Techies Helping Flood Victims

Recent disaster relief efforts involve not only the traditional, on-site help of responders and volunteers, but also remote groups of tech-savvy people.

In an article on the BBC website, Jamillah Knowles says Crisis Commons is one such organization that used new technologies, such as texting and interactive mapping, to help with this year’s Haiti earthquake relief effort. “For instance, it has helped beef up the search capacity of the Open Street Map project,” says the article.

Open Street Map is a project that aims to become a world map that anyone and everyone can contribute to. Following January’s earthquake in Haiti, an Open Street Map of capital city Port Au Prince “was so comprehensive that urban search and rescue teams on the ground started to download it as it suited their needs so well,” Knowles writes. The map allowed volunteers to identify hospitals, roads, or damaged buildings, the kind of information that first responders on the ground find invaluable.

Crisis Commons also helped out by finding a whole global network of Creole-speaking people to help communicate with Haitians during the crisis. And their “Mission 4636” project allowed people to submit requests for emergency aid and report their location simply by sending a text message to 4636.

The recent floods in Pakistan have generated requests for people to translate for Pakistan, via Crisis Commons and Open Street Map. Meanwhile, short-term projects known as Crisis Camps have allowed Crisis Commons to help provide developers for the Sahana disaster management system, Drupal development for the Disaster Accountability Project, and has helped locate information and translate messages, says the article.

To read the BBC article click here: