Recovery 2.0: A call to convene

Let’s be honest: The web, too, was not fully prepared for the disaster of Katrina. If we’d truly learned the lessons of the tsunami and even 9/11, there was more we could have done to be ready to help.

I would like to see us convene a meeting to bring together the best of the web — software, hardware, infrastructure, media, money — to start to gather around needs and solutions. Maybe these should be a series of Meetups. Or why not convene a session around Web 2.0?

Call this Recovery 2.0.

The goal is to be ready — God help us — for the next disaster so people can better use the internet — via any device — to better:
1. share information,
2. report and act on calls for help,
3. coordinate relief,
4. connect the missing,
5. provide connections for such necessities as housing and jobs,
6. match charitable assets to needs,
7. get people connected to this and the world sooner.

There are many, many wonderful things happening, but they are happening — as is the want of the distributed web — everywhere: See the more-than-50 places where the missing from Katrina can be found and more are being built as we read. I just heard anchors on Fox start to read the names and descriptions of the missing but as good-hearted as that may be, with unknown thousands missing, it is frightfully inefficient. But Dave Winer points us to efforts to create an open standard for a People Finder XML structure, which we need. And we need better ways to make all this discoverable and searchable.

I’ll also say a lot about jobs and relocation in another below, for I believe that is a most urgent need for the Katrina survivors.

There are many other ways the web could be optimized to bring help where it is needed. And there are many other people who know much more about this than I do. And so I hope we find a way to come together for some discussion, a clear agenda, and then a lot of action.

Look at the example of Global Voices: That is the first time I’ve seen a conference turn into something real so quickly because it has good leadership. Let’s do likewise with Disaster 2.0.

For discussion:

INFORMATION: How can we use our tools to both gather and share information more effectively?

How can we use not just the web and the internet but also SMS and voice phones and other means to gather news both broadly and very locally? How can we organize it? How can we make it discoverable and searchable? How do we share it across various media?

How do we capture the intelligence of authorities, experts, and people living through the event? That could be in wikis with how-tos (e.g., escape plans) and with current information (e.g., who has certain supplies). That can be data brought together in a centralized manner, for example in data bases, and in a decentralized manner, for example with microformats.

With RSS and aggregators, how do we better feed current, dynamic information — news, alerts, and warnings, broad and targeted — in many media? How do we use tags and microformats to label information so it can be found via search? How do we teach people to do this?

How do we use OPML to maintain lists of resources, needs, and so on?

How do we use searc-engine optimization to get people to the information they need? (Note that my colleagues at About put up a separate, SEO’ed page on the lists of lists of the missing just so people could find the lists to then find each other.)

How do we distribute information by new means: text-to-speech-to-phones and SMS for those who cannot get online… voicemail… educating local media and authorities about online resources and communication so they can share information and needs…?

CONNECTIONS: This is the big one. There are so many ways that the internet could be used to make connections — from the missing, the homeless, the jobless to those who can help — but as we see in the example of the lists of the missing and the safe, this is where the distributed nature of the web can work against making connections. One solution is, of course, to rally around one repository per need — e.g., the Red Cross for every case of the missing — but the truth is that people will also go where they have a community; look at the missing boards at Nola.com and WWL TV in New Orleans.

So the better solution is to find a way to make these disparate, distributed pools of data (1) findable, (2) scrapable, and (3) searchable. How do we do that: better search, tags, microformats, manual effort?

This is necessary for:
* Helping family and friends find the missing.
* Connecting people in need with aid — e.g., MoveOn‘s and Craiglist‘s housing boards.
* Connecting people with jobs (again, more on that below).
* Connecting people with government information and services.

COORDINATION: People should be able to send up an alert of a need and those who can answer that need should be able to let others know that they are meeting it. I got an email (from someone who didn’t want his name used) suggesting open-source disaster coordination and management:

For instance the local and federal gov’t can make available all information they have before them regarding the levees (technical drawings, visuals, CAD drawings, assessments) and the entire world community in particular university researchers can peruse the same available data and contribute ideas and solutions. Likewise, the food, etc needs can be coordinated in a similar way. All charities can reference a single open source resource to find out what the needs are, the conditions on the ground and where to deliver. All of this can be a real-time WiKi. Why does the relief effort need to be closed protocol and proprietary. Instead of critiquing the elected officials, people can contribute solutions. Also, why don’t we have WiMax telephones that can quickly be deployed and work like walkie talkies for first responders. Open source government, coordination and management has potential and should be explored further: now’s the time.

It’s a new way to think of recovery, which still must be managed but which can be managed openly. What are the tools needed to do that? Yes, wikis. But what about infrastructure for authority, identity, and accountability so that a need is met by the right party? What about data entry and recovery from multiple media (e.g., phones)?

CONNECTIVITY: And, of course, all this is all worth less if you can’t get online or get connected somehow. See this effort to get 40 connected computers for the thousands in the Astrodome. See also this story about tech companies bringing machines and connectivity to the survivors.

Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., SBC Communications Inc., Dell Inc. and others are working with the Red Cross to build voice and data communications at hundreds of evacuation shelters, and link them together.

The equipment – including laptop computers and wireless access points – will help the relief agency track evacuees as well as help them find emergency funds and track lost relatives, said Intel spokeswoman Jennifer Greeson.

How can we get people in need connected to all the functionality and information above? Should more of us volunteer to go to shelters with our machines? How can we install wifi quickly?

How can volunteers do these tasks for people who aren’t online? Should there be some great virtual Skype phoneroom of volunteers to enter and retrieve data for people?

: Those are just my thoughts and the buckets I put them in. Others are working hard on all aspects of this with far more knowledge than I have. My suggestion is only that we need to bring together these people to at least coordinate standards and goals. I wish I knew how to do that. But I’d suggest that a first step is to meet and agree.

Just a few of the many people I know of who are working on various aspects of these opportunities: Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Kerry Dupont, Truth Laid Bear, Staci Kramer, Britt Blaser, Ethan Zuckerman, David Geilhufe, Andrew Rasiej (see “the internet is our emergency broadcast network”), Elizabeth Osder (of Yahoo), Donovan Janus (see TheKatrinaPortal), Hugh MacLeod, Craig Newmark, Alan Gutierrez (see ThinkNola), see the PeopleFinder volunteer page, About.com (where — full disclosure — I consult) and all the entities listed there… and so many more.

I just saw that Truth Laid Bear started a mailing list for people to share information on Katrina projects.

Who else? What else? How else?

: Hear Staci Kramer reacting to a post by Evelyn Rodriquez, who survived and wrote about the tsunami. Says Evelyn:

In an emergency, think: Cheap. Simple. Ubiquitous.

Perhaps cellphone SMS messages that go directly to a central wiki that is hosted by an large easy-to-remember-even-if-I-never-imagined-I-would-be-in-a-major-disaster organization whether it is Red Cross or Google?

What would have been helpful in the tsunami was a central phone number everyone has memorized to call in case of emergencies.

Says Staci:

These were lessons that should have been learned from the tsunami and before that from 9/11 and other times of crisis. We can’t change the events of the last week but if we do not learn from them and change the future, shame on us.

Our goal should be that come the next crisis, we are ready to help in ways never before possible.

: This is about more than just technology and disasters. This is about technology and society, about empowering the people to run their lives and about how we in the web community can come together to help do that.

Dave Winer wrote this yesterday as I was working on this post:

Watching Larry King, seeing how helpless people are at finding out the fate of family members, it’s pitiful that we information technologists have not marshalled the systems to distribute information about survivors of the aftermath of Katrina. Following up on Doc Searls’s War On Error concept… we ought to solve this problem as quickly as we can for Katrina and then deploy systems that make this work much better for future disasters. It’s 2005, we have mastered the technology, now let’s deploy it, with the intent of competence and success.

And the next day, Dave points to the People Finder spec referenced above. That’s action. That’s leadership. And that’s what this is really about.

As Doc said in his War on Error post that inspired much of what both Dave and I are saying here:

When the blaming stops and the fixing truly begins, we’ll need more than our government organizations to step forward. As citizens, and as groups of citizens, will need to do what government simply can’t do.

Yes, we need bureaucracies. But bureaucracies can’t imagine anything. Including predictable acts of God.

People, on the other hand, can.

In the War on Error, people will need to take the lead. Governments will need to follow or get out of the way.

There’s our charge.

: I just emailed John Battelle, who’s running Web 2.0. He said he’d try to find space and time for a meeting. Who’s there? Who thinks this is a good idea? What have I missed? Who wants to meet? Who wants to act?

LATER : I got email from someone saying that organization is an issue. Yes, it always is. Maybe what I really want is a wiki so everyone can know what everyone else is working on.

: MORE: Doc Searls has a great list of great ideas for taking action. Some of those relevant to this discussion:
* People Finder Format, the Katrina PeopleFinder Project (and more on the same).
* Instructive lessons in the Wall Street Journal from the 9/11 Report from Dan Henninger.
* Peggy Noonan on leaving open military bases (written just pre-Katrina). Her points make sense in a disaster recovery (rather than just post-terror) context….
* The left hand column on the Technorati’s Katrina page. Includes resources and first person reports, among other nuggets.
* WeblogsWorkfor small towns. From the people who bring you the Slidell Hurricane Damage Blog. Along with Seeking People and the Hurricane Katrina Help Page (a wiki).
* “A brilliant idea”from Stuart Henshall.
* Think New Orleans has a pile of interesting and useful links….
* What might Google do?
* safe.millennium.berkeley.edu. Lots of missing/found info and links….

: LATER STILL: Mark Cuban has lots of suggestions.

: And another great idea: ContactLovedOnes.org, using voicemail and phone numbers. [via Om]

: Even Verizon is trying to make better use of 411 to connect survivors to the information they need.

: Just registered Recovery2.com and Recovery2.org.

: Fred Wilson says we don’t need a conference. No, of course, we don’t. What we need is a way for people to share ideas, needs, work, and especially standards and contact so that effort can come together when it should. Face-to-face meetings are merely a way to add to the discussion that should occur online.

Someone in the comments looked at this is one big system, impossible to build. I said that’s 1.0 thinking. This is about people doing what they do in a distributed way but just trying to get them to swarm together around standards, links, ideas, and so on. That’s 2.0.

: TUESDAY UPDATE: NZ Bear has the start of a list of projects underway.

Someone has volunteered to start a wiki for this and we’ll let you know as soon as there’s something to let you know.

: TUESDAY P.M. UPDATE: Before giving a very detailed timeline and list of lessons learned from the Peoplefinder project, Ethan Zuckerman says:

…I think we’re probably at Recovery 0.2a in software terms rather than 2.0 – we’re a long way away from a 1.0 response from the web community that we could all be happy with. I hope folks will take time to document the work they did to help out with Katrina, and that we’ll keep developing and refining these tools after the immediate need has passed.

  • http://www.geise.com/index.php/GD-Linksville/Items/ PXLated

    Jeff…Good post…lots of links/reading to do…thanks!!!

  • Liam

    I am a lawyer thing I heard on the news was that a lot of people would struggle to get on because they had lost documents and papers. Perhaps a lawyer certified/backed, web based – pdf/image – storage scheme might be of use?

  • http://divedi.blogspot.com/ Dimitar Vesselinov

    A Brilliant Idea for Helping Katrina Victims

    “Stuart Henshall at Skype Journal has a brilliant idea for helping Katrina victims put their lives back together through restored communications. You can read it here and a follow up here.

    Stuart’s idea is that Bell South ought to immediately virtualize all the nonworking phone numbers in the stricken area. VoIP providers can then immediately make it possible for the owners of these numbers to reclaim them from wherever they are, set up voice mail on them, and/or forward them to other working phone numbers. Bell South can have the numbers back when the landlines are restored to service.

    Assuming that Internet access is available (see below), a displaced family will immediately be able to put a greeting on their new voice mail account saying they are OK and giving as much information about their current location as they want to. Family members desperately looking for the displaced people then only have to call their old phone numbers to get their current status AND to leave them voice mail.”

    http://blog.tomevslin.com/2005/09/a_brilliant_ide.html

  • Liam

    Apols my last post seemed to be wholly incomprehensible. My broadband connection is mussing me around, apols.

  • Marina Architect

    Nice Work. You are one of a kind, Jeff. Some context would be to consider the 175 Million FBI Virtual Case File. 175 Million dollars and 4 Years resulted in an abandoned project. That’s our existing leadership. That’s what we are working with now. The Open Source Community along with sponsorship from fringe programmers to tech start-ups and the Intel’s and Google’s needs to come together to solve this genuine world problem. The Feds don’t have the knowledge or leadership. How many top programmers work for the Feds. Few to none. Likely none. Open Source Commuinty step up. This is your Bob Dylan moment. This is the new cool, the new high.On a related note, WiMax adoption is essential. Let’s step up WiMax. Also, we need to ask Congress for funding for Open Source although it may not be necessary if everyone steps up.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Jeff, I’ll be there if I can make it, not sure yet.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    See also the WorldChanging page – http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003437.html

    for more tech responses.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Jeff, this is an excellent idea! I’ve actually been thinking along the same lines since I wrote a post on Aug 31 talking about how “I Want To Save The World” which pretty much equals your thoughts about how technology isn’t as great as everyone thinks it is and we need to improve it as quickly as we can to be ready the next time. A couple of thoughts on your points that I’ve actually already been thinking about myself.

    Distributed Systems Working Collectively

    Distributed systems on the Web right now are its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. It is critically important though that information still be decentralized because if you create one site to collect and share this information, it will get severely overloaded (i.e. Technorati) especially in a disaster situation with everyone utilizing it. Therefore, not only do we need technology that allows information to be gathered from anywhere but we also need ways for this information to be distributed anywhere so that its viewing load is not loaded on one system but distributed anywhere. How this can be achieve, I’m not 100% sure but maybe something done through RSS distribution through key clusters to relay information to neighboring sites is the way to go. Only thing though is that a missing person list via RSS would probably be large but still would it be more than a 1 MB of info? Hell, even if it was 10MB of info, I’m sure people would still host it on their site. Hmm, just thought of something, its too bad there wasn’t for the technology to detect the load on the server and if it is too overload then when you click to view the list, you are actually pulling it off of a site somewhere else that has a smaller load. This kind of sounds like how BitTorrent works doesn’t it? It determines the best place to grab the information for you so that you are sitting around waiting for the download off of a high traffic site.

    Cheap Devices

    I’ve already talk about this on my site as well under my post “Web2OS + Browser PC = Accessible Computing” which talks about using Nicolas Negroponte’s $100 latop for developing nations as a cheap accessible emergency PC for situations like this (you can even crank them up to generate energy to use them). Of course, for this to work though, it would require a wide area WiFi emergency network station being setup immediately after a disaster to help relay communications and networking traffic. I also want to emphasis the word networking as well. Cheap cell phones are a decent idea but phone networks can easily get overloaded. Whatever is used it needs to utilize IP networking to work (VoIP). Cheap Blackberry-type devices that allow for simple text messaging through a WiFi connection would probably be the cheapest and easiest way to communicate. However for people to collaborate and communicate computers are still going to be needed since having locational maps showing where help is needed and where supplies are needed is going to be critical.

    Symbiotic Cooperation Through Situational Awareness

    Along the lines of coordinating, I think we need to take the same distributed approach to the problem as how the Internet works. We’ve seen how centralized command and control type organzations run and how slow they can be to respond. We need a system that is not controlled by anyone, yet everyone can see what is happening. My idea on this is a sort of symbiotic cooperative relationship through situational awareness. In this model, instead of having a command and control center (which can be overloaded with information), you instead have localized work being done in small groups who relay their situational awareness out to everyone else instead of sending a “command” out. No one commands anyone. Instead people relay what is happening (just like cells in the body calling for help to other cells) and then other groups act based upon that information relaying what they are doing, so that others can see that the situation is being dealt with. Therefore, imagine a map showing groups all over an area and then one groups relays that it found a large group of survivors. Immediately other groups nearby assess their situation and then determine if they can help or not. If they can, they immediately respond indicating so that not only those in need know that help is coming but everyone knows that help has been dispatched.

    Utilizing Existing Infrastructures

    Finally if we are really going to start collaborating together as a people to deal with these problems then we need to be able to do more than just send money. Money is easy to send because its virtual and can be done online. However, what about food, water, medical supplies, clothing, and so forth? You can’t ship those through a fiber optic cable by teleportation yet. If we truly want to work together and not have to rely upon other centralized organizations we need to be able to work effectively together to send supplies and yes even people to help. Therefore, I started wondering what infrastructure we could use and it dawned on me. Fedex! Hehe, actually any courier company actually. Imagine if everyone around the world sent a small non-perishable CARE package to the disaster area containing water, small rationed-like food, a small medical kit, and so forth. Of course, you can’t send packages to the disaster but you sure can get as close as you can (and Fedex even has a page which shows which areas they can’t deliver to, thus telling you how close you can deliver to). Therefore, if people and even concerned businesses collaborated in this areas and say something like twenty locations were designated along the border of the disaster zone as drop points then you’ve got the first step covered. The second step would require concerned citizens in these areas starting to convoying the supplies down to the disaster areas (kind of like what Wal Mart did) and distributing it to the locals. Of course one unloaded, they could then start shipping people out of the areas back to the drop zones where they would be given accomodations or relayed away to other large towns or cities where accommodations are being setup for them (i.e. tent city, stadium, people’s homes, whatever).

    Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. Still working on more thoughts, especially with regards to being able to share the load of information somehow to many sites to avoid the overloading of one centralized site.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Sorry, my mistake. Marina is right. A WiFi emergency networking station isn’t needed, a WiMAX one is. WiFi doesn’t have the wide range capability to cover a large area that would be needed in a disaster situation like this.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Liam, that’s a good idea actually. I was originally thinking that people could just scan their own documents and store them online securely somewhere for later access but that obviously won’t work. You can’t walk into a lawyers office, show some scanned documents and for those to be accepted by them. Those documents would need to have some sort of unique secure tag that would indicate they are legally binding / accepted in some way.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    One of the most interesting things that seems to have been glossed over is that this is the best example of the digital divide. The people abandoned in New Orleans are the ones on the other side of the digital divide: the poor, the unrepresented, the forgotten. Those people that we pretend we don’t see when we pass them on the street, ignoring their pleas until it’s too late and we cannot ignore them anymore – like now.

  • http://mp.blogs.com Michael Parekh

    Very good idea, Jeff…I’m happy to help with time, vigorous participation and other needed resources, as this idea evolves.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Actually Jeremy raises a good point about the digital divide. If we are really going to start utilizing the power of the Internet to work effectively together then the philosophy or culture behind this should start right now. Jeff, you mentioned getting together to talk about this. Well, I’m assuming you mean physically getting together with others. If so, count a lot of people out, not because they don’t want to attend but they can’t afford to fly or drive across the country. If we want equality for all (which is what the Web is about isn’t it?) then we need a mechanism to allow everyone to voice their opinion and input their ideas. Kind of like digg.com where people put down their ideas and people rate them and discuss them (and if you could gather like minded ideas then that would be even better). Looks like some Web 2.0 collaboration tool would come in handy right now. Even more so, seeing this collaboration in action would be a great focal point for the Web 2.0 conference in October.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Nollind: you do what you can do. this is why I also suggest meetups, which occur anywhere in the world! i’m not suggesteing that everyone who ever is going to help on this would get in a room; there’s no room big enough, i hope. i’m suggesting that some of the folks who happen to be nearby can figure out some ways to help communicate to the people who will build what needs to be built in the internet way, the open-source way: from anywhere, distributed intelligence coming together. i’m not sure what the best vehicles are; that’s why discussion in person would be good. it may be a wiki or digg but those may be too centralized, too much about one path. don’t know.

  • dg

    Seems to me a weighty problem in your idea is organization. The key phrase I am seeing in so much these days is fragmentation. Fragmentation in communications in New Orleans, in media sources, in shelters from state to state, in major sites, in millions of blogs.

    There have been contributions from tech companies big and small. No doubt there is much the open source community could contribute – one souped up computer loaded with MySql and PHP could easily and quickly log records from all shelters, all churches.

    Instead, it seems there are many registries and many agencies trying to fill that gap.

    So I wonder if you take might be modified slightly to that of a consultant role? Dave Winer for one would be a wonderful reference to any agency.

    Consider this: one site for tech geeks to register and state their area of expertise. Room to add documents of plans or resources.

    Jotspot comes to mind as a readi-made site able to handle something like that. And no doubt Joe Kraus would support the effort. Your site could easily start the awareness of one place as a source for geeks of various expertise.

    We all want to help, we just don’t have the means to band together. But we have to. We aren’t Intel.

  • http://www.syracuse.com/newslogs/newstracker/ Brian Cubbison

    Real-time librarians will be needed to go from digital site to site and tag, index and aggregate the disparate (and desperate) calls for help. Open source, tagging and scraping technologies will make this easier, but it will take the brute force of people sitting down and doing this. The good thing is, there are many people who are willing and able, and they can be anywhere in the world.

    How do you scrape a message written on a rooftop? (Scrape the closed-captioning of TV broadcasts, perhaps, but that’s barely a start.)

  • http://www.syracuse.com/newslogs/newstracker/ Brian Cubbison

    Connect to the analog world, not just for gathering info but for sending it.

    How can you squeeze your data to an AM radio. (An Internet radio broadcast using speaking software that can be picked up and used by the nearest operating radio station, maybe?)

    How can you get your data to a shelter that has no power, phone, or Internet?

    Unless you can airlift a generator-cellphone-loudspeaker-scoreboard tower for every major intersection in the zone, how will the message get there?

    You may have to print out pdfs and run through the water or the burning streets to the shelters, or fly over and drop them as leaflets.

  • http://weblogsky.com Jon Lebkowsky

    Jeff, good stuff. I invite you to come over and help at the PeopleFinder project!

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  • Eric

    Good point about the lessons from the web.

    I need to point out that we need to use the web to help prepare people for disasters. They happen and it is very obvious that existing institutions are poorly equipped to mitigate them.

    So while we do our best to reform FEMA and the rest, average every day people need to take some responsibility for their health and well being.

    I’m in California, an earthquake zone, yet hardly anyone ever discusses the prudent actions of having stored water, food, and first-aid kits. We know a large quake can happen at any moment, but even this prudent act of stocking essentials and preparing for it seems macabre and paranoid.

    Worse than quakes is the Avian Flu issue. Here is a looming and imminent public health danger orders of magnitude beyond Katrina. Yet where is the preparation, both in our governments (fed, state, local) and in the general population? It is a HUGE risk and we’re betting the farm that it won’t happen. But flu pandemics have happened before, and will happen again, and all signs now point to a very immediate danger.

    Blogs need to get people to think and prepare about these things.

    So let’s use the blogs for what they’re best at, drawing in and building communities of thinking problem solving people that can argue about problems and hopefully work toward viable strategies.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Doh, excellent point Jeff. I keep talking about the need to keep things decentralized so they don’t overload and this same principle needs to be kept in collaborating on this. You’re right, everyone should be doing what they can. And many smaller groups is a better approach than one large group. Kind of sounds like the old natural selection approach. Everyone works on an approach and whichever works best people jump onto it.

    Only problem I see with this approach though is that it may be very closed. Companies working on this technology won’t release a hint of their research until they are completed and release their product, if even then. I’d rather see an open source approach where all the research information is shared every step of the way, so that if one group hits a road block, another group may figure out a way around it. Collective distributed reasoning. Or the leap frog approach. :)

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Eric – good post.

    For a site working on relief to all areas (good structure, I think) http://www.reliefportal.com/site.php

  • http://altechorama.blogspot.com al

    Jeff,

    great post–helps jar the imagination. Isn’t it a shame no-one has a small battery or solar powered cell repeater that could be disbursed by air. Not powerful but enough to let people make an SOS

    Cellphones are the home PC/entertainment systems/distress systems of the future

    we need emergency services products that utilize and enhance these products

    http://altechorama@blogspot.com

  • http://mikewatkins.net/ Michael Watkins

    In Disaster and Technology I caution that not one line of code should be written, not one spec authored, until folks spend time in disaster relief.

    Run, do not walk, to the Red Cross and work in one of their call centers where they do family reunification work. See what they do. It can be improved upon but you will find out that all the bits and bytes we love to discuss are only part of the issue.

    You’ve got often distraught people on one side and a massive volunteer force of helpers on the other, and a big mix of abilities bridging the two. As Jerremy Pepper above notes, a real digital divide exists between many who will need help and the systems we might envision. Guess what, a digital divide exists between many of the helpers and what we might build!!

    Spend some time taking disaster phone calls and note how difficult it is to use an “online” system while talking to someone who is crying and in hysterics or is angry or near suicidal. I’ve been there and done that.

    Disaster call centers are note staffed by 100 WPM touch typists / headphone wearing script readers who can blast through a data entry screen. They are, by and large, staffed by volunteers, around the clock.

    Data collection can take many forms. Much of it is still in paper. quite a lot of it will probably remain in paper for some time to come.

    Still, there are enormous opportunities for improvement.

    Just don’t assume the requirements are quite as straight forward as collecting the right data, getting it mangled nicely to fit into some mega schema, and sharing it widely and broadly in some web/rss/etc enabled system.

    The system (today’s, tomorrows, whatever bridges the two) has to deal with real humans, many of which – victims and helpers – are not computer comfy, under conditions of high stress.

  • http://scott.heiferman.com heif

    count me in to participate. @ web 2.0 conf is a good idea.

  • http://scott.heiferman.com heif

    i’ve focused tuesday’s NY Tech Meetup on this.
    http://newtech.meetup.com/1/events/4743354/

  • Sam Perry

    Great Jeff – subject of my Stanford Digital Vision fellowship is loosely-linked self-organizing hubs/nodes for precisely what you suggest – would be keen to collaborate with you and with many others in this thread. Thanks for pulling this together as fully as you have done. Sam

  • http://morphemetales.blogpspot.com Curt

    I’d suggest a tag for this undertaking, maybe simply Recovery2.0

    Recovery2.0

  • Henry

    More disasters are on their way.

    Nothing that you propose ,Jeff, will make much difference.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Well, OK, Henry, then I’ll just give up. Jeesh. This is why people disrespect blog comments. There are a few dozen contributions to the conversation and then there’s you. I won’t give up on improving things, just on you, Henry.

  • Park

    A modest suggestion from one trying to make the transition to newer technology.

    As an old time (octogenarian) “ham” radio operator, I suggest you look into the organization of that group that for many years often provided the only communication capability during natural disasters. The annual “Field Day” before the start of hurricane season could serve as a model.

    Part of my morning routine is to read BuzzMachine. I commend you in your effort to integrate the old media with the new.

  • Henry

    Jeff

    What did I say?

    It could have been the start of a beautiful friendship.

  • http://www.paradox1x.org Karl

    Jeff, a great, great post. Hopefully a web of efforts like these will take root and make a difference. Michael, I will take your advice this week.

  • Colin Paxton

    A system like the one suggested would take an incredable amount of money to set up and I still think it is likelyu to fall flat on its face.

    Problems:

    Any system like this is likely to require a giant centralised server with a capcity which is signifcantly larger than that of google.

    First major problem: is the internet as a structure actaully going to be capable of withstanding the billions of hits including requests for information such as CAD diagrams and high res photos.

    Maintance cost: Such an event where a large co-ordinated response is needed is only problay going to happen once/twice a year even with global warming. Only a small fraction of this will happen in the US so who would foot the bill for a system designed to support global disaters.

    harware requirements: having internet access on the ground would have been extemely difficult in the hurricane area. Most communication links were down, electricity was down, mobile networks crumbled. Likely any major wiMax conetivly if it existed would be wiped out. If this desater had happened in a third world country access to this and other computer equipment would be very limited anyway.

    Design and control of open source development. Large open source projects can often be difficult particually when you have the number of programmers as you are likely to get in this project.

    Company involement. Many companies like responding in the aftermath of an attack, natural distar etc. this give the impressition that the company cares and doesn’t really cost much. However long term investment as would be required to back such solutions and access to networks (in the VoIP solution) would not nessiarly be very popular and would be the first things to be cut in profit drives.

    Control of uploading information: A central govewrnement resource will have to be put incharge of what information can be uploaded. For example a blue prints of a buildings maybe important to upload for rescue proposes but who has access to it. For example what if this is a bank you dont nessiarly want the exact floor plan on the internet for all to see.

    Usage: who decides when such a system should be used, it will cost a lot of implement its use each time. for example would the bombings in london count? if so why not have a permently operting system for iraq where that number of civilans die every day?

    Multiple emergencies: Who would decide on the divison of resources, what if 2 hurricanes hit one in the us and one in India, do the inidans get as much support even though they are likely to have a greater loss of life?

    The hardware problems can mostly be overcome by investing huge amounts of money probaly in excess of £20 billion set up and then a further £2 billion. Websites such as BBC news have managed to adapt to recieveing a lot of hits in a short period of time through server farms and backup domain site but they do still suffer under the strain and almost everyone with internet access will want to access the information posted on anyweb site. Also a boost to the internet network maybe required to cope with the extra bandwidth requirements.

    Giving tax incentives to companies contibuting to the system could be helpful to the development of any such system.

    A suggestion I would have to many of these problems is to employ an operating company such as IBM which has experience in high load servers and has great links and experience working with the open source compnity to build up and develop a reliable open source piece of software.

    I would kid you not that any such system will take a very long time to implement and we are unlikely to see a completed piece of software within a decade but you may see a system which allows access to a restricted group of people, (emergency services, Security agencies, approved researchers etc) within a few years. But a full system with backup wiMax and SMS recieving technologies I feel could be a long way off.

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  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Colin:
    It’s not a system at all.
    Your thinking 1.0.
    This is about people doing what they do in a distributed way but just trying to get them to swarm together around standards, links, ideas, and so on.
    That’s 2.0.

  • http://None Srinivas

    Good to see the discussion generated here, i have thought about people locator and have some concept pictures which i would like to publish, how do i send attachments, these are some basic pictures i tried to provide it to my team.

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  • http://susanmernit.blogspot.com susan mernit

    Jeff, wise words and great idea. Truth is, a distributed mailing list/wiki and some light planning could go a long way. Dina Meta is someone else to involve and I will send her this link, though Henshall probably has.
    I am willing to helpif it’s useful. Thanks for the good suggestion!

  • http://sdk.typepad.com/trust Staci Kramer

    Colin, it can start with some very simple things. For instance, on the info management side:

    – a tag list posted as quickly as possible at major info sites where people starting their own “information centers” are likely to go ie the American Red Cross, ICRC, etc.. People would be urged to include those tags. Also, a “disaster” tagging protocol (for want of a better word) could be set up in advance and publicized so people would have access to a common tag set.

    – an easily available common people-finder form so as many people as possible who are hosting sites are all using the same format.

    Neither of those things should carry much cost. Myriad things as basic as that can be done.

    And, no, Fred, you don’t need a conference to make things happen but it’s not a bad idea to gather people in person as well as online. Nothing wrong with using various conferences as places to have analog conversations that blend with online activity.

  • http://dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/paul/ paul

    George Bush had access to telecommunications, TV, Radio and the Internet yet thousands of Americans died long after the hurricane struck.

  • http://www.fullcirc.com/weblog/onfacblog.htm Nancy White

    Following on from Staci, Alex Samuels posted a good piece on tagging to help us find each other and cooperate/collaborate http://tagsonomy.com/index.php/40/ – this came out of a skype chat between Staci and I. An email to Alex and, poof, it was done. Distributed collaboration is something to really look at. Not only what are our technologies, but what are our practices.

    One of the things that really matters is prior relationships. Having a network you can activate and respond to trumps many challenges. Staci knew me, I knew Alex. Tiny example, but from where I sit, the seed of almost all the action I’ve witnessed or been party two since Katrina hit.

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Curt, I was just thinking the same thing. I’m going to start using Recovery2.0 as a tag as well. BTW hopefully with the Web 2.0 we can actually use spaces in tags. :)

    Jeff, don’t get upset with Henry. If he hadn’t of showed up, I would have been surprised. The larger the discussion, the more this happens. That’s why as you said, small groups each working on their own but collectively together is the way to go.

    Henry, geez at least give reasons why it won’t work so we can learn from your wisdom and build off of it. And no I’m not being sarcastic. The more people saying why things can’t be done, the more proactive these groups can be in thinking of all possible ways to work and build around these issues.

    Colin, yes that’s centralized thinking which is what we don’t want because, exactly as you said, it would put an enormous strain on things (which I mentioned in Distributed Systems Working Collectively, see comment #8 above).

    Susan, good ideas. I think Jeff wants to see a working Wiki as well (as per his update on his original post). As for a mailing list, I’d rather see an aggregation of each groups progress reports into one feed that anyone can subscribe to from their aggregator or email (as I’m pretty sure I saw a service that could do this). For this to work though, these feeds need to be on topic and not filled with unrelated content (i.e. found a cool site with a flaming logo on it today!).

  • http://www.writingcave.com Amrit Hallan

    A great post Jeff. When the Tsunami hit the Indian shores the Indian bloggers put up a Tsunami blog at http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/. It turned out to be a great resource.

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  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Paul, just read your post. Georgie doesn’t read any of those (he’s too busy and important of a guy to be connected to reality) but gets aids to give him a general daily wrap of what’s in the news that day (and I’m sure just primarily from the standpoint of his ratings).

    Honestly, if you think he actually used any of those mediums, then you are basically saying he is the most idiotic person on earth because he sees what is going on but doesn’t understand any of what it means. And actually this has already been stated by Bob Shieffer on Face The Nation.

    Bob Shieffer Blasts the response to Katrina
    http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/09/04.html#a4787

    “Yet as scenes of horror that seemed to be coming from some Third World country flashed before us, official Washington was like a dog watching television. It saw the lights and images, but did not seem to comprehend their meaning or see any link to reality.”

  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Doh, just noticed that Jeff already tagged this post “recovery2″. Looks like I’ll use that instead of Recovery2.0. Actually Recovery2 almost sounds like you too (2) can help in the recovery.

  • Rob

    I worked in one of the shelters and I was amazed to see the technology they were using to register evacuees: very simple Excell spreadsheets.

    Someone needs to develop an open-source “Evacuation Shelter Operating System”. A single CD or DVD that installs on either a single computer or a network of computers that helps even untrained people get a shelter running and keeps records of evacuees and their progress.

    If network connectivity is available, then the software can make use of it, but it must not assume connectivity. It should be able to offer guidelines for setting up a shelter, be able to print name badges for victims and volunteers, be able to print signs for the shelter, have contact information for all government agencies (which can be printed out for volunteers), have logistics and planning functions to estimate food and water needs, have forms for evacuees to fill out with contact and family information (to be made available over the internet, once connectivity is established), and so on.

    Often, shelters are set up by volunteers with only sketchy training or even none at all. When you see real pros set up a shelter, you realize that there is much science to it and that doing it right leads to a much better experience for the evacuees.

    I don’t think this would be an enourmous effort. It’s really just a web application deployed on the main computer, with other computers interacting with it via web browsers. Gathering and indexing the enormous amount of information it would need to present could take some time, but I’ll bet a lot of that work has already been done.

    Imagine the coolness of a Shelter OS that could, with little or no work by the staff, find other Shelter OS’s running elsewhere, trade information with them and start to link up scattered families or automatically bring along medical information and history as an evacuee is moved from shelter to shelter.

    We could do this.

  • http://www.perrspectives.com AvengingAngel

    How do you explain FEMA’s abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina only one year after its swift action in the four storms of 2004?

    Well, Louisiana isn’t Florida. And Kathleen Blanco isn’t Jeb Bush.

    For the full story on the politics of Bush-era disaster relief, see:

    “FEMA: Florida Election Management Agency.”

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  • george h weber

    As an old codger who has lots of experience in gov’mint but very little with the hi-tech computer-world, I would like to add this—–

  • george h weber

    You guys know a lot more than I do ab out the high-tech world, but I have a lot of experience in gov’mint and would add this—

  • george h weber

    Maybe you techies can do something useful—-more power to you—but you may havenoticed that our leader has alreadygotten $l0.5 billion and is going to ask for $40 billion MORE…………That’s a lot of taxpayer dollars. How is it going to be spent? How will we keep track? If they do no better with $50.5 billion than they have so far, we should all make some noise—-I mean SCREAM……………Do any of you really know what that kind of money really means……And of course, if we weren’t fighting an unnecessary war iin Iraq, we could use those dollars and those resources here at home…………Can we really stand 3 1/2 more years of W and his crowd?

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  • http://www.bushisms.com Georgina Bush

    Oh Bugger Off. Can’t you let me enjoy my vacation.

  • http://amediadragon.blogspot.com Jozef Imrich

    Thank you for the vision and the map. Jeff. It will make our currency, be it in $ of crowns, swim further … This initiative is the lifeline we need in every local community.

    Thoughtful pioneers like the Austrian-American Peter Drucker tell us that in this world capital isn’t scarce, but vision is!

    Abbie Hoffman summed up his vision along the following lines: ‘Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do.You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.’
    Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die today

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  • http://None Srinivas

    There are lot of good thought floating here, any kind of locator system has to be developed with help of government, the basic elements required are Street info (incl apt) , city and Zip, area codes for telephone and cell phones, this should be an autopopulated processes so that there is less data entry at the shelter and avoids spelling errors and further probing and takes out the irritation factor, from a data seeking stand point, we just should be able to ask for person name and take other information as much as possible from the system.
    I come from a reporting back ground and can see how we can use this data for a retrieval process, you just group the data on a zip, city and streed basis , you will automaticaly see communities updated as data entry happens, this will be structuraly sound since people are interested about their relatives and neighbors.
    Sorry to get to a solution mode, thought this will be useful input, i have some concept pictures which i would like to send , pl let me know the appropriate person.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Folks reading this thread:

    There’s a lot of good discussion here. If you’re willing, please create an account at http://www.4setup.com and add them in the appropriate place. It’s a wiki (as per Jeff’s most recent update) and you’ll need to create an account to post or edit.

    It’s really heartening that so many people have ideas and want to do something to help.

    Greg

  • Nancy Acorn

    Good ideas that I have read. Disaster planning. I have planned for my own family needs, I have not planned of my very city or county was destroyed. That made me think about my area. Does my city, county have a disaster plan? No.I do not know where to go if an earthquake, flood or terrorist destroyed my area. Does anyone out there know if there cities or counties have a plan that you are aware of? If so I would be interested on how that was developed so I could present it to our local government.

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  • http://nollind.whachell.com/ Nollind Whachell

    Whoa Michael! Your post on Disaster and Technology made me realize something very very important that I think we haven’t thought about.

    It’s not so much building the perfect system, it building a system that is flexible and adaptable enough to change on the fly based upon the needs of the situation. Strangely enough, this is a cultural value that should be embedded within every business, organization, and government body today. It is not so much building the perfect system as building a flexible one.

  • http://pop-pr.blogspot.com Jeremy Pepper

    Check out href=”http://displaceddesigner.com/”>Displaced Designer. Action at its best.

    Via Adrants.

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  • http://evelynrodriguez.typepad.com Evelyn Rodriguez

    Thanks for taking up this Recovery 2.0 idea at last. In my post, I also said: “Me wondering aloud: Weren’t we collectively asking these very same questions on December 27th?”

    I’d be interested in helping out any way I can.

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  • Pat Williams

    It is time for us to point the finger at ourselves ! I visited New Orleans several times over the past 10 years and I knew this city was a sitting duck. Everyone knew ! We made a decision that the odds were too great versus the cost and we rolled the dice. SNAKE EYES ! WE LOST !

    That is the truth. The Mayor knew it, the people of New Orleans knew it, FEMA knew it and just about anyone who every visited New Orleans knew it.

    What drives me crazy is repeating the same mistakes again. There are 10,000 people still in the city. They either can’t or won’t leave. We all know they will fall victim to a variety of illnesses due to the deteriorating health conditions. Further, they drain the resourses of the relief effort because they need to be provided care, food and present a serious fire risk. Yet, they remain. The Mayor just does not have the heart to marshal the full power of the Nation Guard and march these folks out of town. This is a repeat of the initial failure of goverment to act quickly and in the best interest of the people.

    I understand that a lot of people are frustrated, sad, angry and concerned about the victims in New Orleans. I am too ! But, look in the mirror. Point the finger at yourself. Apathy is the cancer of a democracy. It is time ” we the people ” exercised our constitutional responsibilities and asked the people in Congress, FEMA, the State and New Orleans two questions. Looking back at Katrina and the loss of life and property, please defend your decision to not build a levy system capable of protecting the city from all hurricances ? Why didn’t you have an evacuation plan that took in consideration the thousands of people who could not leave the city ?

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  • http://neuropsychological.blogspot.com rissera

    I read the short version of this on Dan Gillmor’s blog, so I apologize if my comment below falls afield of the current discussion.

    The List Needs An Additional Content Area – At the Front
    Submitted by rissera on Wed, 09/07/2005 – 10:55am.

    Having been stranded in New Orleans on the eve of landfall and having to get my way out of town via a marathon wireless internet session that allowed me to cobble something together over CraigsList New Orleans – I can give you a first-person statement that there needs to be an additional content area to your list.

    One thing needed for any such online venue is a step 1 preventative mechanism – not simply a venue to deal for what happens later. (Although, of course, by reading some of the details, it is clear that the “what happens later” needs are difficult enough for a task like this.)

    A community needs an online venue that can be pre-identified as a place to go to to aid in getting out of that community before the disaster strikes – a way to list needs for transportation, a place to indicate meet-up spots, a way to organize ways to troll (in a good way) for potential stranded individuals. Reducing the number of people that will be exposed to the disaster can only aid, if only in a small role, at reducing some of the post-disaster needs. It is true and unfortunate that the poor who do not have a car will probably not also have internet access; however public spots in New Orleans were open and available on the Saturday and might have been employed. For the more fortunate (like myself) who are tourists to a community, net access to such a venue might be the easiest and most direct way to access local resources.

    New Orleans had nothing. The Office of Emergency Preparedness had nothing in terms of public transportation options out of time – only the suggestion that buses might be made available to drive persons to the Superdome. The New Orleans Vistors and Convention Bureau had nothing. CraigsList had a smattering of traffic early Sunday morning – and it worked for me and the three others who joined out little random band of evacuees.

    If we can’t count on government resources to do the preventative work, and if we are dealing with a commerical and public transportation grid that abandons persons in advance of a disaster, we should be able to do this ourselves.

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  • http://blogs.sun.com/noel Noel Franus

    I’m really inspired by this — it’s the only place where I’ve seen some truly urgent thinking going on. Props to 2.0!

    I’m immediately tempted to mash up a lot of the ideas regarding blogs, wikis, SMS, AM radio, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of the people who need to use these things don’t want to deal with a computer (in the Alan Cooper sense) — they want/need to simply communicate. Most cell phones aren’t even very good for that at first, not until you’ve played with them for a while and understood the failings of the product’s interface.

    Here’s where I’m tempted to go with this: push-button technology. You remember CBs. Or walkie-talkies. At a very base level, it seems to make sense that cities should outfit each home with a long-range walkie talkie — put it right there with the axe, duct tape and water.

    …when in need, just press the button and start talking. Talk with your neighbors. Talk to a dispatcher who’s waiting. Talk to someone who’ll translate your message into SMS or a blogpost or a wikipost, or so on.

    Concerned about jammed airwaves? Let’s take it further: invite Sprint (nee Nextel), they of the push-button, walkie-talkie “cell phone” to the table, and let’s expand the network in whatever ways possible.

    At this point, you’re talking to your own Blogger site, with audio-to-MP3…or whatever. And if your cell is geo-enabled, then it should be relatively easy for the authorities to figure out where the signal’s coming from. Sky’s the limit.

    I have little faith that any of the current telcos could do a very good job designing for this sort of simplicity in their products — let’s admit it, their networks are their strong points — so perhaps it’s time we invited the all-star design firms to the table to think this one through: Apple, frog, Pentagram, IDEO, Ziba. Hell, make it a design competition if need be.

    Design that prototype, find a way to produce them cheaply, put it on the cover of BusinessWeek or Business 2.0, and you’ll have countless cellcos lining up to be the carrier of choice for something like this.

    What I like about all this is that this isn’t future thinking…it’s all doable now. We just need to stretch a little to make it happen.

    At the end of the day, any solution that’s going to work must be infinitely simple.

  • http://allanjenkins.typepad.com Allan Jenkins

    While this is all well-and-good, aren’t we reinventing the wheel here?

    The Southeast Asia Earthquake and Tsunami effort (http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/) was set up in hours by volunteers using Skype, IM, a blog, a wiki, and plenty of will power. Enormously successful, and today probably THE best resource on that disaster.

    An incredible story about gettin’ it done! Dina Mehta describes the process here: http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/2005/05/29.html#a630

    So perhaps it’s no surprise that the same group is behind the KatrinaHelp effort (http://katrinahelp.blogspot.com/). With plenty of resources and initiatives, showing that volunteers + cheap/free technology can swing into action far faster than the Red Cross or FEMA.

    Jeff, if you’re smart, you’ll contact Dina when she’s got some post-Katrina time and find out why a) your idea has been been a success twice now, b) why it doesn’t require lots of infrastructure and planning and c) you probably could just leave the telcos out of it.

    I love your idea — it’s just that it’s been (and is being) done already. Maybe the effort should look more at first learning lessons from what’s already gone down.

    Allan Jenkins

  • http://goodandhappy.typepad.com/g_as_in_good_h_as_in_happ/ dilys

    Inspired by the names of discussants everywhere who cannot be linked, because you have no web site:

    I’m just a blogger from the attenuated end of the long tail here, reminding people that already having an existing blog (or web site) is a very good idea, on the principle of a public file or bulletin board.

    For example, here is an example of a non-emergency use as an open file for client-requested information (information on the Kelo decision, and a worksheet for a little cadre of Katrina-relocated employees). It also is a way to “attach” something to comments like the ones here. Rob, for instance, could post his draft beginnings of a “Evacuation Shelter Operating System” on his own blog, and link us there. [As a matter of fact, I'd like to pursue OS idea with Rob...]

    Possession of and familiarity with a blog, how to post, attach files, check referrers, etc., makes one a much more communicative citizen at all times, in small and large ways, even if the routine readership of the blog itself, like mine, is tiny. Not to mention being a place your peeps know they can find information about you and add about themselves (comments) in a topsy-turvy situation, so long as there is internet access.

  • Michael McDonald

    A subcommittee of the National Disaster Risk Communication Initiative designed a Hurricane Resilience Network architecture and proposed the system as a way to dramatically improve preparedness, evacuation, response, relief, and recovery for disadvantaged populations based upon our debriefings during and after the 2004 hurricanes in Florida. We were unable to get any uptake from FEMA or the Red Cross on the system. In meetings with Mike Brown (former head of FEMA) and Marty Evans (President of the Red Cross) that were supposed to be on citizen preparedness, the discourse did not lead to robust citizen preparedness proposals, but seemed to focus instead on managing bureacracy.

    We then designed a Disaster Knowledge Management System architecture, which incorporated many of the ideas in the Hurricane Resilience Network, in a Phase I prototype that we tested during the late relief and recovery phase of the Indian Ocean Basin tsunami disaster. We are now in discussion with the private sector, non-profits, and the government in standing up the Phase II Disaster Knowledge Management System during the late relief and early recovery phases of the Katrina disaster areas — as well as with a parallel instantiation for Avian Flu in the mid to late preparedness stage.

    Below is a high-level overview. The Disaster Knowledge Management System is designed on a web services architecture. It is designed to empower smartmobs (which can sometimes act more quickly than government and large non-profit bureaucracies), but also provide integrated situational awareness to government, non-profits, private sector interests and the general public — with a focus on those individuals and communities most in need. Anyone interesting in linking or working with us on the Katrina instantiation, please feel free to contact me at McDonald@GHI-INC.com.

    Sincerely,

    Mike

    Disaster Knowledge Management System

    Implemented in Hurricane Katrina Disaster Areas
    Within New Orleans and the Gulf States

    The National Disaster Risk Communication Initiative (NDRCI) and some of
    its partners are working on an Katrina Disaster Knowledge Management
    System to be built on top of the architecture for Hurricane Disaster
    Knowledge Management Systems. Its infrastructure is based on
    progressive work done in developing a multi-hazard Disaster Knowledge
    Management System as derived from:

    1) NDRCI debriefings on the knowledge management needs and service gaps in Florida during and after the hurricane season of 2004,

    2) the testing of the psychosocial assessment and intervention
    principles of the Disaster Knowledge Management System in its hurricane
    preparedness, response and recovery instantiations, as discussed in the
    NOAA/ National Water Resources Institute summit in Winter of 2005.

    3) the Hurricane Disaster Knowledge Management System architecture
    designed for addressing the needs of disadvantaged populations in the
    Mid-Atlantic region (proposed to FEMA in Winter 2005); and

    4) the phase I prototype Disaster Knowledge Management System designed for the tsunami disaster areas in the Indian Ocean Basin (as developed with funding from the Jonas Salk Foundation in Winter 2005).

    The government infrequently has an opportunity to act proactively to
    prevent and mitigate the impacts of large-scale social crises. However, with the Disaster Knowledge Management System, the private sector, government and the public can share an anticipatory science base that will increase our society’s ability to respond during large-scale social crises. In the case of the Hurricane Katrina, engaged citizens and the private sector have an opportunity to establish a hurricane instantiation of an all hazards Disaster Knowledge Management System during the late stage relief and recovery phases of the Katrina disaster, if we act quickly.

    In addition, NDRCI members are submitting for review a recommendation to test and evaluate the Phase II pilot of the Disaster Knowledge Management System (DKMS) in New Orleans and the Gulf States during the response, relief and recovery phases of the Katrina hurricane disaster as the testbed for an Avian Flu Knowledge Management System that can start in the preparedness phase of the Avian Flu Pandemic in the United States. The phase II DKMS pilot will focus on building and testing infrastructure immediately necessary to support the Katrina relief and recovery efforts, but also with the intention of understanding how fast different components of an all hazards Disaster Knowledge Management System could be stood up in late Fall of 2005 in several metropolitan areas around the United States to prepare for and respond early to Avian Flu outbreaks.

    Hurricane Katrina has provided a natural experiment of significant scope
    and gravity in the large microcosm of New Orleans and the Gulf States.
    The knowledge management needs for Katrina relief and recovery are
    immediate and enormous. With full knowledge that there are significant
    difference between the domain-specific knowledge management needs in
    natural disasters and infectious disease epidemics, it is proposed that
    the underlying Disaster Knowledge Management System Infrastructure used for Katrina relief and recovery become a prototype for testing the
    essential infrastructure and stand-up time for an Avian Flu Knowledge
    Management System. The phase II pilot in New Orleans and the Gulf
    States would be based upon the same open system, all hazards
    architecture proposed to NOAA, FEMA, and the international community of NGOs during 2004 and 2005 Disaster Knowledge Management System
    development initiatives.

    The Phase II New Orleans / Gulf Coast Katrina Hurricane instantiation of the Disaster Knowledge Management should and can be implemented immediately. The components it would share with an all hazards Disaster Knowledge Management System, including for Avian Flu, would be as follows:

    1) Situational Awareness

    Gaining situational awareness on key indicators of need, status of
    services delivered and available, and gaps between need, services and
    promised time delimited deliverables.

    2) Strategic Interventions in Gaps

    Quickly directing resources and asserting leverage to address gaps,
    starting with mission critical gaps between needs and service delivery.

    3) Communication and Management

    Communicating locally, regionally, nationally, and globally to manage
    deliverables and outcomes on the ground (as tested in Phase II in New
    Orleans and throughout the Gulf State disaster areas down to the shelter
    and neighborhood level).

    4) Community Development

    Setting up “Healthy Communities Networks” and trainings for shelters and
    communities working with approved Federal agencies and NGOs to assess
    their assets and liabilities, and monitor progress on relief, recovery
    and reconstruction in standard ways that helps them tangibly feel
    improvements, as they are being made, and understand gaps that still
    remain to be addressed.

    5) Financial Management, Project Management, and Transparency

    Establish an integrated system of financial management, project
    management, and transparency, so agencies and donors can track and
    monitor money flow and deliverables. This will ensure appropriate money
    flow through constantly addressing constituent, agency, and donor
    expectations with good communications, clear accounting, and sound
    management.

    Immediate action is sought from non-profits and private sector interests that can help fund and participate in the rapid introduction of the Disaster Knowledge Management System testbed within the Katrina disaster areas. Letters of interest are requested by September 14, 2005.

  • http://teleread.org/blog Roger Sperberg

    $100 laptop and disaster investment
    Submitted by RogerS on Sat, 09/10/2005 – 12:08pm.

    Rapid WiMax hotspot deployment after a disaster.

    Invest hundreds of millions or billions now in a project like MIT Media Labs $100 laptop.

    Assign people instant email address (your-phone-number@fema.gov).

    Heck, wasn’t the internet created to deal with communications emergencies?

    Anyway, my thinking on a possible technology response to Katrinaand subsequent disasters/emergencies:

    “The $100 laptop and disaster investment”: http://www.teleread.org/blog/?p=3560

    – Roger Sperberg

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  • http://ssrdatta.blogspot.com Saheli

    Maybe I’m just a little fried, but how does one do trackbacks on this new and improved WP installation? I don’t see a trackback url anywhere, yet clearly they are possible. Or have we moved on to some new incarnation thereof via tagging? I don’t see a FAQ to figure this out in!

    ANYWAY. Sorry to be a newbie. I just wanted to say

    a) this is fantastic and important
    b) PREPARATION is the most important thing
    and
    c) there is an already existing nonprofit community, at least at my local level*, that tries to address the issue of preparing the most vulnerable people and people with special needs (the poor, the elderly, parents, the disabled, the non-English speakers, the pet-owners, ETC) when it comes to disasters.

    Plugging the digerati and the wider web community into the already existing preparedness and prepare-the-vulnerable communities would be an invaluable service.

    More at my blog.

    *San Francisco Bay Area–new motto, “Yike! We’re next!”

  • http://kushtandon.squarespace.com/journal/atom.xml Kush Tandon

    I want to help you guys. I am an earth scientist and some of my background can be of use. Do let me know.

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  • http://government.zdnet.com Richard Koman

    Is there anyone in government reading this? Local, state, fed? This is all for naught if no one in government can start to build the connections between govt. and technologists.

  • http://e-democracy.org Steven Clift

    Here at E-Democracy.Org we figure every community should have a citizen-based forum for local involvement. We’d like to see “Issues Forums” across the South that help citizens have a say in -local- recontruction. Perhaps the existing web forums will do fine, but facilitated spaces that promote civility might be particularly important.

    For more on what the heck an Issues Forum is, see:
    http://e-democracy.org/center/if.html

    And our 60 page guidebook:
    http://e-democracy.org/uk/guide.pdf

    Cheers,

    Steven Clift
    http://publicus.net

  • Paul Ferenczy (Rev)

    Have some skilled carpenters and assistants who are looking for transportation and job opportunities in the hurricane affected areas. Other than the National Jobs search…..are there any other agencies that I might look for? Thanks

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  • http://www.stanford.edu/~rruss Ray Russ

    Hey folks, for anyone in either living in or coming to the bay area I thought I’d mention the following series of discussions that will take place at Stanford University starting next week.

    NOTE: Please forgive if this is an inappropriate place to mention this.

    —begin—

    Dear Continuing Studies Student,
    Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath revealed many troubling problems in American society, not only about how local, state and federal governments responded, or did not respond to a disaster of catastrophic proportions, but about other deep-seated issues involving class, race, and other inequalities. In an effort to understand some of the complex societal issues that surfaced as a result of the recent natural disaster, the faculty leadership of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Stanford has organized a special course, open to Stanford students and members of the community to explore matters of race and class disadvantage that were laid bare by the hurricane and its consequences.
    Confronting Katrina: Race, Class, and Disaster in American Society
    Four Monday evenings
    7:00 – 9:00 PM
    Oct 10, Nov 7, Nov 28: Braun Hall (Building 320 in the Old Quad), Room 105
    Oct 24: Cubberley Auditorium (School of Education Bldg.)

    The series is open to the public and free of charge.

    Meeting #1:
    “Foundations of Neglect”
    October 10th
    Braun Hall (Building 320 in the Old Quad), Room 105
    Introduction and Orientation to the Course:
    Provost John Etchemendy*,
    Larry Bobo, Professor of Sociology
    Matt Snipp, Professor of Sociology
    Moderator:
    Matt Snipp, Director, Undergraduate Program in CCSRE, Professor of Sociology
    Panelists:
    Larry Bobo, Director of CCSRE and AAAS, Professor of Sociology
    Al Camarillo, Co-director of RICSRE, Professor of History
    Luis Fraga, Associate Professor of Political Science

    Meeting #2:
    “Media, Culture, and the Politics of Representation:
    Viewing a Racialized Disaster”
    October 24th
    Cubberley Auditorium (School of Education Bldg.)
    Moderator:
    Hazel Markus, Co-director of RICSRE, Professor of Psychology
    Panelists:
    Shanto Iyengar, Professor of Communication
    Marcy Morgan, Associate Professor of Communication
    John Rickford, Professor of Linguistics
    Brian Lowry, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Business*

    Meeting #3:
    “Organizations as the Solution and the Problem”
    November 7th
    Braun Hall (Building 320 in the Old Quad), Room 105
    Moderator:
    David Palumbo-Liu, Professor of Comparative Literature
    Panelists:
    Debra Satz, Associate Professor of Philosophy
    David Brady, Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy*
    Dale Miller, Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior*
    Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life
    Robert Gregg, Teresa Hihn Moore Professor of Religious Studies*

    Meeting #4:
    “Lessons from Katrina”
    November 28th
    Braun Hall (Building 320 in the Old Quad), Room 105
    Presiding:
    John Hennessy, President*
    Panelists:
    TBA

    *to be confirmed

    .

    http://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/

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  • Michael McDonald

    Gulf Coast Resilience Network

    Recovery 2.0 is doing a great job of connecting people and getting the word out regarding key Katrina issues. Recovery 2.0 is quite compatible and synergistic with the DKMS: Disaster Knowledge Management System.

    (http://syncon2.us/)

    I have shared a note above describing the DKMS: Disaster Knowledge Management System and its history. Read about it above (See Michael McDonald, September 10) if you want more background.

    A Gulf Coast Resilience Network is emerging out of the DKMS, specifically focusing on the mission critical gaps associated with Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. We are now reviewing pilot communities within the Katrina disaster areas to run envisioning and planning sessions to enable them to build toward a more optimal, sustainable new normal.

    Anyone interested in looking at the DKMS technology as a free, open source platform for disaster knowledge management should join us in the DKMS. In addition, anyone interested in specifically helping out in on the ground recovery work in the Katrina disaster areas in association with the Gulf Coast Resilience Network, please join us in the Gulf Coast Resilience Network working group with the DKMS (http://syncon2.us) . You can also send me an email at McDonald@ghi-inc.com.

    Sincerely,

    Mike

    Michael D. McDonald, Dr.P.H.

    President, Global Health Initiatives, Inc.

    Coordinator, NDRCI
    National Disaster Risk Communication Initiative

  • http://www.disastersearch.org Lynne Pope

    I am part of a small team of web and graphic designers, programmers and developers from around the world who got together to create a “one stop shop” for evacuees and those searching for them. We had a working (albeit not complete) site up within 48 hours of Katrina’s landfall and were reuniting families from day one.

    The site, Disastersearch (originally named the Katrina Evacuee Help Center) is providing services to shelters, to employers and job hunters, and more, but its primary aim is to reunite those who become separated from loved ones in the aftermath of natural disasters. At the time of writing we have over 496,000 registered on the site as missing or searching for someone. The site is available in both English and Spanish.

    The team of volunteers has been working 18-20 hour days since 1st September, so has had little time to take a breath and analyze all we have learned in the last weeks. To date, much of our work has been reactionary, rather than future planning.

    Two things come immediately to mind for me when I consider the problems with our kind of project. Firstly, there is little collaboration, despite many protestations that this is what people intend. We provided access to our database through a SOAP interface. While many sites have taken the opportunity to add our search to their sites, most are unwilling to share information and pool resources. (We also provide a WAP interface and have been working with a volunteer group who set up WAP access in shelters. Similarly, we have collaborated with groups who set up public access internet at shelters. The people providing equipment and access services have been very happy to work collaboratively, but not so other websites).

    Secondly, our strict privacy rules act as a barrier to raising awareness of the site. We will not provide our database information to just any other website, restricting this only to agencies such as the Red Cross and any Federal agency. Anyone is free to search, but will not see email addresses unless the person concerned has specifically added these to the public area. By protecting the identities of the people registered with us, protecting the site from the data-mining sites and scrapers, we are also blocking ourselves from listings in the the aggregator sites such as Google and Yahoo!

    There is much more I could write, now that I have taken some time to think about the issues, but with Wilma on her way I have to get back to work. I could write screeds on the red tape I have had to deal with, and also make comment on the second-most-visited section of our site, which is our morgue listings. We cannot publish any information on the unidentified deceased, or the records from the families who have lost a body, without proper authorization – sadly, there are thousands searching and we are wrapped in red tape. It seems that sites that do not care about privacy and who do not use proper process can actually achieve more in some instances.

    I am delighted I found this site and look forward to making contact with some of you once my workload eases. If anyone is interested in making contact you can reach me via the Contacts page at Disastersearch

    Regards,
    Lynne Pope
    Disastersearch

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