23

I'm currently in Bosnia, which has been hit with the worst flood in its history, together with Croatia and Serbia. Governments are completely unprepared, as is common in these parts. With some colleagues of mine, I'm trying to set up a website and mobile apps that the people struck with the disaster and the rescue services could use to coordinate.

What we need is an Android/iOS/Winphone application (or usable mobile site) and a website with a backing database which would allow everyone to easily enter information and retrieve it. Information like where people are located (gathered with GPS from mobile devices perhaps?), where the supplies like food, water and drugs are, and where people need them the most.

Time is critical, and we would prefer to just use any existing solution, with bugs, with problems, doesn't matter, as long as it is usable. In this situation, it's much more important to have a working solution fast, then to have a fantastic solution in 5 days.

  • You're going to need to be a bit more specific. – Seth May 19 '14 at 19:42
  • Please upvote this question, everyone. Or maybe this can be turned into a community Wiki (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740/…)? – Jan Doggen May 20 '14 at 8:53
  • I've never actually used it, and thus it isn't worthy of an answer, but the Humanitarian Toolbox is something that I think will do what you're after. – Undo May 21 '14 at 12:52
  • Arguably, it is quite unreasonable to expect mobile internet to be up during a significant disaster. – March Ho Jul 26 '15 at 4:04
6

I used to run such a tool during the Tohoku earthquake and got tens of thousands of people reporting their status. My experience is that such a tool is difficult to maintain and support, especially during busy times and amid electricity power cuts. So even though I am usually in favour of self-hosted solutions, here it makes more sense to rely on a solid external provider like... Google.

Google Person Finder aims to help with the first need you expressed.

Usage:

  • Post your status, or status of other persons
  • Search for your people
  • Media can see statistics

Pros:

  • Open source. So you can actually host it yourself if you really want
  • Translated in 40 languages, which is very important to reach most of the local population
  • Backed by Google, so presumably extremely reliable

Cons:

  • No smartphone app (but usable mobile site)

They have a demo here: http://google.org/personfinder/japan

Google has deployed various other tools in crisis situations, see their reports for details.

7

You need Ushahidi, website here. This was designed for this kind of work and has been used e.g in Haiti.

Quoting from the Wikipedia article:

"The organisation uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as "activist mapping"—the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events."

Here is the Wiki

There are toolkits to get you started - this looks like the fastest way to get up and running.

For more ideas Google Ushahidi implementation to see how it is implemented, how to get it set up.


Anyone having more specific knowledge/experience of setting this up efficienty, feel free to edit/add to my answer - Jan

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