static times is raising awareness of their group’s existence within the general public. 2011). While some groups. few V&TCs have established protocols for promptly interviewing victims and collecting information on applications after a disaster. [and] were too busy to take advantage of the resources or to consider the changes to workflows and methods that these new information resources would entail” (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 2009) (Giridharadas.
Including more volunteers in the V&TCs’ operations highlights the importance of cultivating trust with partnering organizations and with victims and volunteers working on the ground. others have yet to gain recognition beyond their direct circles despite significant contributions to the field. 2011). and John Seely Brown of the University of Southern
. Despite the potential for personal surveying on the ground to reveal critical information about how an application was used. however. August 23. 2011).
2010). This stereotype of the V&TC “hacker” community clashes with national and international systems established within the context of government to government or government to international institution interactions (GFDRR Labs.
Governments and formal organizations in the past have also struggled in partnering with certain V&TCs (especially if the V&TC requires funding) due to a loosely defined internal structure or lack of an officially established organization. This issue. 11). internationally competitive process (S. and information sharing have [or are perceived as having] limited field experience and [supposedly] an engineer’s approach of ‘just do it’” (GFDRR Labs. is less about the engineering/hacker mentality among V&TC members (as many of the members also have experience in humanitarian aid). in fact. established disaster aid organizations. Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery Labs (GFDRR Labs) at the World Bank describes the difficulty of funding open development groups with loosely defined structures. For this reason. yet “many of the technologists that are building new platforms for imagery. Unlike information which can be more readily codified and disseminated. however. mapping. and victims is to work in coordination with established humanitarian communities and governments. In short.8
California (2006) explain. knowledge tends to reside in individuals and it is very context specific. 2010). 2011). A feasible way to increase trust among V&TCs. and more addressing the often inaccurate perception of what type of person a V&TC represents. personal communication. “knowledge does not ‘flow’ – it tends to be. July 20. very ‘sticky’…. knowledge sharing typically requires trust-based relationships and a sharing of practice” (p. as GFDRR Labs can only provide projects with resources through a formal. there is “no easy way to push money to [those]
50% of related tweets will deny that information (much of the remaining population will tweet related questions)(Mendoza. n. and individuals lacking the knowledge and skill necessary to organize disaster relief efforts (K. which aim to “harness the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process” (Open Source Initiative. July 20. August 21. many groups have demonstrated strategies that can be used to reduce the possibility of encountering unforeseen vulnerabilities and security threats (Chameles. 95. personal communication. The V&TC movement is largely based on open source software and cloud-computing. personal communication. 2011). the projects and data could be accessible to terrorists. with very little moderation or control by the site’s owners and very little restriction on the nature of content. Poblete. such as volunteered geographic information (VGI). 2011). Morris. a recent report conducted by Yahoo researchers shows that. 2011).).9
organizations that do not formally exist [on paper]” (S.
. In some cases users [can] even edit the content created by others” (Goodchild. generates specific concerns regarding abuse as it is “user-generated content. 2007). during the earthquake in Chile. such as through the development of a new Ushahidi instance that specifically addresses vulnerabilities or by gathering all volunteers after a crisis to discuss lessons learned (K. Morris. if a V&TC does not prioritize security and data verification. personal communication. Gill. However. Furthermore. Data.d. June 3. corrupt leaders seeking to shut-down or punish activists. Yet in the case of a false-rumor.5% of tweets related to confirmed-truths validate the information. The open source nature of this data means that. 2011).
Another issue to consider is the increased potential for security threats and liability issues if a given V&TC does not plan for the distant future.
For example. but could easily violate the contract if they did not remove the data from their application by the specified date (M. 51).
Sharing data amongst V&TCs and other open source initiatives has raised the possibility of licensing issues. These relationships are at times detrimental to the
Visit http://code. praising volunteers for their altruistic efforts. 2011.google. implicitly suggesting that paid volunteers are less selfless and less valuable within the community. and some are finding the need to compete in areas of overlap or are being asked to tackle issues where other V&TCs are already working” (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Some groups within the V&TC community have also experienced internal challenges. the user must ensure that he abides by the rules of each license or face legal penalties.com/p/googlepersonfinder for more information about Google’s missing persons data or http://code.10
Castillo. personal communication. an application may scrape data from multiple websites and display the data within the context of its own site. If the sources all have licenses for redistribution or commercial purposes. p. 2011). One instance of this was described in the 2011 Disaster Relief 2. This could be seen with Google’s missing persons data2.0 report.com/p/googlepersonfinder/wiki/DataAPI for the application’s API. July 18. which could include user-specified dates for when their data should be destroyed. “Communities that need each other’s strengths are being forced to compete for money in the donor pool. This study demonstrates the often undermined power of a community to correct itself.google. 2011).
. Individuals within the community have also begun to differentiate between paid versus unpaid workers. Prutsalis. Developers could pull data into their applications using the Person Finder API.
Others.” (p. the remainder of this paper will seek to answer the question: what coordinated step should Volunteer and Technical Communities take in order to reduce the effects of or eliminate the issues currently experienced during technical disaster preparedness. see competition as a positive force and are comfortable with the present situation. 2011)(Verity.
Strategizing Future Relationships Among V&TCs
John Hagel III and John Seely Brown (2006) accurately describe the V&TC movement: Individuals and organizations come together and collaborate in evolving networks of creation…. and relief?
Alternative 1: Establish a Set of Protocols and Standards
Many V&TCs were founded within the last few years and are relatively new entities in the world of international humanitarian response. They often work in parallel and then fight and learn from each other when the time comes to try to integrate their work into a broader offering. In order to partner with and gain the respect of governments
. They play off each other.11
overall effort and must be controlled in order to sustain a benevolent partnership amongst and within divergent entities. however. learning from it. response. building on top of it. 10)
This has led some leaders within humanitarian organizations and V&TCs to suggest coordinating efforts among the many different groups in order to mitigate the current problems within the field (Crowley. appropriating each other’s work. although they represent a set of skills much needed in disaster relief (refer to Appendix A). Therefore. and then watching and learning from what others do with their own creations. 2011).
standards. workflows. The discussion should be mediated by a neutral party. and protocols.12
and established humanitarian organizations. and protocols:
It [should be] possible to say to organizations when they arrive.0 report. 41). especially those that work in human rights (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 2011.’ The UN could use its bully pulpit role to enforce that. Otherwise you get the same wonderful people who do the best
. as long as it conforms to these standards. 41). p. ‘you are not playing unless you are playing according to this architecture. The discussion should include pertinent groups such as the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) at the World Bank and the Red Cross as well as all known V&TCs.
Among the goals of such an effort will be to establish standard accountability controls to ensure compliance with a large range of international agreements and internal processes and policies (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. V&TCs at the 2010 International Crisis Mappers conference discussed “an ‘API for the UN’… with the core notion being that the UN should partner with the V&TCs to establish a common set of protocols to connect their people. p.44). standards.
As David Aylward explains in the Disaster Relief 2. and data flows. Such protocols will also establish a means to deal with the accidental release of data that would put vulnerable populations at risk as well as protocols to address licensing discrepancies and to establish a baseline of trust among organizations. Use any software you want. Some V&TCs do have methods for dealing with these issues. p.” (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 2011. 2011. the end product of this effort will be agreed upon V&TC architectures.
9). It’s absurd to keep doing it over and over. 2006. The individual members would not be paid and would only convene when a defined proportion of V&TCs within the community solicits their attention. to define systematic workflows that V&TCs could then be encouraged to adopt. p. Assembling members who have a deep and diverse knowledge of the crisis community.
The board would be approached with problem statements by the V&TCs and their humanitarian or government partners and would work. 8). this alternative suggests V&TCs should focus their efforts on forming a global practice network in the form of a “coordination board” rather than developing standardized systems and protocols without the establishment of a higher level entity.
Therefore.’ (as cited in Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. but are not volunteering all of their time to V&TCs. This board would be nominated by members of V&TCs based on skill. p.13
they can with the electronic equivalent of duct tape. The practice orchestrators can successfully play a less active role in terms of recruitment and management of specific creation initiatives because participants share similar mentalities and practices (Hagel & Brown. An example of one of the
. 2011. reputation. and ability to lead and would consist of unbiased individuals (who are not associated with any particular V&TC). 42)
Alternative 2: Establish a V&TC Coordination Board
John Hagel and John Seely Brown (2006) describe a “global practice network” which connects participants with similar sensibilities and practices through a centralized “practice orchestrator” who defines a system for participation within the network and for integrated activity (p. will assist in ensuring that the board members have time to convene when necessary. with feedback from the V&TC community.
55). but also in at-risk locations such as
. Smith. academia will both serve as a form of advertisement and a means to provide V&TCs with a dedicated source of trusted labor. By involving academia more prominently in the V&TCs’ development and deployment efforts. The board would leave the establishment of specific protocols and standards to individual V&TCs.
Furthermore. and redesign may be supported. ethnic. Students will be mentored by experienced faculty within related departments and will work together on teams. 2010) and students have historically made major contributions to V&TC efforts (such as those at Tufts’ Fletcher School who ran Ushahidi-Haiti).14
board’s primary foci will be to implement strategies to support risk reduction and prevention among V&TCs during static periods as a more effective way to save lives when crises do strike (GFDRR Labs. Students from many different academic. development.
Alternative 3: Develop a Presence in Academia
The V&TC effort is in need of a neutral venue where problems faced both by the international humanitarian relief communities and the V&TCs can be discussed by individuals with different belief structures without fear of harsh confrontation (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. economic. a iterative process of design. evaluation of successes and failures. Schoppa. This will also be achieved by forming partnerships not only with universities in the United States. Schools and academia are recognized by those involved in development work as a means to bypass the complications that arise through politics (Boehmer. and racial backgrounds should also be encouraged in this endeavor in order to continue and further V&TCs’ diverse support. p. This will be achieved in part by emphasizing the international aspects of projects (which will attract students who speak other languages or have experience living in other countries). 2010). 2011.
This model has already been adopted by the crisis mapping NGO. through their Universities for Ushahidi program (see http://u4u. and share contributed data” (Elwood. among multiple V&TCs. Appendix A demonstrates how each V&TC is designing an internal system that best suits its needs given its specific mission and is forming a “competitive architecture that can accelerate capability building” (Hagel & Brown. and other issues will become obsolete. and the infrastructures used to store. Some experts argue that the ability “to provide reliable… information depends upon motivated citizens. 2008).
. others will fail in their attempts due to the natural competition among competitors engaged in similar pursuits.ushahidi. time. p. and political feasibility. the accessibility and usability of data collection tools and techniques. While some endeavors will experience success.
Alternative 4: Continue Developing Separately with Informal Interactions
The possibility remains that V&TCs may not need to embark on a coordinated effort to reform their developing disaster response and relief strategies.
The four stated alternatives will be evaluated based on the follow set of criteria: efficacy. within the V&TC community as a whole. cost. invest in academia. This example will serve as a preliminary case study on which other V&TCs can develop their future academic partnerships. or devise a coordination board as systems ill-designed to handle liability. and within the disaster response community as a whole. 13). 2011). validate. 2006.com/ for more information) (Himelfarb.15
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Efficacy refers to the ability of each alternative to bring about significant and desired change within V&TCs. Ushahidi. trust. This form of “natural selection” among V&TCs will eliminate the need to establish protocols.
This highlights the potential successes and inadequacies of each of the four alternatives. This criterion will also take into account the possibility of local. federal.16
Cost refers to the monetary cost of the endeavor.
The four alternatives are compared in Table 1 below by their ability to address the problem statements discussed earlier in this paper. Political feasibility will assess the likelihood that V&TCs and humanitarian organizations adopt the alternative given the potential existing positions and tensions within the community. The time required to complete the task demands attention given the limited time that volunteers are able to dedicate. and state governments to support the action and involving the outcomes of the endeavor in relief efforts.
. which is a necessary consideration given the non-profit or completely volunteer status of the organizations.
protocols ensure a level of V&TC responsibility
Yes Student and professors will work during static times
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Gather afteraction data
Yes Will devise a postcrisis data collection workflow
Yes A system for postdisaster data collection can be devised or students can be enlisted to collect data on the ground
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Raise awareness of V&TCs/projects
Maybe If devised systems are adopted.17
V&TCs need to:
Alternative 1: Establish a Set of Protocols and Standards
Alternative 2: Establish a V&TC Coordination Board
Maybe Would have the potential to promote best workflows for incorporating a large. may lead to more trust
No May lead to a lack of trust by victims/organizations on a design level. Yes At least to some extent. which will better allow them to interact with groups such as UN OCHA or the Red Cross. This will lead to better publicity. which would attract static period volunteerism Yes Protocols will require V&TCs to collect after-action data Yes Protocols will help to professionalize V&TCs. may lead to greater success and therefore publicity. which may lead to publicity. diverse user base or for preparing puppet scripts and then customizing for deployment Maybe May devise successful systems that cause V&TCs to gain recognition from potential volunteers
Alternative 3: Develop a Presence in Academia
Alternative 4: Continue Developing Separately with Informal Interactions
Address different communities and contexts
No This would still be the responsibility of V&TC project teams
Yes Will include participants from a range of backgrounds and will promote disaster preparedness in many regions
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Attract volunteers during static periods
Maybe Protocols will lead to a higher level of professionalism.
Yes Would become a campaign across many universities
Maybe V&TCs will experience varying levels of publicity based on their marketing and success
Cultivate trust of volunteers and V&TCs
Maybe If V&TCs adopt the workflows and they are successful. but students may be trusted more easily on an ethical level
Maybe V&TCs may begin to gain trust naturally as the groups mature
other organizations will be familiar with certain aspects of all V&TCs before beginning a project
No Does not address this issue
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Address the possibility of liability issues
No Liability strategies will be determined by individual V&TCs.
No Does not address this issue. hackathon-based. although universities may be used as a forum for discussion
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Address the possibility of security threats
Yes Specific protocols should be established for each generalized category of V&TC
Maybe The Board will not address how groups should handle security breaches. crowdsourced mapbased)
Maybe If V&TCs adopt the standardized systems. although universities may be used as a forum for discussion No It is more likely that spreading V&TCs efforts among many different universities will increase project overlap (this may be helpful though projects can be designed specifically for an area and population)
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Reduce the instances of project overlap
Maybe Could simulate better coordination and communication among V&TCs
No Because the board can only suggest workflows. a protocol may require data providers to clearly show users when the data must be deleted
No Does not address this issue. web scripts that filter out bad data such as spam or verification teams) No This will be handled by individual V&TCs
No Does not address this issue.18
Improve coordination with established organizations
Yes Can create protocols such as the requirements to become an official V&TC. This may later be used to apply for funding. Yes Specific protocols should be established for each generalized category of V&TC (exp. thereby reducing overlap
. but may recommend systems that protect against security threats (exp. unlikely that it will significantly impact possible project overlap
Maybe Certain V&TCs may establish a reputation for specific tasks as they mature. although universities may be used as a forum for discussion
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Address the possibility of licensing issues
Yes For example.
inexpensive. in this analysis. each of the four alternatives is evaluated by the proposed criteria. The proposed alternatives are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 3. A score of 3. The rationale for these ratings is described below.
. Using the information from Table 1. represents an effective.19
Create a sense of equity between volunteers and professionals
Yes Standardize use of “V&TC” to include both volunteers and professionals
No Will not be able to have much impact on intra-V&TC relationships
No Does not address this issue
Maybe V&TCs may devise their own strategies for this
Table 1: Ability of Alternatives to Address V&TCs' Challenges.
Alternative 1: Establish a Set of Protocols and Standards Alternative 2: Establish a V&TC Coordination Board Alternative 3: Develop a Presence in Academia Alternative 4: Continue Developing Separately with Informal Interactions
Table 2: Evaluation Matrix.
The results from Table 1 indicate the first alternative’s success in addressing a majority of the problems many V&TCs are facing. The results of this comparison are shown in Table 2 and explained below. and politically feasible option with minimal time requirements. especially relative to the other three alternatives’ outcomes.
Alternative 1 would be extremely effective due to the large span of protocols that could be implemented. Though the protocols may require more than a year to discuss and establish throughout the network of V&TCs it would be politically feasible as few groups are opposed to the establishment of protocols within the network (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. official protocols would also aid with intra-V&TC problems through mandates such as making the term “V&TC” official rather than “VTC.” as V&TC highlights the participation of both volunteers and professionals in the movement. By establishing protocols. it may also shoulder certain aspects of the financial burden. 2011. and security (such as through the use of a disclaimer notice or a data filtering script) would set a standard on which V&TCs could collaborate and build. the V&TCs would be more easily able to collaborate with existing humanitarian organizations and governments and therefore would gain recognition and trust from disaster-stricken communities. p.
The second alternative has the capacity to produce similar results to the first alternative. determining how similar organizations should deal with difficult issues such as liability. licensing. as the board would be able to establish some standards with the added ability to develop standardized systems (ie. Clear. the protocols would be made publicly available in keeping with the open source nature of V&TCs. Although this alternative does not immediately address the lack of volunteers during static periods. protocols could be established to demand the collection of after-action data. 44). but that cost may be covered by a significant grant or several individual grants to V&TCs. Furthermore. designs for disaster preparedness programs) that V&TCs would be encouraged to
. The primary costs of the endeavor would be paying for travel and the coordination of meetings. If the UN becomes involved in the endeavor.
during. from FEMA to the Red Cross to CrisisCommons. economic. versus professional. The fact that membership on the board is an honorary. as organizations often need to quickly decide on internal structures and policies – especially during a crisis. It is likely that the groups may have a difficult time selecting individuals to serve of the board without contentious. This would delay efforts and render the board less effective. In order to ensure that this does not occur. The diversity of the group. The alternative would also be critiqued by V&TCs who would view the board as an added layer of bureaucracy in a system that is intentionally designed to function from a grassroots level. would help to facilitate discussions of how to best design projects for similarly diverse user populations. there are several concerns that must be considered. damage the open source nature of the groups. a significant amount of time must be allotted for discussion and debate among relevant organizations. The first is the political feasibility of this alternative given the many different personalities and opinions involved in the V&TC movement. These systems would provide a baseline from which V&TCs would build. This would restrict collaboration amongst the groups. V&TCs will establish a level of trust
. and after a crisis. The board’s determinations would therefore be recommended rather than mandatory and would mainly be adopted during static periods. However. position increases the likelihood that those involved would not be able to prioritize their positions when in conflict with their professional schedules. which could lead to a complex set of political boundaries among V&TCs.
Investing in an advertising campaign within academia and coordinating the development of student groups and research projects in support of V&TCs would engage a reliable and large group of diverse volunteers before. and possibly lead to the board’s rejection within certain crowds. in terms of academic. and cultural backgrounds.21
academia provides a “safe space where those with different belief structures around [their] work can safely raise issues and explore alternative mindsets…. such as developing a plug-in to be used in all platforms for after-action data collection. Prutsalis. even if V&TCs do not take action to coordinate their efforts more closely. yet it will also demand time and patience as V&TC mentors answer questions and review students’ efforts (M. p. [The academic forum is] open to everyone from donors and beneficiaries to technologists at operational organizations and the agencies that contract with them” (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. discussions and changes within the community. 55). which suggests no changes to the current system. It only requires a loose coordination among V&TCs in order to increase the efficacy of the effort. however. Allotting tasks to students may save organizations valuable time. the option is one of the most politically feasible. V&TCs were formed in times of rapid
. personal communication. July 17. This politically neutral forum would also make feasible future. potentially contentious. would produce no additional costs or volunteered time. 2011). innovation within organizations will solve some of the problems that the community currently faces. Furthermore. The involvement of student groups.
The final alternative. the current networks are advised against continuing without further coordination of interactions. Although the advertising campaign within universities may be costly if groups decide to invest in marking strategies such as online advertisements or publicity events at Universities.22
with student groups as they work with the groups to discuss problems and possible project designs. It is also likely that. as it is unclear what skill level a given student represents. 2011. Yet. and would be welcomed by students and universities seeking to get involved in the nascent and exciting field. could lead to a weakened trust of V&TCs’ application designs by major organizations.
Through this lateral learning. healthcare. This will help organizations to systematically deal with difficult issues such as liability and licensing. governmental agencies. while leaving strategic operations (such as recruiting and retaining volunteers during static periods) to the individuals groups. 11). separate development might be possible. the leaders of technology-driven crisis response will understand what processes and methodologies succeeded and failed in the field and why. July 20. The quantitative results from the evaluation matrix and supporting rationale show that the best coordination alternative to pursue (among those proposed) is Alternative 1: Establishing a Set of Protocols and Standards. Gill.23
change such as during the Indian Ocean Earthquake (Sahana Software Foundation) or postelection violence in Kenya (Ushahidi). 2006. p. 2011). While this caused V&TCs to adopt a “bootstrapping mindset” and potentially act as catalysts to re-shape and re-focus institutions.
Recommendations and Conclusion
Leaders from within humanitarian organizations. and other relevant communities (S. personal communication. while establishing a standard level of trust to allow the routine incorporation of V&TC efforts within the larger framework of governmental and humanitarian relief. leader of the new GFDRR
. but it is not recommended. education. This will allow natural competition among organizations to ensue. Therefore. and V&TCs agree that coordinating efforts among the many different players is critical to resolving problems surrounding current disaster relief efforts (Crowley. Stuart Gill. “knowledge sharing and shared understanding become even more effective when participants come together on a regular basis to undertake new collaborative creation efforts” (Hagel & Brown. 2011).
Volunteer and Technical Communities should begin establishing protocols and developing internal systems by studying reports from the open source.
and the SBTF. explains that people are benefitting from well-designed systems that Volunteer and Technical Communities have never heard about because of the small scale of the successful ventures. conducting post-crisis surveys with application users. and ‘What could we do to improve the service?’” This should be done by sending volunteers back to the location after the disaster has hit to gather first-hand data on how the applications were used. It would also be beneficial for V&TCs to use a plug-in that can be deployed through applications on any platform.
Additionally. the Standby Task Force. Nigel McNie (2011).24
Labs initiative at the World Bank. ‘Was it useful?’. and developing a standard plug-in for after-action data collection. says it is crucial that “V&TCs make a point of returning to the location post-crisis and asking the community questions like. July 20. ‘Did you see the map?’. This will provide V&TCs with a standardized means to collect data on the effectiveness of their projects. Crisis Mappers. ‘Was it easy to use?’.
By discussing and establishing protocols and standards. 2011). This information should then be filtered into an open source repository where V&TCs can observe what applications exist and how they can be improved based upon user feedback. a programmer for CrisisCommons. The plug-in will ask questions such as “Was this app useful? How?” and will only record personal information if the user gives permission. ‘Were your needs met?’. it is critical that groups work to collect data on projects that have been deployed so as to understand the successes and failures of the applications. yet “I know for a fact it would be of value to these communities to understand [how and] why the systems are successful” (personal communication. the newly established “creation net” of groups like Geeks Without Bounds. and
CrisisCommons will revolutionize data collection and communication during disasters and crises.
d. are working to hire a Project Coordinator as a fourth core team member. Project Management The group currently uses Atrium. GWOB was founded less than a year ago. a. GWOB does offer hosting
Appendix A: V&TC Profiles Geeks Without Bounds (GWOB)
I. Inc. 2011). to organize projects (see http://atrium. documentation is often disparate (a reason why the group has begun using Atrium). a list of members who have registered within the service. which occur throughout the year. humanitarian response officials (sometimes from the government) approach the group with problem definitions which technical volunteers work to address during the hackathon by building applications and other tools (W. a calendar with upcoming events. Brugh. At this point.” an event where software developers and technical experts gather to program and create applications with little restrictive overhead. The projects are encouraged to be open source. During GWOB’s weekend hackathons. July 6. For this reason.schoolfactory. the group functions under a two tiered management structure. Current Organizational Structure Geeks Without Bounds centers around the concept of a “hackathon. The two founders. July 6. as shown in Figure 1 below. The volunteers are sometimes rewarded with prizes. Brugh. and therefore is still working to define an internal structure (W. a task management system offered through School Factory. however. personal communication.
Stated Mission Geeks Without Bounds was founded in 2010 as a “not-for-profit alliance of hackers.. Johnny Diggz and Willow Brugh. n. [GWOB members] actively organize and help promote coding/hacking events to facilitate the building of tools and systems meant to alleviate many of the technical problems encountered during emergency and disaster situations” (GWOB. The core management team aims to effectively coordinate among the many different projects that form during Geeks Without Bounds’s hackathons. coders and geeks united by the common goal of assisting communities in distress. personal communication. The service allows members to list tasks to be completed and then maintain an open dashboard where the current state of the task is updated and discussed. introducing a level of competition and therefore motivation. and a GWOB blog.
. On the top most level are the group coordinators – currently a small team of three individuals with significant coding and software development experience. 2011).org/gwoborg/).). The Atrium site also includes tabs that display tweets from members’ Twitter accounts. yet teams are ultimately the owners of their developments and sometimes form businesses around their technologies.
and that they are able to pass their projects to other volunteers if necessary (W. publish that knowledge to the internet and encourage individuals to keep current tools updated and to build ones where none exist (W. Eventually. but many also choose to host their own applications (W. who are aware of where different tools related to V&TC efforts are located. July 6. July 6.
. While the core management team is a completely represented by the top tier. 2011). personal communication. She also encourages project volunteers to bring their work to future hackathons to continue working on them. She ensures that projects volunteers continue to make progress after leaving the hackathon. personal communication. 2011). have opportunities to publicize their work. Program Director Willow Brugh is responsible for tracking projects based on contacts made during GWOB hackathons. the number of projects (point of contact(s) or POC(s) and volunteers) is greater than what is pictured and expanding with each GWOB sponsored hackathon. The green coloring of the Project POC(s) and Project Volunteers indicates that some projects branch off from the GWOB structure and form their own. Brugh. July 6.27
Figure 2: Internal structure of GWOB.
services to developers. GWOB aims to establish an online “tool box” where GWOB coordinators. 2011). July 6. have the structure and resources they need to continue. personal communication. Brugh. 2011). personal communication. independent businesses (W. Brugh. Brugh.
Brugh. As Program Director Willow Brugh states. GWOB examines which projects are fully developed and available for use. July 6. III. it then asks the developers to teach others how to use and support the tool. July 6. July 6. July 6. because they're in it” (W. and the other where you can keep a secret. Brugh. therefore. If the application is relevant. GWOBs primary strategy is. 2011). “they will know what is appropriate. I guess the answer [to ‘how will GWOB deal with liability issues?’] is ‘we'll figure that out if it ever happens’” (personal communication. Project Deployment When disasters strike. personal communication. This process also helps to establish trust between the coordinators and volunteers. the GWOB coordinators call the individual project directors and ask to use the tool. By understanding the different personalities and skill levels within the groups. July 6. July 6. but new to humanitarians) (W. July 6. “I'm willing to take the liability of potentially harming someone if it also potentially saves a lot of people. Both are necessary in different contexts” (personal communication. This allows GWOB to understand not only how to prevent these situations from occurring. So. Coordination with other V&TCs is also expected to be helpful as it clarifies where to “send people with certain skill sets [in order to put them to] fuller use and [make them] feel better about their experience” (W. GWOB asks hackers to attempt to break the apps that are built and to manipulate the tool for misuse and corruption (an idea familiar to military and hacker communities. “I see that there are two kinds of trustworthiness: one where you always tell the truth. Brugh. but also how to damage the people trying to use it for evil in the process (W. [GWOB] doesn’t work well” (W. Geeks Without Bounds has not specified how they would deal with liability issues resulting from a user being harmed through the use of a GWOB developed application. personal communication.28
. Brugh. Brugh. 2011). As Willow Brugh explains. Once GWOB has the group’s permission. The possibility of this occurring is seen as negligible because when people working within the context of a disaster are given tools. The current leadership expects the future Project Coordinator (in conjunction with the Program Director and volunteers) to develop this aspect of the GWOB infrastructure. 2011). 2011). Volunteer Management Currently. personal communication. This stems from the group’s basis within the hacker community. GWOB recognizes the importance of designing a framework within which novice volunteers can adapt and grow. 2011). 2011). personal communication. which typically “expect[s] volunteers to just catch on” (W. to the organizational and technical aspects of the V&TC effort. July 6. 2011). in this case. personal communication. proactive. Brugh. personal communication. 2011). the team as a whole benefits. if volunteers “don’t already have some self-drive. GWOB aims to stay in contact with project teams both to ensure that the team has the necessary resources and continues to make progress.
II. Current Organizational Structure The SBTF was launched in 2010 at the International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM 2010) after being proposed by Patrick Meier. Report Team. but rather to “provide humanitarian organizations [working in crisis affected communities] with real-time Crisis Mapping support” (Standby Task Force. The core management of the Standby Task Force aims to eventually become “superfluous [in order to] fulfill the goal of the SBTF: creat[e] a space of empowerment where people learn how to work together and can do it independent of the core team” (Ayala. 2010). Tech Team. the group’s core team works to increase the ability and skills of SBTF volunteers and the sustainability of the effort through a continuous dialogue and coordination with other tech and crisis mapping endeavors (Standby Task Force. While the SBTF was originally divided into three teams.d.
. Chile and Pakistan (Standby Task Force.d.The SBTF is therefore different from many V&TCs as its primary focus is not to conceive and develop ideas for disaster technologies. as evidenced by the creation of the Sudan and Mumbai crisis maps by volunteers’ of their own volition (Kirk Morris.29
Standby Task Force (SBTF)
Style: Volunteer Network
I. 2011). which is not an organization. The team has made significant progress towards this end. In order to achieve this end.).). and Analysis Team. 2010). such as Haiti. The Force. Translation Team. Each of the ten teams is managed by several team coordinators who also act as the point of contact for the team. Verification Team. 2011).). n. works to streamline the informal distributed network of volunteers through an interface for crisis mapping based on lessons learned during prior disasters.d. the SBTF currently consists of ten teams: the Geo-Location Team. SMS Team. Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi and co-founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers (Meier. Humanitarian Team.
Stated Mission The Standby Task Force was created in response to the need for crisis responders to have “a trained and professionalized volunteer force [that could] be on standby and activated within hours” (Meier. n. Media Monitoring Team. n. Task Team. August 21.
Figure 3: Internal structure of the Standby Task Force. performing well-defined tasks (Standby Task Force. All teams work together during a crisis.).
.d. Each team is a self-sustaining entity with volunteers selected by the Volunteer Coordinators. n.
personal communication. 2011). August 21. joining a team. most structural work has already been completed. 2011). Morris. Project Management The Task Force is able to prepare for disasters by maintaining a customized instance of a Ushahidi map during static periods (K.31
Like many V&TCs. open source code repository. and Frontline SMS. Github. Morris. personal communication.
. personal communication. 2011). 2011). personal communication. It uses open source platforms such as Ushahidi. debugged. The SBTF will not deploy any volunteer teams until a relevant authority solicits their help (such as UN OCHA during the political crisis in Libya)( K. 2010). Volunteer Management The SBTF uses a customized group website in order to organize and coordinate amongst the ten different project groups. and sends electronic invitations to join the SBTF to any individual wishing to become a part of the effort (K. This allows the partner to make requests so that data is tailored to the specific needs of the community (K. When the SBTF does become involved. online. personal communication. This invitation contains instructions for filling out a member profile. while it also legitimizes the Task Force’s work and supports a high level of trust. and signing up to the SBTF Google Group (K. Morris. when a disaster occurs. Morris. in order to quickly deploy Ushahidi instances during crises (K. June 3. b. June 3. and then hosted on the popular. 2011). 2011). August 21. June 3. Morris. the SBTF is open source endeavor. personal communication. The SBTF also customizes the Ushahidi platform based on the lessons learned from previous deployments and puppet scripts are written. a. they use GitHub in order to support code sharing amongst the many different SBTF members and their partners (K. 2011). August 21. June 3. This process ensures a higher level of trust between volunteers as they work together during static times and also among the highly organized and structured organizations like the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (Meier. personal communication. Morris. An example of a workflow representing the organization of the Task Force can be seen in Figure 3 below. This ensures that. Morris. OpenStreetMap. Each team creates a workflow for new volunteers in order to quickly establish an understanding of their responsibilities within the context of the group.
SMS messages. 2011). Morris. Poblete.d. the results show that the percentage of tweets denying the information increases to about 50% (Mendoza. the group is also able to rely on the senders’ histories and the reactions of neighboring individuals on the ground in order to determine the validity of the data. when false information is tweeted. etc. However. Castillo. III. 2011). The webinars allow a more senior member of the team to educate a large number of people on topics such as how to use OpenStreetMap or the ethical protocols of disaster mapping (Morris. personal communication. 2011). Project Deployment Once an authority requests the SBTF’s aid. However.
. A recent study by a research team at Yahoo showed that 95% of tweets related to confirmed reports validated that information while a miniscule 0. the teams deploy a Ushahidi instance and begin monitoring and mapping media in the form of YouTube videos.03% of tweets denied the validity of these true cases (see Table 3 below). live UStream channels. n. June 3. Yet. 2011). often in the form of PowerPoint slides. This conclusion suggests that data verification may be possible through the aggregate analysis of tweets (Meier.32
Figure 4: SBTF Workflow. The issue of whether or not a piece of data is a rumor or true has arisen during several occasions. the Verification Team (one of the ten subdivisions of the SBTF) has been successful using forensic evidence from the message or video in order to determine its validity (K. training is also available through online webinars hosted via the AnyMeeting web conferencing service. However. Twitter feeds.b). (Standby Task Force.
The teams provide a variety of training materials to new members. blog posts.
2011). This is made possible by the fact that there are about 600 volunteers for the SBTF who reside in about sixty countries (Morris. 2011).
Table 3: Classification results for cases studied of confirmed truths and false rumors.
The Standby Task Force also utilizes the concept of a “handle” in order to map data. This means that. During the course of the project. Castillo. 2011). Projects also aim to return control of the project to local authorities after the course of about ten days (Morris. instead of asking individuals to tweet information whenever they deem necessary. 2011). 2011). and emotional fatigue (Morris. mental. Poblete. the SBTF asks groups to periodically report information to be mapped – this enables a higher level of trust for both the volunteers and the community (Morris. the group rotates among volunteers to prevent against physical. (Mendoza.
2011). A PowerPoint presentation appeared on the “Screen Share” tab later in the session (Morris. This online conferencing service was used to train volunteers from across the globe on the SBTF's geolocation tools.34
Figure 5: SBTF Webinar Interface.
and professionals collaborate to build open source tools to support aid workers (CrisisCommons. More specifically. 2011). Advocate for Access – Empowering global access to and freedom of expression (CrisisCommons Charter. Build Global Citizen Action .). United Kingdom. Respond to Crises – Development of the CrisisCommons Action Team (both virtual and physical) 7. Empower Communities – Encouraging CrisisCamps 2. n. Create Cross Response Collaboration – International aid & domestic response (closing the gap) 6.d. Cultivate World Sensors – Empowering independent reporting & aggregation during crisis 8.Empowering digital literacy to save lives 9. n. and general coordination of CrisisCommons.
Current Organizational Structure The idea of a “CrisisCamp” was founded in March 2009 as a barcamp event intended to “connect crisis management and global development practitioners to the technology volunteer community” (CrisisCommons.
Stated Mission CrisisCommons is currently working to become a primary resource in linking the disparate elements of a disconnected bureaucracy of crisis response organizations (CROs). Turner. CrisisCommons is working to define their governance structure. Some CrisisCamps.d. and maintains and supports a network of volunteers to provide tools and respond to crises” (Lurie. 7-9). hosts CrisisCamps where tools are produced . Innovate Crisis Tools of Tomorrow . Each CrisisCamp is its own entity and often has a group leader who is the point of contact (POC) for the project (although volunteers’s and POCs’ contact information is not routinely collected)(CrisisCommons.)
Style: Bar Camp
I. 2010.d.). n.Hackathon 5.d.000 people … worldwide in over 30 cities across 10 countries including France. n. During the crisis in Haiti. a core management team oversees the marketing. Share Technology Tools – Building the “Sourceforge” of Crisis Response OSS 4. CrisisCommons seeks to: 1. CrisisCommons is a grassroots movement that “provides tools to supports aid workers on the ground. and interested individuals (A. personal communication. pp. Presently however. June 8. CrisisCommons has since worked with “over 3. Become a Partnership Broker – proactively engaging crisis actors to facilitate technology challenges during crisis. New Zealand. V&TCs. Canada. citizen advocate 3.
. During CrisisCamps a global network of volunteers. Chile and Colombia” (CrisisCommons. technical development. CrisisCamp events became an official movement.). developers. 2010).
CrisisCommons is also reorganizing their use of collaboration tools (ie. and defining the environment. and project management tools (ie. CrisisCommons plans to coordinate their efforts through Oregon State University OpenSource Lab (OSL) (Infrastructure/Plan. While the organization hosts these pages internally. some specific Camps. content management tools. criteria. supporting the wiki). In order to address this issue and to offer effective support services. 2011). process. OSL’s responsibilities will include providing core services for running CrisisCommons during static times (ie. governance structures. and lifecycle for supporting new development. Skype).
a. and lifecycle for launching and supporting new sites (Infrastructure/Plan. The loose connections between independent CrisisCamps and CrisisCommons are highlighted by the broken lines on the left of the figure and the green color of the boxes. are gaining independence as they work to define their own structures and protocols. n. Turner.d. process. defining the environment. While most of the Camps are self-driven. Others are more ad hoc and depend on the CrisisCommons core team for governance and coordination with other CrisisCamp teams. Project Management CrisisCommons is primarily organized through the use of a wiki and blog where members post ideas regarding individual applications. afteraction reports. This causes an increased demand for server space and bandwidth during disasters and a lapse during static periods. it also offers ad hoc hosting services to developers working through individual CrisisCamps during disasters (A. and general information useful to the CrisisCommons community and other V&TCs. personal communication. criteria. One of the primary concerns with the use of
Figure 6: CrisisCommons Structure. June 8. A core team within CrisisCommons oversees the efforts of individual CrisisCamps (these individuals are not all listed in this figure).36
such as CrisisCampLdn. 2011). 2011).). Basecamp) (Infrastructure/Plan. have clearly defined structures and protocols for organizing volunteers during crises and have begun to branch off from CrisisCommons in an effort to clearly define their mission and structure (London Governance Discussion. such as CrisisCampLdn.
The tour bus will drive from the USA’s east coast to the west coast. The CCIWG also aims to create both an Opportunity Model and Operational Model that volunteers can use to find incomplete projects requiring attention and understand procedural standards for developing projects (Infrastructure/Plan.” collecting and filing “files. or relevant hashtags. application code. updating the CCIWG 2year roadmap that exists. contact information.
The CrisisCommons Infrastructure Working Group (CCIWG) has been tasked with developing a code-of-conduct. geospatial and visualization ninjas but we are also filled to the brim with super creative and smart folks who can lead teams. know usability. translate languages. n.d.
.d. This unique feature is expressed on the CrisisCommons homepage: “CrisisCampers are not only technical folks like coders. training materials. In order to better coordinate the efforts of volunteers. manage projects. n. CrisisCommons is also planning to “go on tour” during September 2011 (National Preparedness Month ) by “literally driving around the country in a tour bus… in order to raise awareness. While the camps work to solve the technical problems that are brought to their attention. III. public health officials. can write a research paper and can help us edit wikis” (CrisisCommons. Prutsalis. and developing podcasts for new members to the CCIWG.). n.d. Project Deployment
When a disaster hits.
b. hacking with members or CrisisCommons and CrisisCamps along the way (CrisisCommons. such as existing projects. The goals of this journey are to “support and train local emergency managers.). learn from the crisis experts…. the CrisisCommons Infrastructure Working Group (CCIWG) is searching for people willing to volunteer their time on an ongoing basis in exchange for an opportunity to use their technology specific skills. search the internet.” improving rapid-fire/on-demand workflow management for disaster tasks. Volunteer Management CrisisCommons is unique within the V&TC network as it has managed to attract people with backgrounds in technology as well as individuals with nontechnical expertise. CrisisCommons provides a forum where they can post and discuss critical data. such as marketing (M. July 17. collecting and filing “documents. host an open data scavenger hunt…. learn from the tech community…. 2011).). share information. work on problems important to the CrisisCommons community.d. inviting individuals from local communities to ride on the bus for any given distance. “gardening” the wiki. developing a 6 month CCIWG plan. and raise $1M of volunteer time” (CrisisCommons.37
organizational and collaborative tools is the monthly or yearly expenses associated with the services. n. programmers. educate and connect people about how technology – especially the Internet – can enhance disaster preparedness and response” (CrisisCommons. 2011). thereby joining the efforts of volunteers not necessarily near the location of the disaster. and community organizers…. 2011). personal communication.). and provide input to the future direction of the CCIWG (Infrastructure/Plan. individual CrisisCamps (such as CrisisCampNZ or CrisisCampLdn) form or reconvene.
CrisisCommons is one of the few V&TCs that has prioritized the collection of reflection material on past deployments. or reflections from team members on what strategies were successful and which strategies are in need of revision.
.38 After the disaster. the Commons is also used to post after-action reports.
August 3). Smith. The New York Times. (n.org/wiki/CrisisCommons _Charter Crowley. Elwood.nytimes. July).html GFDRR Labs.39
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