By Shadrock Roberts, Director, Resilience Network Initiative We understand the need to help; to act; to get involved when disaster strikes. It’s part of our history and why we create the tools that we do. We love technology because it allows us, as individuals, to play an active role in response efforts. However, we have learned from previous engagements that the most impact happens when we coordinate and help to make information flow more efficiently between responding efforts to major events. Upon hearing news of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Kathmandu valley, we immediately began tracking the activities of our colleagues, many of whom are taking a lead in coordinating volunteer efforts. As Ushahidi staff, we will be working with existing volunteer and technical organizations and call on our community to join us in doing the same. Listed below are known efforts from our colleagues.

Efforts around Information, Social Media, & Reporting

  • Standby Task Force (SBTF) organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy in crises. They have activated for the Nepal response to:
    • Search social media for reports of damage and requests for assistance; process and map this information; and make it available to responding agencies.
    • Help create a database of information about which agencies are doing what and where (often referred to as “3Ws”) and compile any other data to support on-the-ground response efforts.
    • For information about how to volunteer with SBTF see their website. Follow them on Twitter @SBTaskForce.

Efforts around Mapping & Geographic Information

Understanding How Formal & Volunteer Organizations Work

The unprecedented response of online volunteers during the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti introduced new processes, tools, and actors to the humanitarian landscape but also brought new challenges: chiefly among them being coordination of information and efforts. To respond to this, the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) was established to act as an interface between formal, professional humanitarian organizations and informal yet skilled-and-agile volunteer & technical networks. They have produced two valuable documents to help different communities in disaster response to better understand each other and improve their coordination for maximum benefit to all. (Follow them on Twitter @Digihums.)