Seeking Volunteers for Post-Disaster Updates

Seeking Volunteers for Post-Disaster Updates

In an effort to help, We’d like to launch focus sections of the Disaster.Com site dedicated to coverage of major active disasters – air crashes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. When something terrible happens, We would like to create a new section of the site and have links to articles, press releases and other factual (not opinion) pieces aggregated on a 24×7 basis for that specific disaster. To make 24×7 work, We need to have 5-10+ (preferably 10 or more) people from various timezones around the world participate in finding and posting information. It may last for a few days. It may last for a few weeks. There’s no way to know. What we do know is that there is always a significant amount of non-factual information out there (for example – “What air travel experts say may have happened to the Air Asia flight”). These aren’t helpful, and they make real information harder to find. Until we get full coverage, we won’t be able to launch this. If anyone is interested in volunteering (and this is a serious thing – we don’t want people to volunteer and then, when it comes time to do the work, not show up) please fill out a volunteer form or private message us (on the forums) with your timezone, when you would normally be able to dedicate time to doing this, and a list of languages you can speak/translate. Anyone who does participate will get a “FocusWriter” badge, and also be allowed to state on their resume/CV that they are a volunteer here. We’re probably a bit late to do this for the Air Asia tragedy,...
A Free Open Source Tool to Analyze Twitter

A Free Open Source Tool to Analyze Twitter

This article is a bit technical, but the end result will help you to search Twitter, analyze the tweets and then export them into a CSV file for loading into a spreadsheet application - all with a free open source tool. This article is just the beginning. We'll take a look at graphing, wordclouds and sentiment analysis in the next few weeks. All of these things are critical in identifying trends during disaster response and recovery. Twitter is great for emergency management, emergency response, and trend analysis but getting the tweets into a program for manipulation can be expensive or require a significant knowledge of programming. We're going to explore the use of "R" and "RStudio" to perform a Twitter search. While it's not simple, it does allow you to (fairly) easily get data into other programs where things ARE much simpler. "R" is an open source and free "language and environment for statistical computing and graphics". It is part of the "GNU Project", a collection of software including applications, libraries and developer tools. The GNU project has been around since 1984 and the project software is used, in some way, on almost every UNIX machine in existence. In our case, however, we're going to use the Microsoft Windows version of R, and don't be scared off by the description of what the software does. This guide may seem daunting, but it's not too complex. I'll bring you through the process step by step. Installing "R" and "R Studio" We're going to install both R, and R Studio. R is the component that actually executes our work, retrieves the data...
Giving Thanks for These Eight Dramatic Stories of Survival

Giving Thanks for These Eight Dramatic Stories of Survival

Eight different chronicles. Eight different tragic natural disasters from around the world. Here are a few stories that you may not have heard, but are a testament to the strength of will to live and survive - and to the character of the rescuers. In the US we celebrate Thanksgiving each November, but the concept of Thanksgiving itself is universal. We should all appreciate the renewed opportunity of life each of these individuals was given through their survival. Click on the pages below to view their tales. Hurricane Katrina, August 2005 - Rosezina Jefferson's baby was due on September 2nd. On August 28th, she went to stay with her best friend, Monique Moses, who was to take care of her 5-year-old son when the time came to go to the hospital. Then Katrina hit. Rosezina watched the flood waters reach the second floor of her apartment building as she went into labor. Knowing she needed help, she stepped off the the building's fire escape into the murky depths and swam two blocks - leaving her five year old son, who was screaming "Mama! Come back!" in Monique's care. Pushing off cars to make her way forward, she was rescued and brought to the hospital where she gave birth, scared and wondering if her son was still alive. Three days passed before she got word that her son was safe and at a shelter in Walker, Lousiana. Two days later, her family was reunited. Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, March 2011 - On March 14th, 3 days after the devastating tsunami caused destruction across Japan, soldiers were moving from home to home...
Big Ideas Kill International Development and Relief?

Big Ideas Kill International Development and Relief?

I’m fairly new to the international development community, but I just read this great article on the New Republic site about how new disruptive ideas for humanitarian aid and international development get massive funding because they seem like great ideas, but then dwindle and die long term. I’d love your comments as to whether my ideas below are actionable, right, wrong, and your thoughts on the article. You’ll have to join our forums to comment, but that’s free and only takes a couple of minutes. I was shocked to read this quote.. “Governments and rich people (“major donors” in NGO-ese) are embracing terms like “philanthrocapitalism,” “social entrepreneurship,” and “impact bonds,” arguing that donations are investments, not gifts.” There’s a great story about the fact that sometimes what you THINK is the problem that needs solving with international development and aid  isn’t the actual root issue. Apparently, providing textbooks to kids in Kenya didn’t improve their academics, but providing de-worming pills to make the kids healthier resulted in higher attendance rates at schools and better education – at a cost of 49 cents per pill vs. $2-$4 per textbook. But then they tried to say that this one study proved out that de-worming could be a great global solution, so they went global. Studies have now shown that it increases LIFETIME earnings of recipients by $30. Yes, $30 for their entire life. The article talks about “success, scale, fail” – the trend to find and tout a single successful program, then scale it to try to solve global issues, and then failing to make it work. It also talks about...
Notes from the AIDF Disaster Relief Summit

Notes from the AIDF Disaster Relief Summit

Quite the few days here in Washington DC at the AIDF Disaster Relief Summit. Check out our Twitter stream for all of our updates – and make sure to follow us too! I seem to have had the New York weather follow me down to DC, with temperatures in the twenties and thirties. Oh well. I spent Tuesday morning at the Voice of America studios listening to several expert presentations on journalism in disaster and crisis areas. Lots to learn and think about: Ebola Zone Reporters “Personal Protective Equipment is difficult to use properly. Used improperly, it’s more dangerous than using nothing.” Ebola Zone Reporters “Personal Protective Equipment gives false sense of security and encourages journalists to go places they shouldn’t be” Ebola Zone Reporters “Important to establish consistent safety protocols for your vehicle and hotel room” Information communication IS aid Keep in mind that the responder will be on the defensive when talked to by a journalist Journalists should go to crisis training and simulations so responders become comfortable with who they are Audience “You can’t forget that the CNN in the US is different than the CNN in Africa when it comes to Ebola reporting.” Technology innovation today allows for “care and outcomes” influenced across the total end to end care pathway In the US, first responders often have access to multiple vehicles. Elsewhere, you need multi-purpose vehicles. One of the more interesting statements I heard was one I really like. “Information IS aid”. Journalists, and sites like Disaster.Com, that provide information about disasters and crises are providing a form of aid to communities. Over the other two days of the conference we’ve...
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