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Crowdsourcing emergency response Pt. 3 - Crowdsourcing in Action

January 2011: This is the last post in a three-part series focusing on crowdsourcing in relation to emergency response during a crisis. The idea of accruing large amounts of data from the public during an emergency, or sending data out to be crunched by the masses, is at the heart of this actionable information and situational awareness relationship: from crisis mapping to handling the incredible amount of data during an emergency.

Crowdsourcing emergency response Pt. 2 - Crisis Mapping and Crowdsource Response Organzations

January 2011; In the previous post, crowdsourcing was shown as a way of collecting, analyzing and disseminating information. The challenge of crunching huge amounts data in real time from various media has always presented a problem for emergency response personnel, but with crowdsourcing, information processing has become much easier, actionable and faster. Taking that information and overlaying it onto real-time mapping is the purview of crisis mapping, an emerging emergency response discipline. And there are organizations who use crisis mapping as their primary focus for humanitarian aid.

Crowdsourcing emergency response Pt. 1

January 2011: One of the largest hurdles facing emergency responders is how to handle the amount of real-time information during a crisis. In order to get a clear picture of what is happening right after an earthquake, during a hurricane, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, or before a flood hits, emergency response personnel and officials are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing as a way to digest large amounts of data and turn that data into actionable intelligence. Through social networking, text messaging and video crowdsourcing allows for multimedia information to be amalgamated and synthesized.

     
 
Phase I: Communications Uplinks

Many populations in remote areas are without dependable communications to support humanitarian on-site programs, or distance contact with remote supporters. LFH partners will develop an easily installed and operated robust communications core utilizing a satellite uplink to facilitate telemedicine, educational, commerical and artistic programs.

Phase II: Community Infrastructure

LFH partners will contribute their expertise, wealth and capabilities to develop micro-community centers that include vocational schools, arts/cultural centers, medical clinics built around LFH communications centers. Working with private sector partners and NGOs, LFH will help finance infrastrucure and support on-going partnerships to create markets for art and music, goods, training and other vital connections.

Phase III: Build-Out

Each project undertaken by LFH will anticipate a build-out stage, where private sector partners can build and sell homes, shops and other commercially attractive enterprises that use sustainable building materials and create jobs for the local population. LFH arranges investment insurance, both government and private, to make the investment attractive to potential partners. LFH will also help create locally governed credit cooperative to administer the titling, lending and administration of land/home sales including Sharia-compliant models.

 
Crowdsourcing emergency response Pt. 3 - Crowdsourcing in Action
| 01.13.2011 | 13:57:5924693 |

January 2011: This is the last post in a three-part series focusing on crowdsourcing in relation to emergency response during a crisis. The idea of accruing large amounts of data from the public during an emergency, or sending data out to be crunched by the masses, is at the heart of this actionable information and situational awareness relationship: from crisis mapping to handling the incredible amount of data during an emergency.

Kim Stephens in iDisaster wrote a long piece on the anniversary of the Haitian earthquake about the lessens-learned which can be applied in the United States. Citing five different articles, Stephens wrote the pieces "relay interesting take-aways from the response, particularly with regard to the effectiveness to use new and emerging technologies to aggregate, sort and analyze information coming directly from the affected population via text messages and social media."

The five essays are: Viral Volunteer for Haiti: How Social Media is changing the face of crisis response, New Media and Humanitarian Relief: Lessons from Haiti, Peacebuilding in the Information Age: Sifting Hype from Reality, Unprecedented Role of SMS in Disaster Response: Learning from Haiti, and If All you have is Hammer: How Useful is Humanitarian Crowdsourcing?.

Of the five essays, the final article by Paul Currion in MobileActive.org, is more critical of crowdsourcing as a successful method of response. Citing the mapping technology Ushahidi, Currion wrote that measuring the success of crowdsourcing technology would be difficult. Furthermore, finding a benchmark to which one could measure success would be as equally as hard. Ultimately Currion asks whether the technology applying crowdsourcing "had a positive impact in helping communities affected by disaster. ... Perhaps the best we can do is ask a simple question: if the system worked exactly as promised, what added value would it deliver?"

At iRevolution, Patrick Meier wrote of the major snowstorms to hit the New York City area: "Imagine how many ambulances could have been dug out if the crowd were better connected to swarm the response. Recall the example in Estonia where volunteers organized online to start a mass garbage cleanup campaign. Some 50,000 all showed up on one day and collected over 10,000 tonnes of garbage."

Meier continued, "there's a lot that disaster affected populations can (and already do) to help each other out in times of crisis. What may help is to combine the crowdsourcing of crisis information with what I call crowdfeeding in order to create an efficient market place for crowdsourcing response. By crowdfeeding, I mean taking crowdsourced information and feeding it right back to the crowd. Surely they need that information as much if not more than external, paid responders who won't get to scene for hours or days."

The "key question" Currion wrote, is to ask "whether technology can improve information flow in humanitarian response. The answer is that it absolutely can, and that's exactly what many people, including this author, have been working on for the last 10 years. However, it is a fallacy to think that if they quantity of information increases, the quality of information increases as well. This is pretty obviously false, and, in fact, the reverse might be true. ... Those working in emergency response - official or unofficial, paid or unpaid, community-based or institution-based, governmental or non-governmental - don't need more information, then need better information. Specifically, they need clearly defined information which can help them make critical decisions in mounting their programmes in order to save lives and restore livelihoods."

Finally, Anahi Ayala Iacucci wrote on her Diary of a Crisis Mapper that with using technology such as open source software for crowdsourcing information for emergency response there is an increased focus on the importance of the technology but that it not always means an increase in efficacy. Iacucci wrote that crowdsourcing technologies, though important and potentially very useful, only make up 10 percent of the overall work which needs to be done. Many times people will focus too much on the technology instead of seeing it as a means to an end.

 
     

 

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