National Invitational

Public Policy Challenge



School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University

ReliefMap

Team Members:
• Lakshmi Balachandran, MPA
• Jesper J. Frant, MPA
• Eric Smyth, Master of International Affairs
• Seisei Tatebe-Goddu, Master of International Affairs




RELIEFMAP
A 21st Century Approach to Emergency Response
Presented By:
Eric Smyth | Jesper Frant | Lakshmi Balachandran | Seisei Tatebe-Goddu
Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs
2013 National Invitational Public Policy Challenge
Fels Institute of Government | University of Pennsylvania
RELIEFMAP
1
Contents
Section 1: Executive Summary 2
Section 2: The Problem 3
Section 3: Policy Proposal 6
3.1 Legitimacy 6
3.2 Access 7
3.3 Flexibility and Inclusiveness 7
3.4 Privacy Protection 7
3.5 Accountability 7
3.6 Planning Process 7
3.7 ReliefMap in Action 8
3.8 Scope for Expansion 9
3.9 Assumptions 9
Section 4: Implementation 10
4.1 Planning and Design 10
4.2 Prototype Development 11
4.3 Pilot Launch 11
4.4 Launch 12
4.5 Monitoring and Evaluation 12
Section 5: Funding 13
5.1 Grants 13
5.2 Annual Funding 13
Section 6: Budget 14
6.1 First Year Budget 14
6.2 Detailed Operating Costs 14
6.3 Website Development Costs 14
6.4 Office Setup Costs 14
Appendices 15
Appendix A: Glossary 15
Appendix B: News Clippings 15
Appendix C: Technological Responses to Hurricane Sandy 16
Appendix D: Letter of Support 17
Appendix E: Advertising 18
Appendix F. Sample Interactions 19
We would like to thank Professor Ester Fuchs, Professor Sarah
Holloway, Professor Anne Nelson, and Reverend Stephen Harding for
their assistance in developing the ReliefMap proposal. The ReliefMap
project has its roots in the class New Media and Development
Communications.
RELIEFMAP
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Section 1: Executive Summary
The Problem
Despite being a relatively low-intensity storm, Hurricane Sandy was one of the most damaging in United States
history due to the accompany storm surge that inundated highly populated coastal areas. Moody’s Analytics
estimated the economic impact at $50 billion, with about $12 billion of that damage falling within the NYC
metro area.
The day after Sandy devastated the tri-state area, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo recognized the
likelihood that disasters—particularly those that are climate-related — would become more frequent and that
cities would need to find ways to respond. The challenges of dealing with a disaster are compounded by the
logistical challenges of matching people with needs to donated good and volunteers with appropriate skills or
equipment in the aftermath. New York-based charities had collected over $400 million for Sandy relief efforts,
but there is little evidence on where and how that money was disbursed. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Yahoo
News cited an expert as saying that unwanted donations constituted a “second disaster after the disaster.”
The implementation of the ReliefMap platform will provide a mechanism to seamlessly bridge the divide
between need and donation after a disaster.
Policy Proposal
ReliefMap is a technological platform that will allow citizens and disaster relief organizations (DROs) to request
relief needs ranging from food, drinking water, and blankets to volunteers and money during a disaster. These
needs are then accessible to donors – both individuals and DROs – to donate these items as per their capabilities.
We propose not only a technological solution to mapping needs and relief efforts, but also incorporates a
process for building such a platform that enables city administration to effectively engage stakeholders. For
the purposes of this proposal, we will refer to the case of New York City (NYC) and the lessons learned from
Hurricane Sandy, but we hope to create a platform that is relevant in both scale and application to other cities.
ReliefMap will contain five essential elements that were lacking in past solutions. The platform must: (1) have
legitimacy and broad public acceptance. To this purpose, we propose that ReliefMap be housed inside the
NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations, within NYC’s 311 system, the “main source of government information
and non-emergency services.” It will (2) be easily accessible, providing multiple means (including SMS, mobile
application, Internet, telephone hotline) to connect to the platform. ReliefMap will (3) consider the resources
and limitations of the realities on the ground, and provide flexibility to DROs to integrate the platform with
their existing processes. It will also (4) take into account the privacy of individuals and organizations; and (5)
have an accountability mechanism to help the city verify that organizations have responded to needs.
Implementation Plan
The implementation timeline for ReliefMap can be broadly divided into the following phases. In conversations
with city advisers and potential stakeholders, we have concluded that we could begin the process in September
2013, with the ability to develop a prototype by spring of 2014.

Sep 2013 – Feb 2014 Mar – Jul Jul – Sep Oct - Nov Ongoing
RELIEFMAP
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Section 1: Executive Summary
Planning & Design: A strong participatory Planning & Design process ensures that ReliefMap can address
user needs after a disaster, while also engaging them in the platform to promote ownership and uptake once it
launches. The planning process for NYC would need to include Local and Federal Government, including the
Mayor’s Office of Operations and FEMA’s Regional Office. The process must also incorporate meetings with
large and smaller Disaster Relief Organizations, one of whom is the Episcopal Diocese of New York, whose
recommendations and strong support the ReliefMap team has received. Focus groups and interviews with
individual donors and affected citizens from the several winter storms that struck NYC in the past year will
also be facilitated.
Prototype Development: Initial discussions have been used to develop a test prototype that is constantly
being improved to meet user needs. The prototype development will follow a typical software development
life cycle, with extensive system and user testing to ensure it is technically sound.
Pilot Launch: A pilot launch, planned for July 2014, will ensure that ReliefMap is equipped to handle mass
usage and will be accompanied by an end-to-end feedback process for all users of the platform.
Launch: ReliefMap is expected to be ready for a city-wide launch in NYC in October 2014, at the peak of
hurricane season. Marketing for the platform will be ongoing through the city government and will be ramped
up during hurricane season, with advertising on buses, subways, weather services, the local and national media,
as well as through community outreach. The run-up to hurricane season will also include targeted outreach
to, registration, and training of DROs and relevant personnel in the city. Outreach to individual donors at city,
state, and national levels will begin after the disaster occurs.
Monitoring & Evaluation: The ReliefMap platform will incorporate an ongoing monitoring process, as well as
evaluations of every deployment. Indicators on usage, including number of users and repeat users, process
evaluation on matching of requests and the quality of this matching, as well as program evaluation on the state
of disaster relief, will be used to evaluate the impact of the platform.
Finances
ReliefMap proposes that the City of New York take ownership of this process, as well as responsibility for
funding, building, piloting, and launching the technology platform. The total first year costs are estimated at
about $535,000, comprising of operating costs at a little over $500,000, office setup costs at nearly $15,000
and website development costs at $17,000.
RELIEFMAP
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Section 2: The Problem
Despite being a relatively low-intensity storm, Hurricane Sandy was one of the most damaging in United
States history due to the accompany storm surge that inundated highly populated coastal areas. The day after
Sandy devastated the tri-state area, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo recognized the likelihood that
disasters—particularly those that are climate-related—would become more frequent, and that cities would need
to find ways to respond.
1
Indeed, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate in their Fourth
Assessment Report (AR4) that the United States sustained over US$500 billion in insured and uninsured losses
from weather-related disasters between 1980 and 2005, and note that 80 percent of North Americans live in
urban areas.
2
The report also predicts that, across North America, cities will experience “more extreme heat
and, in some locations, rising sea levels and risk of storm surge, water scarcity, and changes in timing, frequency,
and severity of flooding.”
3
In the case of Hurricane Sandy, the effects were far-reaching. Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, West Virginia, and Tennessee
were all directly affected by snow, hurricane-strength winds, or flooding. Power outages affected people in 17
states, as far west as Michigan.
4
At the height of the storm, more than 8.1 million people were without power,
some of whom did not receive power for several weeks after the storm.
5
Moody’s Analytics estimated the
economic impact at $50 billion, with about $12 billion of that damage falling within the NYC metro area—one of
the worst disasters to ever hit the U.S.
6
The challenges of dealing with a disaster are compounded by the logistical challenges of matching people with
needs to donated good and volunteers with appropriate skills or equipment in the aftermath. In the wake of
Hurricane Sandy, Yahoo News cited an expert (see Appendix B) as saying that unwanted donations constituted
a “second disaster after the disaster.”
7
For these very reasons, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) requests that people not self-deploy but rather donate through an existing organization to ensure that
a need really exists before responding (see Appendix B).
As logical as FEMA’s guidance is, the need to help spurs well-intentioned people to create mechanisms
where they see a gap. Multiple frameworks pop up in an effort to match needs with services and goods,
sometimes causing more harm and confusion than good. In addition to a sudden plethora of mechanisms,
existing mechanisms flounder that were not intended to deal with disasters of such magnitude. In the wake of
Hurricane Sandy, Attorney General Schneiderman released figures showing that, as of mid-December 2012,
New York-based charities had collected $400 million for Sandy relief efforts.
8
Yet little evidence exists showing
where and how that money was disbursed. In other words, “people have been giving without finding out first
what a group’s capacity is to actually deliver services.”
9
The following table assesses a number of responses that emerged in response to Hurricane Sandy in November
and December 2012.
10
Each mechanism had its advantages and disadvantages. Certainly using crowds to map
recovery effort can be an effective way to connect survivors to those offering assistance. However, a more
coordinated response is needed.
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Section 2: The Problem
Accessibility
(multiple methods via SMS,
phone, internet, Android or
iPhone app)
Cost to user
(SMS, phone
call)
Involved existing
networks to fulfill
needs
DRO ability to
request goods
and services
Confidentiality/
privacy
Accountability/
feedback process
Episcopal
Diocese

N/A

Facebook

N/A

FEMA

N/A

Google

N/A

NeedMapper

New Jersey
Hotline

NYC Marathon

N/A

Occupy Sandy
Recovery

Red Cross

N/A

Team Rubicon

N/A


Figure 1: Analysis of a Sample Group of Organizations in Terms of Effectiveness of Post-Sandy Relief Efforts
Future attempts to crowd-source and map recovery efforts must take into account three critical observations.
First, communications networks are vulnerable to natural disasters, and, therefore, an effective recovery-
mapping tool should permit multiple means to connect to the system. By diversifying means of access, one
can minimize the vulnerability of the platform. SMS and browser-based mobile applications are a good place
to start.
Second, a functional platform must be more than a simple mobile or SMS platform; it must be a mechanism
that can take advantage of existing resources, match needs based on a consideration of DROs’ limitations, and
provide stronger monitoring, verification, and reporting. This will ensure that needs are filled in a timely and
effective manner.
Finally, maps should not make the contact information of those requesting aid public, and should include a
mechanism for assigning responsibility for requests and removing the requests from the map once it has been
filled. In doing so, the crowd-mapping tool will protect families from being overwhelmed with offers of assistance
and limit the ability of bad actors to cause mischief. Mapping tools must provide effective mechanisms that
close gaps in legitimacy, accessibility, inclusiveness, confidentiality, and accountability.
Notes
1. “Hurricane Sandy Shows We Need to Prepare for Climate Change, Cuomo and Bloomberg Say.” Huffington Post. Web. 31. Oct
2012.
2. IIPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth
Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der
Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 976pp. p. 338
3. Ibid, p. 620.
4. Webley, Kayla. “Hurricane Sandy By the Numbers: A Superstorm’s Statistics, One Month Later.” Time. Accessed March 11, 2013.
http://nation.time.com/2012/11/26/hurricane-sandy-one-month-later/.
5. Ibid.
6. Center for Disaster Philanthropy. “Hurricane Sandy.” Web. 11 Mar 2013. http://disasterphilanthropy.org/where/current-
disasters/hurricane-sandy/
7. “’Disaster After the Disaster’: Unwanted Donations.” Yahoo! News. Web. 24 Nov. 2012.
8. Goldberg, Eleanor. “Hurricane Sandy Donations May Not Be Going Entirely To Victims, Watchdog Says.” Huffington Post,
January 11, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/sandy-donations-money-spent_n_2457063.html.
9. Ibid.
10. Based on a paper by Jesper Frant, Mapping Sandy Relief Efforts: Matching needs with action, December 9 2012.
RELIEFMAP
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Section 3: Policy Proposal
ReliefMap is a technological platform that will allow citizens and disaster relief organizations (DROs) to request
relief needs ranging from food, drinking water, and blankets to volunteers and money during a disaster. These
needs are then accessible to donors – both individuals and DROs – to donate these items as per their capabil-
ities. We propose not only a technological solution to mapping needs and relief efforts, but also incorporate
a process for building such a platform that enables city administration to effectively engage stakeholders. The
implementation of the ReliefMap platform will provide a mechanism to seamlessly bridge the division between
need and donation.
There are few technological or cultural barriers to using crowd mapping as an effective tool to facilitate recov-
ery efforts in the United States. Many need-mapping efforts have come close to building a scalable solution,
but a few critical flaws have hindered their effectiveness and adoption. By applying lessons learned from past
efforts, ReliefMap can create a successful large-scale solution that will efficiently allocate resources and con-
nect donations to those in need after a natural disaster. For the purposes of this proposal, we will refer to the
case of New York City (NYC) and the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, but we hope to create a platform
that is relevant in both scale and application to other cities.
ReliefMap will contain five essential elements that were lacking in past solutions. The platform must: (1) have
legitimacy and broad public acceptance; (2) be easily accessible; (3) consider the resources and limitations of
the realities on the ground; (4) take into account the privacy of individuals and organizations; and (5) have an
accountability mechanism.
3.1 Legitimacy
In order to ensure that the platform has legitimacy and credibility among the various actors needed to make
it successful, we propose that ReliefMap be housed inside the city agency responsible for operations. A city
agency has the power and authority to convene relevant stakeholders for a credible planning process. In
the case of New York City, this is the Office of Operations, which is responsible for NYC’s 311 system, the
“main source of government information and non-emergency services.”
1
In the event of an emergency, the
first instinct of many citizens is to contact the city for help. However, during a disaster, the city’s resources
are usually focused on urgent relief and reconstruction efforts, and well-meaning citizens can overwhelm the
city with requests or offers to help. Building ReliefMap into the existing 311 system would create a mechanism
for government to delegate the responsibility of responding to less-urgent needs to DROs and other local
organizations, while providing a critical mass of users.
The only third-party crisis mapping solution that achieved broad acceptance following Hurricane Sandy was
the map sponsored by Google, which was created in close partnership with government. Occupy SMS, on the
other hand, did not partner with government and did not provide a mechanism to ensure the quality of the
volunteers that it connected to those in need. As a result, a week after Occupy SMS was launched, only 115
people were using the system to request and receive help.
2
RELIEFMAP
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Section 3: Policy Proposal
3.2 Access
ReliefMap should provide multiple means to connect to the platform (SMS, mobile application, Internet,
telephone hotline, etc.) to maximize the ability of individuals to use the system following a crisis. In the
aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it took weeks for telecommunications companies to reconnect service for some
of the hardest hit areas. Providing people with more ways of accessing the platform will ensure that the largest
possible number of people is able to connect to the system. Again, here we propose that integration with NYC’s
311 system would be beneficial in providing near-universal access. 311 already enables citizens to connect to the
service via text message, phone call, Skype, and Twitter. During a disaster when the 311 system is overburdened
by requests, an automated process could be enabled to route non-urgent requests for aid to ReliefMap.
3.3 Flexibility and Inclusiveness
Many organizations, whether faith-based organizations, municipalities, or DROs, already have local systems
in place to respond to a disaster. Taking advantage of these networks will be critical to ReliefMap’s success.
ReliefMap should vet existing organizations and automatically give qualifying organizations a higher level of
access to sensitive data such as contact information and location of people who have requested needs. While
it will be impossible to force these organizations to use ReliefMap, organizations will have access to a valuable
service—quality, up-to-date information about the needs that are being requested in their area of operation—
that will provide an incentive to use the system. The legitimacy provided by housing ReliefMap within a
government agency will provide an added incentive, reassuring organizations that there is a responsible actor
in charge of managing the platform.
3.4 Privacy Protection
ReliefMap should respect the privacy of those requesting aid by not making contact and location information
publicly available. There were significant privacy issues with some of the ad hoc platforms created after Hurricane
Sandy, such as Needmapper. While the map’s creators designed an excellent platform for mapping needs, they
failed to design aid delivery in such a way that the privacy of individuals was respected. By ensuring that only
organizations that have been vetted in advance are allowed to access contact and location information, and
providing mechanisms for assigning responsibility and removing completed requests from the map, ReliefMap
will avoid this potential pitfall. Again, housing ReliefMap within NYC’s 311 system, which already has a built-in
confidentiality and privacy mechanism, would be a major advantage.
3.5 Accountability
ReliefMap goes one step beyond simply mapping and matching needs to helping the city verify that
organizations have responded to needs. ReliefMap would facilitate verification of delivery using a double-
verification accountability system, which encourages DROs to take responsibility for delivering specific needs
and empowers individuals to track their request and notify the platform if their request has not been met.
However, the city must carefully manage expectations and ensure that accountability to those using the system
is not conflated with the city’s obligation to itself fulfilling all needs. ReliefMap is and should be treated as a
facilitative mechanism, not one that can itself take responsibility for all outcomes of a natural disaster. This
balancing act would require a realistic framework for assessing the time it will take to deliver requested needs.
3.6 Planning Process
Because of the complexity of the proposed system and the sensitivity of the information that would be collected
by ReliefMap, we recommend that the City of New York undertake a planning process headed by the Office of
Operations, which would convene key stakeholders, build the platform, and launch a pilot program.
Notes
1. “About NYC 311.” Web. 11 Mar 2013. http://www.nyc.gov/apps/311/about.htm
2. Strochlic, Nina. “Text In to Help Hurricane Sandy Victims.” The Daily Beast 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. <http://www.
thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/16/text-in-to-help-hurricane-sandy-victims.html>
RELIEFMAP
8
Section 3: Policy Proposal
3.7 ReliefMap in Action
Figure 2: ReliefMap in Action.
Figure 3: ReliefMap Disaster Management Lifecycle.
Annie's heat is
out in her
apartment. She
does not have
blankets to keep
her and her
children warm.
Annie text
messages 311 to
request help.
Her request is
routed to
ReliefMap.
Annie is asked
via automated
text messages to
supply
additional
information. Her
request is added
to ReliefMap.
Annie receives
confirmation
that her request
has been
entered into the
system and a
tracking
number.
Annie receives a
text message to
announce that a
DRO will deliver
blankets.
Annie receives a
final text
message, asking
her to verify that
the blankets
have indeed
been delivered.
A church near
Annie's apartment
has a stockpile of
blankets.
The church runs a
search on
ReliefMap and
decides to bring
Annie blankets
since she lives
nearby.
The church
confirms that they
intend to fulfill
Annie's request
and her request is
removed from
ReliefMap and
added to the
church's to-do list.
The church is
granted access to
Annie's location
and contact
information.
The church
contacts Annie
and sends a
volunteer to
deliver her
blankets.
The volunteer uses
her smartphone to
confirm delivery of
the blankets.
Disaster Victim
Disaster Relief Organization
-ReliefMap set up and ready to be
used.
-Outreach to DROs to be part of
network
- Outreach to community.
- Disaster occurs.
- Citizens and DROs input needs.
-DROs are able to view needs and
provide relief.
-Outreach to citizens in other parts of
the region/country on “fulfilling”
needs.
-ReliefMap facilitates individual
donations to DROs.
-Seek feedback from pilot users:
affected citizens, dros, and donors.
-Amend platform to prepare for next
pilot/launch
ReliefMap and Disaster
Management
AFTERMATH
(day/weeks)
1
1
SHORT TERM
RECOVERY
(weeks/months)
1
1
LONG-TERM
RECOVERY
(months/years)
1
1
1
1
PREPAREDNESS/
MITIGATION
RELIEFMAP
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Section 3: Policy Proposal
3.8 Scope for Expansion
We foresee several potential areas of expansion for the ReliefMap platform. First would be the possibility
of a public-private partnership between a city and a technology provider such as Google, which has already
mapped data on DROs during a crisis. This map could be modified to also provide data on DROs that are not
functioning during or after a crisis—either because they were themselves affected by the crisis or for other
reasons. This map could then be used to filter requests to ReliefMap in order to avoid overwhelming the
system: people with needs would be directed to the map to determine if an aid organization was within walking
distance and if it was functional. If so, ReliefMap would refer the person to that facility. If such a facility did not
exist or was not functional, ReliefMap would then input the individual’s request for assistance.
A second possibility is that the ReliefMap platform could be integrated with immediate emergency response
mechanisms to provide comprehensive service from the moment the crisis occurs. It could also integrate with
smart city monitoring platforms that are being built, such as the IBM platform in Brazil.
Finally, we anticipate that the United Nations would be interested in globally scaling the technology to apply
in disaster-prone hot spots.
3.9 Assumptions
The need for legitimacy and credibility, particularly in convening stakeholders, means that a city agency is the
best “owner” of such a project. However, we are prepared to launch this as a stand-alone software company
that will deliver the platform to cities under contract, noting that this is not our preferred framework.
The disaster is not so severe that communications networks are still working.
We will initially address less urgent recovery needs, not emergency response, which is highly specialized, has its
own system, and functions adequately in the aftermath of a natural disaster. We suggest that the city eventually
considers integrating ReliefMap with existing emergency response frameworks, but this is neither the initial
focus of ReliefMap nor a prerequisite for its success.
RELIEFMAP
10
Section 4: Implementation
The implementation timeline for ReliefMap can be broadly divided into the following phases. In conversations
with city advisers and potential stakeholders, we have concluded that we could begin the process in September
2013, with the ability to develop a prototype by spring of 2014, and a pilot launch during the summer of 2014—
just in time for hurricane season. The following sections will describe select key aspects of this implementation
process.
4.1 Planning and Design
A strong participatory Planning & Design process ensures that ReliefMap can address user needs after a
disaster, while also engaging them in the platform to promote ownership and uptake once it launches. This
process encompasses a Market and Competitor Analysis, ongoing and described in our previous section on
the problem, as well as consultative discussions with key stakeholders, and culminates in detailed design
specifications for the ReliefMap platform.
The Planning & Design process will be repeated in each city or region in which ReliefMap will be launched
to facilitate the participation of local users, integrate with local processes, and tailor the platform to local
circumstances.
Stakeholders
At each location, the following broad categories of stakeholders must be engaged during the planning process.
Interviews, meetings and focus groups with each category separately, interspersed with several group meetings,
will ensure a comprehensive planning process.
As mentioned previously, the adoption of the ReliefMap platform by city administration will ensure the platform’s
legitimacy and raise its profile among stakeholders. Preliminary outreach and discussions in NYC indicate a
strong, positive response to facilitating a platform that would match needs with relief during a disaster, and this
is expected to gather momentum with city backing. The following describes our proposed planning process
for NYC.
Local and Federal Government: The Mayor’s Office of Operations, which houses NYC’s ubiquitous 311 service,
will be the main driver of this process to ensure ReliefMap can supplement existing procedures and integrate
into the 311 service with ease. In addition, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and FEMA’s Regional
Office (Region II) will be engaged to facilitate their specific needs .
Disaster Relief Organizations: NYC has a strong network of DROs housed under an umbrella organization,
the New York Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The planning process must incorporate meetings
with larger organizations, including the New York Red Cross, The Salvation Army and New York Cares, as
well as medium- and small-ized community-based organizations. The ReliefMap team has already met multiple
times with the Episcopal Diocese of New York, active in NYC during disasters including Hurricane Sandy, to
understand local needs, and has received recommendations and a strong letter of support from them (See
Appendix D).

Sep 2013 – Feb 2014 Mar – Jul Jul – Sep Oct - Nov
Ongoing
RELIEFMAP
11
Section 4: Implementation
Individual donors: The past year has seen several winter storms strike New York City, with the most destructive
being Hurricane Sandy. Citizens across the city and state chose to donate their time, money, and goods to
recovery efforts, and focus groups with a cross-section of these donors will be facilitated for their inputs on a
user-friendly platform.
Affected citizens: The ReliefMap team will also reach out to citizens who were affected by Hurricane Sandy,
particularly to develop convenient access to the platform and a strong marketing strategy.
4.2 Prototype Development
The Planning & Design process will provide detailed design specifications to develop the platform. Initial
discussions have been used to develop a test prototype that is constantly being improved to meet user needs.
The prototype development will follow a typical software development life cycle, with extensive system and
user testing to ensure it is technically sound.
4.3 Pilot Launch
The Atlantic Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th . The ReliefMap platform will be
ready at the beginning of the 2014 season and expected to deployed for a pilot launch in NYC by the end
of July. Details of the pilot will be decided closer to an expected hurricane incident, and will be limited to a
smaller area in New York. The pilot will ensure that ReliefMap is equipped to handle mass usage and will be
accompanied by an end-to-end feedback process for all users of the platform.
I
m
p
o
r
t
a
n
c
e
Influence
Low Medium High
High Affected Citizens
Individual donors
Mayor’s Office of Emergency
Response
Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA)
311, Mayor’s Office of
Operations
Large Disaster Relief
Organizations
-New York Red Cross
-New York Cares
-The Salvation Army
Medium Other relief matching
platforms
-Google’s Hurricane Sandy
Crisis Map
-Needmapper
-AidMatrix
Medium and small sized
Disaster Relief Organizations
-Episcopal Diocese of New
York
-BonaResponds
Low
Figure 4: Stakeholder Map.
RELIEFMAP
12
Section 4. Implementation
4.5 Monitoring and Evaluation
The ReliefMap platform will incorporate an ongoing monitoring process during a deployment, as well as eval-
uations of every deployment.
Usage
The technical platform will collect data on users including – number of DROs, number of individual donors
and number of individual requests for relief. Importantly, the platform will also report on repeat users (partic-
ularly donors and requesters), to judge user-friendliness and likelihood of users returning to use the platform.
User satisfaction will also be judged based on immediate feedback ratings from individual donors after every
transaction.
Process Evaluation
The platform will additionally report information on number of requests made, number of requests matched
and number of requests unmatched. To evaluate whether needs are being adequately met, statistics on the
number of days it takes to match a need will also be analyzed.
Program Evaluation
The larger goal of the platform is to facilitate disaster relief and reduce waste in this process. This outcome
will be evaluated using government, media and independent reports commissioned after a disaster, and stud-
ied for improvements from previous iterations. ReliefMap will also interview and organize focus groups with
individual donors as well as the participating DROs to understand if the process was in fact simpler, and how
the platform can be improved.
4.4 Launch
After updating the platform following the pilot launch, ReliefMap is expected to be ready for a city-wide launch
in NYC in October 2014, at the peak of hurricane season. Marketing for the platform will be ongoing through 311,
NYC.gov, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Response. Communications
on how to request relief and donate through the platform will be ramped up during hurricane season, with
advertising on buses, subways, weather services, the local and national media, as well as through community
outreach. See Appendix E for mock-ups of marketing material.
The run-up to hurricane season will also include targeted outreach to, registration, and training of DROs and
relevant personnel in the city. It is expected that the involvement of DROs in the planning and testing process
will facilitate a smoother launch. Outreach to individual donors at city, state, and national levels will begin
after the disaster occurs. Hurricane season communications will also include FEMA’s Commercial Mobile Alert
System (CMAS) Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS), by adding ReliefMap
outreach information to these weather related alerts.

Disaster occurs
RELIEFMAP
13
Section 5: Funding
Funding for ReliefMap will come from a combination of grants used to fund initial development, and the New
York City budget —to fund continuing operations. The use of grant money to fund initial development will
reduce the risk to the city of New York and the ReliefMap project. Relying on grants will ensure that ReliefMap
has sufficient funding for system design and the development of a functional prototype. The City of New York
benefits from the creation of a solution for coordinating humanitarian aid without having to invest money in an
undeveloped platform.
5.1 Grant
ReliefMap proposes that the City of New York take ownership of this process, as well as responsibility for
funding, building, piloting, and launching the technology platform. The risk of relying on the city is that our
application may trigger a bidding process where established technology companies may seek to underbid the
ReliefMap proposal. Funding from the city may not be available until fiscal year 2014. However, this is still the
preferred funding mechanism, as the city provides legitimacy and credibility in the planning process that would
be difficult to duplicate using other means. Cities that are concerned by the increased risk of natural disasters,
such as New York, have an incentive to develop this process and technology in order to minimize damage to
their governance capacity and reputation, and are likely to take on such a project.
The primary alternative source of startup funding could be through a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter will
allow the startup costs to be crowdsourced by interested donors. Individuals may contribute as little as $1 or
up to the entire cost of the project. The grant application time for Kickstarter is significantly less than other
routes. The tradeoff is significantly more effort is required during the grant window to ensure donors are aware
of the project. There is a risk from using Kickstarter as all funds for the project must be raised within sixty
days or no money is provided. To mitigate this risk the ReliefMap team plans to simultaneously prepare an
application for a FEMA grant. However, the FEMA grant would delay implementation one year.
A secondary alternate source of grant funding, ReliefMap may apply for a FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM)
Grant. The PDM grant may be used in conjunction with funding from either the City of New York or Kickstarter.
PDM grants provide funds to, inter alia, cities “for hazard mitigation planning and the implementation of
mitigation projects prior to a disaster event.” A PDM grant may cover up to $800,000 but may not pay more
than 75 percent of the eligible costs. There is some risk from relying on a FEMA PDM grant as the primary
source of startup funding. FEMA may determine that the ReliefMap project does not reduce risk to disaster
affected communities—a key criteria for PDM grants.
Possible Grant Alternatives
Microsoft Corporation: Corporate Citizenship
Motorola Solutions Foundation
Nationwide Insurance Foundation
State Farm
5.2 Annual Funding
Once the City of New York has adopted the ReliefMap platform, funding will need to be provided on an annual
basis to continue the project. Although there is potentially room for budget savings in wage changes and use of
existing administrative resources, the estimated annual cost for ReliefMap is roughly 12 percent of the budget
for the New York City Office of Emergency Management. There is some risk that due to fiscal constraints
ReliefMap would be cut in the event of another recession.
RELIEFMAP
14
Section 6: Budget
6.1 First Year Budget
Item Cost
Website Development $17,100
Office Setup $13,300
Staffing $447,200
Service Hosting $22,800
Administrative $35,400
Total $535,800
6.2 Detailed Operating Costs
Item Rate Period Annual Cost
Staffing
Project Manager $55 Hour $114,400
Director of Communications $25 Hour $52,000
Chief Technology Officer $40 Hour $83,200
Director of Operations $25 Hour $52,000
Director of Strategic Partnerships $25 Hour $52,000
Director of Personnel $25 Hour $52,000
Website Administrator $20 Hour $41,600
Service Hosting
Servers $650 Month $7,800
Storage $500 Month $6,000
Network $150 Month $1,800
Administration $600 Month $7,200
Administrative Costs
Office Rent $2,500 Month $30,000
Utilities $350 Month $4,200
Office Supplies $100 Month $1,200
Total $505,400
6.3 Website Development Costs
Item Hours Rate Cost
Site Development 67 $100 $6,700
Content Development 48 $100 $4,800
Mobile App Development 24 $100 $2,400
Search Engine Optimization 8 $100 $800
Social Media Integration 4 $100 $400
Backend Development 20 $100 $2,000
Total 171 $17,100
6.4 Office Setup Costs
Item Cost
Laptops $4,200
Office Furniture $3,500
Deposits & Installation $5,400
Office Supplies $200
Total $13,300
RELIEFMAP
15
Appendix A: Glossary
AR4 - IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report—released in 2007—on climate change.
Commercial Mobile Alert System - CMAS allows public safety authorities to send geographically targeted,
text-like Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to the public. WEAs will relay Presidential, AMBER, and Imminent
Threat alerts to mobile phones using cell broadcast technology that will not get backlogged during times of
emergency when wireless voice and data services are highly congested.
DRO - Disaster Relief Organization
FEMA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency lead the federal government’s effort to provide assistance
and support to states affected by disasters, including for Hurricane Sandy since October 2012.
IPCC - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the
assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and
the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the
current state of knowledge in climate change and its impacts.
ReliefMap - Online platform that maps individual and organizational needs following a disaster and facilitates
the efficient response to those needs.
WEA - A Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) is a special text messages that uses a unique ring tone and vibration
to signal that an alert has arrived. The unique vibration, which distinguishes the alert from a regular text
message, is particularly helpful to people with hearing or vision-related disabilities. Alerts will automatically
“pop up” on the mobile device screen and will be limited to 90 characters.
Appendix B: News Clippings
Figure 5: FEMA website for Hurricane Sandy
Donations.
1
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) — Superstorm
Sandy has brought out generosity far and wide
in the biggest U.S. relief eort for the American
Red Cross and other groups since Hurricane
Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast in 2005.
And while the response is heartwarming, some
of that is also helping create a “second disaster
aer the disaster,” in the words of one expert.
It’s a common quandary aer natural disasters displace lots of people and destroy homes
and possessions. Relief groups need very specic things, along with cash and organization.
Instead, they get vases and vacuum cleaners, or interference from well-intentioned
volunteers who think they’re helping but are just hindering eorts.
“It’s really been a lot of stu really aecting the disaster site,” said James McGowan, the
associate director of partnerships at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in
Disaster, who made the “second disaster” analogy. “ey’re just showing up and they’re
not coordinated with the agencies.”
Ad hoc relief groups need to make sure they are taking in only items that are requested
and can be distributed. Money is the best because organizations don’t have to pay to
move it and can tailor spending to changing needs, McGowan said. Transporting and
distributing a simple donated can of food can be $15 to $25.
Figure 6: Associated Press article describing the
problem of unwanted donations.
2
Notes
1. “Hurricane Sandy: Donate and Volunteer Responsibly.” Web. 10 Mar. 2013. <http://www.fema.gov/hurricane-sandy-donate-and-
volunteer>.
2. “‘Disaster After the Disaster’: Unwanted Donations.” AP. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <http://news.yahoo.com/disaster-disaster-
unwanted-donations-195133149.html>.
RELIEFMAP
16
Appendix C: Technological Responses to Hurricane Sandy
Facebook
Multiple pages attempted to help and/or popped up in response to the crisis. On the FDNY Incidents Facebook page,
the Point Breeze Volunteer Firefighters, among other groups, simply posted a list of needed items. Another page, “Adopt
a family, Hurricane Sandy,” took a different approach: they opted to identify families in need and attempted to directly
connect them to individuals or families who wished to “adopt” them. However, Facebook communications and therefore
requests are difficult to aggregate, deliveries are thus equally difficult to monitor and verify, and requests that have been
posted and filled may not be deleted from the system, creating a danger of duplication.
Google
Google’s Superstorm Sandy Crisis Map is an example of a successful application. It offered a range of valuable information
to tristate area residents, including gas stations with available gas, shelters and recovery centers, FEMA remote-sensed
damage assessments, and even location-specific emergency alerts based on tweets by emergency agencies. The Google
map seeks to be a one-stop-shop for all available recovery maps, aggregating them into one location. However, the
Google map did not attempt to solve the accountability and verification issues of delivery.
Needmapper
NeedMapper enabled storm victims to publicly post their contact information along with their need on a map, trusting
that the delivery of the need would be taken care of by do-gooders. Once the need is filled, users can text the word
“done” to the system in order to remove their request. Unfortunately, the people who used NeedMapper got more than
they bargained for and were subsequently overwhelmed by phone calls from people who wished to help.[1]
New Jersey Hotline
The government of New Jersey implemented a hotline designed to inform potential donors of what supplies are most
needed and preempt donations that would cause more trouble than they would solve. New Jersey’s solution may have
helped to address the problem of unwanted donations, but it relied on existing distribution networks that are sometimes
insufficient for meeting individual needs of households or communities.
NYC Marathon
After the New York Marathon was canceled, nearly 1,300 marathon runners chose to channel their energy into helping
with relief efforts, packing backpacks full of donated supplies and literally running them to the aid of hurricane victims on
Staten Island. Despite their good intentions, the marathon runners did not know who the supplies should be delivered
to and instead ran door-to-door hoping that the needs of the resident matched what they happened to be carrying in
their backpacks.
Occupy Sandy Recovery
Occupy Sandy Recovery deployed mapping tools to aid with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. The primary Occupy
Sandy Recovery map focused on informing individuals about drop-off locations for supplies and other volunteer
opportunities sponsored by other organizations, but Occupy Sandy developed a second map called “Occupy SMS,”
which was designed to facilitate “mutual aid” by connecting people to those offering assistance in a specific area. The
application utilized an existing platform called Mobile Commons, which uses SMS to take requests for donations or
assistance and matches those requests with volunteers in areas affected by the hurricane. The service is specifically
intended to fulfill individual household needs, as opposed to the needs of aid distribution centers. The privacy concern
was addressed through an additional layer, where potential volunteers needed to text their intention to help in order to
receive the specific address where their assistance should be delivered. However, accountability, working with existing
organizations to avoid duplication of efforts, legitimacy and credibility, and tracking requests still remained problems with
this system.
RELIEFMAP
17
The Reverend Stephen Harding
1047 Amsterdam Avenue New York, New York 10025
sharding@mindspring.com 917 301-0267
Mr. Jesper Frant
New Media Task Force
School of International and Public Affairs
Columbia University
New York, New York 10027
March 9, 2013
Dear Mr. Frant:
Thank you for your work in developing a platform that will help relief agencies identify needs in the aftermath
of a disaster and when those needs are met.
Recently, in the aftermath stage of Superstorm Sandy, the Diocese was faced with power outages in upstate
New York, fooding and lack oI power below 34
th
Street in Manhattan, and fooding and signifcant property
damage in Staten Island. It would have been helpIul to me to have had a reliable system that identifed the
needs in particular areas, resources that could meet those needs, and that had the means to indicate when a need
had been flled.
I wish you all the best in your competition next weekend and I look forward to our continuing conversations
about disaster response.
All my best,
Stephen+
The Reverend Stephen Harding
Disaster Response Coordinator
The Episcopal Diocese of New York
Appendix D: Letter of Support
RELIEFMAP
18
Figure 7: Integrating ReliefMap into the New York City 311 page for Hurricane Sandy Disaster Assistance.
New York ReliefMap
Visit reliefmap.nyc.gov
Call 311
Text “request” to 735433
311
NYC
When disaster strikes, relief is a request away.
CLOTHES | DIAPERS | FOOTWEAR
FOOD | WATER | SHELTER | BEDDING
BABY FOOD | BATTERIES | PET FOOD
FLASHLIGHTS | CLEANING SUPPLIES
TOILETRIES | DISHES | TARPS | ...
Want to help? Visit reliefmap.nyc.gov to make a donation.
Figure 8: Subway Car Advertisement.
Appendix E: Advertising
Figure 9: Sample Commercial Mobile
Alert System (CMAS) Wireless Emer-
gency Alert Message (WEA) informing
affected population of ReliefMap.
RELIEFMAP
19
Appendix F: Sample Interactions
St Mary’s Most Holy Trinity Church
Brooklyn, NY 11206
Needs: generator, food,
blankets, cots, water
More info | Directions | Donate
Figure 10:
Affected
citizen inputs
relief needs by
category using the
reliefmap.nyc.gov
web form.
Figure 11:
Submitted needs
are mapped by
location. Donors
are able to view
needs requests.
Figure 12:
Individual
donates money
or goods to a
participating
disaster relief
organization.

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