Disaster 2.0: UN OCHA releases report on future of information sharing in crisis

The emergence of crisiscamps and subsequent maturation of CrisisCommons into a platform for civic engagement were important developments in 2010. Hearing digital cries for help has never been more important. A year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a new report by a team at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative analyzes how the humanitarian, emerging volunteer and technical communities collaborated in the aftermath of the quake. The report recommends ways to improve coordination between these groups in future emergencies. There are 5 specific recommendations to address the considerable challenges inherent in coordinating crisis response:

  1. A neutral forum to surface areas of conflict or agreement between the volunteer/technical community and established humanitarian institutions
  2. An space for innovation where new tools and approaches can be experimented with before a crisis hits
  3. A deployable field team with the mandate to use the best practices and tools established by the community
  4. A research and development group to evaluate the effectiveness of tools and practices
  5. An operational interface that identifies procedures for collaboration before and during crises, including data standards for communication

Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies” was commissioned by the United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership in collaboration with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). You can find more discussion of the report in a series of posts on disaster relief 2.0 at UNDispatch.com, like this observation from Jen Ziemke:

…a substantial majority of members on the Crisis Mappers Network have held positions in formal disaster response, some for several decades. Volunteers in groups like the Standby Task Force include seasoned practitioners with the UNDP or UN Global Pulse. But what is really needed is a fundamental rethinking of who constitutes the “we” of disaster response, as well as dispensing with current conceptions of: “volunteers”, “crowds,” and “experts.” While distinctions can be endlessly debated, as humans, we are far more the same than we are different.

Whether it’s leveraging social media in a time of need or geospatial mapping, technology empowers us to help one another more than ever. This report offers needed insight about how to do it better.

Cisco CTO on telepresence and the use of tech in natural disasters

Last month, I interviewed Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior about technology, gov 2.0 and open government. In the excerpt below, we talked about on the use of telepresence in government – over telepresence – and the opportunities around teleworking.

I’m very much looking forward to her conversation with Tim O’Reilly at the Gov 2.0 Summit on private sector lessons that translate to the public sector next week. I’ll be posting more excerpts from our interview on Monday.

We also talked about the role of technology in natural disasters. An excerpt from that conversation is embedded below:

CrisisCommons and floods in Pakistan

What Warrior and I didn’t discuss then, with respect to the floods in Pakistan, is the CrisisCommons Marathon Weekend that begins today. It’s an international effort that spans the globe, from Canada to London to Bangkok to Sydney, leveraging the distributed efforts of concerned citizens and technology to provide aid in the massive disaster. For more information – and to help – consult the links below:

We will be working to assist our friends and partner organizations: OpenStreetMapSahana and Crowdmap (Ushahidi). Each individual city may also be working on tasks listed on the CrisisCommons wiki for pkfloods.

We’ll be working in a number of countries and timezones with staggered over three days. CrisisCamps in Canada and CrisisCamp Virtual will start on the evening of Friday, September 3, 2010. This is the same start time for CrisisCamp Sydney where the time will be Saturday, September 4, 2010 : 08:00 AEST. As we collaborate work across North America, we will run overnight and link to the CrisisCamp London team. The Canadian and Uk teams finish on Saturday, September 4, 2010 while the Sydney team will continue throughout Sunday, September 5, 2010.

Register for the Sydney, Australia CrisisCamp: Saturday, September 4, 2010: 08:00 AEST

Join CrisisCamp Bangkok for Saturday, September 4, 2010

Register for the Toronto, Canada CrisisCamp: Friday, September 3, 2010: 18:00 ET

Join Silicon Valley on Friday, September 3, 2010 5-10pm Pacific Time at 650 Castro, Mountain View

Register for the London, UK CrisisCamp: Saturday, September 4,2010: 10am GMT

Join us virtually:

Register to be a Virtual Crisis Camper