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Sahana Software Foundation
Haiti Earthquake Response
Status Report #1
January 17, 2010 00:00 UTC
The Sahana Software Foundation and the Sahana community responded with a massive voluntary effort immediately following the earthquake that has devastated the poor country of Haiti. Working around the clock, we have set up a hosted instance of Sahana (the first deployment of SahanaPy following a disaster!) on a public website that is already filling gaps in the information management requirements of the massive relief operation.
We have a Haiti 2010 Sahana Disaster Response Portal - a live and active website up at http://haiti.sahanafoundation.org which contains a feeds from many of the relief agencies and links to Sahana modules that are actively being used to help coordinate the relief effort.
We have a Sahana Haiti wiki page where we are tracking all of our and others' activites at: http://wiki.sahana.lk/doku.php/haiti:start
We have a requirements page where we record all the modification, configurations, and changes to Sahana based on the mission requirements at: http://wiki.sahana.lk/doku.php/haiti:requirements
The Haiti 2010 Sahana Disaster Response Portal provides the following functionality:
1. An Organization Registry - serves to track organizations and offices working on the ground in Haiti. Organizations are encouraged to self-register and report their office locations - alternatively, individual organization office or lists of offices can be e-mailed to email@example.com and we have volunteers to assist with data entry and to aggregate lists from other sources. We have entered data from pre-disaster lists of organizations working in Haiti available from UN OCHA. We can assume that these organizations will be working on the relief efforts, but expect that most of their office locations will be different as most organizations have been forced to move into tents given that few buildings remain standing and usable in the capital. We are working to validate these lists with the organizations directly.
The site serves up both KML for Google Earth users and GeoRSS for everyone else, and will generate reports of organization activities and the gaps (uncovered sectors by geographic location). This site will hopefully become the main resource for accurate information about the organizations working on the ground, where they are located, and what activities they are engaged in, and the resources in terms of staff and equipment that they have available to them. (Currently, data is admittedly sparse but we expect more details to become available as the coordination efforts take root on the ground). We are coordinating with UN OCHA, Google and others on sources of accurate lists and updates.
What are the gaps in our information collection? We have a large and we think accurate list of organizations, but not much office location information. Without this, it becomes hard to generate data that can be used as a layer in a GIS system. We are encouraging people to report this information - preferably by GPS coordinates, but any location information that we can use to manually geo-reference the office is valuable. We hope to be able to enhance our capabilities such that we can produce polygons showing organization's areas of coverage by sector. Please direct organizations working in Haiti to our site to register their offices and activities!
2. A Missing Persons Registry / Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Registry - we are working with Google and others on an agreed common standard for the exchange of Missings Persons data using the PFIF standard. The Google site at http://haiticrisis.appspot.com/ is the main aggregator collecting all missing and found persons reports and we are encouraging all people to send data to that site. [We are struggling a little as Google's feed is not fully PFIF compliant and the lack of unique record identifiers makes it more complex to set up true synchronization without the creation of duplicate records. We continue to work with Google on this and hope to have a resolution and solution within the next few hours.] We will also be embedding Google's widget on our site for collecting missing person information. Google will be making their data available via a PFIF feed and we will be importing it into Sahana's Missing Persons registry. From there, Sahana can add value to the simple lists being collected.
In particular, Sahana's Disaster Victims Identification registry - or DVI - which is used to management the handling and tracking and tracing of the deceased, dead bodies and their identification. There is currently no other known application for this and we hope that those working in this area will find Sahana extremely valuable. Sahana will have the ability to cross-reference missing persons information with the identified and unidentified deceased, thus facilitating reconciliation efforts. The Sahana Missing Persons registry has additional physical description information fields and we hope to be able to utilize some of the image matching capabilities available to extend these capabilities further. Organizations interested in utilizing these capabilities (which will not be made open for public use) should contact the Sahana team at
Any updated missing persons status information will be pushed back to the main Google repository from Sahana.
3. Situation Mapping - Sahana's site is able to map all of the geo-referenced data within Sahana - primarily the organization data, but we have also manually entered a data layer of hospitals and medical facilities. Sahana has worked with members of the OSGeo community to obtain a fast tiled set of the current imagery being made available by Digital Globe. Sahana is also leveraging the constantly updated set of Open Street Map tiles. These are acting as backdrop for the offices that are being entered as part of the Organization Registry. Other data sources that are ready and available to be leveraged by Sahana and SahanaPy for other deployments include reports from Ushahidi, various point layers from Open Street Map, location names, USGS earthquakes, and locations from GeoNames. We will continue to build out these capabilities further as relevant layers are made available.
Capabilities we are working on:
The following capabilities are in the process of being developed and we expect will soon be available:
4. Request Management: We are working with the US State Department, Ushahidi and some other voluntary efforts on a project to process SMS messages with requests for assistance sent from survivors in Haiti. SMS text messages sent to a short code in Haiti will go into Ushahidi, who will have volunteer translators to add some structure to the message, identifying the sender's name, location (to the extent possible), and category of the message - a missing persons report, a request for assistance, etc. The message will go into a Ushahidi GeoRSS feed that will be captured by Sahana and fed into a simple Request Management system where the requests for assistance (such as "send water" to a certain village or neighborhood) can be made visible to relief organizations working on the ground. Organizations can fulfill or claim requests for handling and message the person back that assistance is coming. (Missing persons information will be captured by Google).
5. Translation: In addition, our translation project is now set up for Kreol and French translation and we may utilize a pool of Kreol-speaking volunteers being set up by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to help in these efforts. Interested translators should be directed initially to:
http://translate.hfoss.eu/wiki/Translation to become oriented in the process.
6. Shelter Registry and Disaster Victims Registry: In the coming days, we expect that there will be a requirement to start tracking the location of temporary shelters now being established, and possible registration of the survivors. We will prepare Sahana's existing registries for such purposes, which will produce further consumable data layers as well as additional missing persons reconciliation capabilities.
If you want to help:
We are using the IRC #sahana channel on freenode as our main coordination tool. Join the chat room to volunteer for tasks and someone from our core volunteer team will direct you - this room is actively staffed on a 24x7 basis.
But first, please check out the wiki pages to see what are the current requirements and areas of focus. We have a lot of volunteer Python and PHP programmers already working on the codebase, but we can probably use more. Please review the requirements page in particular to see where you might help.
We also have a large need for non-technical help - particularly for documentation support - user guidelines and instructions in particular - including some nice screenshots. See
http://trac.sahanapy.org/wiki/UserGuidelines to get started.
We also need help with Bug & Functionality testing. Please submit bug reports and feature request to: http://trac.sahanapy.org/newticket
For documentation and testing efforts - please use the development site at
http://haiti-orgsdev.sahanafoundation.org - NOT THE LIVE SITE PLEASE.
Finally, we could use help maintaining our own wiki - both the main page and requirements... much of this can be culled from the chat room logs - and helping to update some of the common public repositories of information about similar efforts, such as the crisis commons wiki at
http://crisiscommons.org/wiki/index.php?title=Haiti/2010_Earthquake, although they are doing a pretty good job at tracking us ourselves.
Remember to add yourself to the wiki as part of team, and what you are doing.
Personally, I have never been a part of such a collaborative and cooperative effort on the part of different organizations to come together and to help each other and to not replicate efforts. The Sahana community has worked closely and constantly with InSTEDD, Ushahidi, haitianquake.com, Google, the Crisis Camp participants, and others I apologize for not mentioning and we wouldn't have been able to accomplish all that we have without this, and for this I am very grateful.
The around the clock efforts of many of the Sahana community are too numerous to mention here, and at risk of leaving anyone out, I would just like to thank everyone for all that they have done and been able to do while juggling responsibilities such as full-time jobs and families.
This has been a new model for Sahana deployments - rather than waiting for a specific customer to come forward to take ownership of Sahana, we have self-deployed and I think this will be a likely successful model for the future. More and more, technology projects are stepping forward and doing good directly.
So go forth and do good.
President & CEO
Sahana Software Foundation
mark at sahanafoundation.org
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Sunday, January 17, 2010
My source: Community informatics list [ciresearchers]: