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blog_01The Philippines Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS), and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) are three agencies of foremost importance. Combined they are responsible for the monitoring, detecting, and warning of key natural hazards that continue to threaten and impact the Archipelago. On average, the Islands are exposed to 20 Typhoons each year; making PAGASA a very busy agency. The ocean fault lines are almost an arms reach away that gives PHILVOLCS less than a 20-30 minutes tsunami warning horizon.

We came to learn of these fact during the ‘CAP on a Map‘ kick-off workshop. It was held at the Amihan Conference Room, at PAGASA, in Quezon City – Manila. Workshop participants represented a mix of organizations belonging to hazard detection/monitoring, alerting authorities, first-responder agencies and TV broadcasters. They participated in a few exercises intended to discuss the state of sharing alerts and warnings. PAGASA is one step a head with implementing CAP. They have worked with Google Crisis Response to publish CAP messages for public dissemination.

The Cap on a Map project, made possible through funding from UNESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness, will expand on the previous efforts to introduced all-hazard all-media and multi-agency situational-awareness approach. The workshop discussions also revealed that Filipinos are a mobile app culture with various risk information sharing apps. All of these findings are discussed in the report.

DOWNLOAD PHILIPPINES’ PROJECT KICK-OFF WORKSHOP REPORT

PAGASA_workshop_10 Discussions with the Philippines Disaster Recover Foundation (PDRF) realized the need to think of public utilities as an important partners who should be intertwined with the situational-awareness. Gas pipe explosion was a scenario discussed during one of the workshop group exercise. Water and Electricity is privatized in the Philippines; same as Telecommunications. Involving all public and private stakeholders in the design and roll-out is critical to operationalizing a functional early warning system.

At the outset the project is partnering with the PAGASA to pave the way in implementing the project in the Philippines. The implementation would deploy the SAMBRO Multi Agency Situational Awareness (MASA) platform. It is intended to improve the situational-awareness for the disaster and emergency management agencies. The knowledge mobilized through the MASA software would enhance the coordination of the response to various hazard events and incidents. CAP is the supporting piece that fosters interoperability enabling the exchange of all-hazard alert/warning with multiple agencies and the public using all available media channels. As we move forward, with the design and implementation, we will be exercising a participatory community centric approach involving all relevant institutions and administrative strata.

SahanaCamp Turkey

by Fran Boon || (0)

Turkey recently hosted the latest SahanaCamp, that magical blend of humanitarians and techie folks coming together to work on solving information management problems.

Elvan Cantekin, General Manager at the MAG Foundation has been working on this for a couple of years and thanks to funding from the European Union, he has managed to make this happen – perseverance pays off!

We were here to support SITAP (Civil Society Disaster Platform) to allow local NGOs to share information during disasters, a gap which was felt keenly during previous disasters.

The event was run very professionally, including real-time translation which made me feel like I was at the UN general assembly!

Many of the key agency stakeholders were present for the overview sessions and there was a lot of enthusiasm for sharing their data with each and also with the general public. Their IM representatives then rolled up their sleeves and got into the details of what data they wished to share with whom, they will follow this up by creating a stakeholder reference group to steer the policy and priorities of their shared site.

We were fortunate to have Mehmet Tirgil’s prior experience with Sahana to help facilitate the technical sessions as we looked at the data they had to import: reformatting where we had the fields already; adding fields where generically useful; and adding a new module for the Turkey-specific identity card details – linked, of course, to the core Person registry.

Mehmet Tirgil Presenting

A technical team has been established to customise and support both the shared instance and any individual agency instance, which a few agencies were interested in.

The team includes members from Red Crescent, Ministry of Health and Support to Life who were the most ready and keen to deploy quickly.

I look forward to seeing this community develop as we continue to work together on this important project.

The Sahana Software Foundation has deployed an instance of the Sahana Open Source Disaster Management Software server to provide a flexible solution for organizations and communities to respond to the Nepal Earthquake:

http://nepal.sahana.io/

Please contact sahana-nepal-response@sahanafoundation.org with questions or to request  support or additional features.  If you want or plan to use our software please provide some details about your organization and your specific needs. The Sahana community has also been working with the Ministry of Home Affairs National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) to support their deployment of Sahana. We hope that this will become a platform to share data that is being captured and curated by the Digital Humanitarian Network. We are also coordinating with IBM and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) who are providing support to the NEOC. If you would like to support us you can volunteer by sending a message to  sahana-nepal-response@sahanafoundation.org and / or donate here.

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
skype: michael.howden

We have been stepping up our coordination efforts and engaging with folks in Nepal and from around the world who are interested in using Sahana to support the response to this devastating earthquake.

Arun Pyasi is currently in Nepal and has been working with members  of the Free and Open Source Nepal Community to start collecting data on organizations, locations, shelters, hospitals and volunteers. Sahana Eden has excellent capabilities to manage this data and to provide accurate reports on situational awareness.

Minesh Joshi who is currently in Dallas, Texas has been supporting a team of 30 volunteers from the Nepalese Society, Texas who are on on their way to Nepal. This team will use Sahana for volunteer management and logistics, to track their volunteers and the distribution of relief supplies, and to assess future needs on the ground in Nepal.

Manish Bhattarai is in the Netherlands and is in contact with the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) to offer  support with their deployment of Sahana. He is also talking with other organizations in Nepal who are interested in using Sahana.

Fran Boon from AidIQ is currently configuring a deployment of Sahana Eden which we will host to support the ongoing needs of the people responding to the earthquake in Nepal.  Once the deployment is live it will be available to all organizations.

Based on client and user needs, we plan to customize Sahana to manage data that is currently being captured and curated by the Digital Humanitarian Network who Sahana Director, Devin Balkind is currently coordinating with. If you’d like to support this work, please joining our mailing list.

If your organization wants to use the Sahana Open Source Disaster Management Software, please contact our mailing list or email me directly.

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
skype: michael.howden

As you are probably aware a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck Nepal on 25th April causing 2,288 deaths and injuring over 5,500 people [1]. Sahana is already being used in Nepal by both the Nepal Red Cross Society and the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (for more information see the Sahana Nepal Deployments page). The Sahana Community is currently reaching out to Red Cross, National Emergency Operation Center and other partners in Nepal to see how we can help.

If you are actively involved in the response and recovery efforts and are interested in using the Sahana Open Source Disaster Management Software, please contact our mailing list or email me directly.

Through generous offers of donations from Terri Pond, Louiqa Raschid and Sahana Directors Brent Woodworth and Nuwan Waidyanatha the Sahana Software Foundation are able to provided dedicated remote and on-the-ground support as needed to complement any voluntary response from the community.

While we are waiting to hear the specific needs from partners, if you would like to help, you can familiarize yourself with the Sahana software. If you are currently in Nepal and want to help with Sahana, the best thing that you can currently do is to get in touch with local volunteer and community groups and organizations. There is a huge response and recovery effort which you can help with. By working with these organizations you will get an idea of what information needs to be shared (which typically starts with Excel spreadsheets!). This could help identify gaps which Sahana can fill!

You could also help out with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s efforts to map the areas affected by the earthquake - as Sahana uses these base maps.

I will post further updates as the situation develops.

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
michael@sahanafoundation.org
skype: michael.howden
twitter:@michaelhowden
Maldives Villingilli Island

Maldives Villingilli Island

A workshop and set of meetings (April 15 & 16, 2015) took place in the capitol city Male in the Maldives. It was an event of the CAP on a Map kickoff in the Maldives. The project aims to improve the institutional responsiveness to all-hazards. The workshop and meeting, serving as a platform to initiate the project in the Maldives, was organized by the project counterpart the National Disaster Management Center (NDMC) of the Government of Maldives.

DOWNLOAD MALDIVES WORKSHOP REPORT

An important expectation of the workshop was to convince the existing disaster management technical committee of the emergency coordination efficiency gains and incremental effectiveness the project, once implemented, would offer. A large number of the technical committee members were present at the workshop. They agreed to serve as the CAP working group, with oversight and support the CAP-enabled Sahana Alerting and Messaging Broker (SAMBRO) implementation. The report outlines six points the the technical committee should support and lobby for establish a platform for Multi Agency Situational Awareness.

The Island country is frequently challenged with windstorms, wave swells, floods, water outage, earthquakes and maritime accidents. Tsunami and Cyclones are less frequent but possess great threats. The maritime vessels are mandated to be equipped with VHF communications. However, some private smaller boats rely on cellular phones. Island are interconnected to optimize on network downtime. However, there are many shadow areas that require alternate satellite based communications.

Maldives Meteorological Services Meeting with Officials

Maldives Meteorological Services Meeting with Officials

Two meetings followed the workshop on the second day. First was with NDMC (Honourable State Minister Mr. Mohamed Zuhair, Honourable Deputy Minister Mrs. Fathimath Thasneem, and Project Director: Mr. Hisan Hassan) . Second was with the Maldives Meteorological Service (MMS) officials. The two main organizations: NDMC and MMS agreed to support the CAP-enabled SAMBRO implementation. They are interested in the efficiency gains with interoperability and automating alerting/warning. At present MMS incorporates several modes of communication involving telephone calls and text-messaging. Other authorities such as the Maldives Disaster Response Force (MDRF) use VHF radios along with mobile phones. All which can be integrated for disseminating the single entry of a CAP message to multiple agencies and recipients.

Participants, during a SWOT analysis of implementing CAP on a Map project, recognized the importance of Sahana software being open source and customizable serving emergency coordination. They had misinterpreted that Sahana system interdependent on the Internet. A Sahana installation on a laptop directly connected to a GSM modem disseminating SMS, is an example of a non-Internet dependent solution. It is important that NDMC, possibly in consultation with Communications Authority of Maldives and Ministry of Broadcast, determine the necessary and sufficient technologies to cover all Atolls and Island. Other discussions were on the needs for of building institutional capacity. The software will offer agencies with a common operating picture to coordinate and respond to any emergency by exchanging near-real-time CAP feeds.

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The Sahana Software Foundation has actively taken part in the Google Code-In programme since its inception in 2010 and 2014′s programme was no exception as Sahana was once again among the 12 open source organizations selected to mentor students for Code-In.

From November 2014 to January 2015, students completed a whopping total of 173 tasks for Sahana, with 75 students completing at least one task. Sahana Eden gained a great amount of useful code from bugfixes to the completion of “@ToDo”s throughout the code, while the Sahana gained a sizable amount of useful PR material and documentation. The students who worked on each task mostly did a commendable job, with some students showing exceptional capabilities, showing that age is not a barrier to working with open source software.

We take special pride in hosting Google Code-In as the return we can provide for our students in terms of satisfaction is very high, as our young students know that their code might very well get used in the next deployment of Sahana Eden, which could directly lead to saving lives during a terrible disaster.

Each organization mentoring GCI 2014 select 2 Grand Prize Winners, 1 Backup Prize Winner and 2 Finalists at the end of the programme, and these students were awarded prizes by Google. The winners for the SSF’s GCI 2014 are:

  • Grand Prize Winners: Anurag Sharma, Samsruti Dash
  • Backup Prize Winner: Sai Vineet
  • Finalists: Vipul Sharma, David Greydanus

We extend our thanks to all our students, for their wonderful commitment and for everything they brought to this organization. We hope they will continue to work with us with same conviction and dedication they showed during GCI. A special thanks to all our mentors as well for all the hard work they put in for the duration of GCI 2014.

March Update

It’s been a busy start to the year with lots going on in the Sahana.

There’s been some great voluntary contributions over the past months. Tom Baker has been making some great progress extending continuing his work developing a Sahana Mobile App. Adhitya Kamakshidasan has been tackling some tricky problems around request management and vehicle routing. We’ve also had Allen Chen and Anand Chandrasekar  from North Carolina State University start to work on a project improving Sahana’s mapping. A team from Development Solutions Organization lead by Elizabeth Li is interested in helping to develop user stories, personas and scenarios and work with the Sahana Community to improve the design of our default deployment template. Finally thank you to Fran Boon from AidIQ for his tireless efforts continuing to maintain and develop Sahana,  the support they give to all contributors and their reviews of code contributions to keep our code in good space!

The Google Code In program finished in January, during which high school students completed 173 small tasks to support Sahana. Congratulations to the Sahana Grand Prize Winners: Anurag Sharma and Samsruti Dash – thank you for all the contributions you made to Sahana. Thank you also to Ramindu Deshapriya and Pat Tressel who lead Sahana’s support during the program, not to mention all the other mentors.

On the governance level, there’ve been some developments. Our bylaws have been changed to open up a seat on the board to be elected by the membership at each annual meeting. We’re going through a process to develop guidelines around board roles and responsibilities to support our board to operate at full capacity.

We’ve also established an Executive Advisory Committee to engage more people to help support the Sahana Software Foundation. The initial members of this committee are Paul Currion, David Dworin and Jacqueline Parisi and their role is to provide advice on strategic issues and networking opportunities.  Please get in touch with me if you’re interested in joining this committee or if there is anything you wanted their support with.

Nuwan Waidyanatha has developed a fantastic partnership between the Sahana Software Foundation, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to implement the CAP-on-a-Map, supporting the use of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) in the Maldives and the Philippines.  This project will be delivered by Spot-On Solutions and AidIQ.

My efforts have been focused on developing new partnerships and preparing proposals. I have had productive conversations with HDX, ACAPS, Philippines Disaster Recovery Foundation, San Francisco Neighborhood Empowerment Network, Wellington Regional Emergency Management OfficeJesuit Refugee Service, FEMA and the University of Sydney. I’ll share more as these conversations lead to collaboration with Sahana. Sahana is in the process of joining the Digital Humanitarian Network, which will hopefully create more opportunities for us. Unfortunately our application for the Rockefeller Global Resilience Partnership was not accepted, however we’re still waiting to hear back about the Knight Foundation Prototype Fund. We are also expecting work on the next phases of both the Los Angeles Community Resilience Mapping Tool and Puget Sound Maritime Common Operating Picture Project to be starting shortly.

I’ve put together a collection of brochure and presentation resources which you can check out here. Please feel free to download, share and use these!

It would be great to hear about what you’ve been up to with Sahana.

Cheers

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
michael@sahanafoundation.org
twitter:@michaelhowden

Sahana This Week

It’s a busy week for Sahana around the world!

Fran Boon, the Technical Lead for the Sahana software project, delivering a SahanaCamp training workshop for the Civil Society Disaster Platform, a coalition of disaster management organizations in Turkey. This workshop has been organized by MAG Foundation in close partnership with Sahana. It will include a introduction meeting for decision makers, a user workshop to explore the features needed for Sahana in Turkey and a technical training for local developers to build their capacity so that they can support Sahana. For more information see: http://sitap.org/sahana-eden-egitimlerine-kayitlar-basladi/ (In Turkish).

I’m currently in Sydney, Australia and will be presenting Sahana to both the Interoperability for Extreme Events Research Group (IEERG) at the University of Sydney and the New South Wales Government (Emergency Information Coordination Unit). These meetings are a great chance to share the work we’ve been doing around the world, hear about what others are doing and create opportunities to collaborate with new partners.

Get in touch if you’re up to anything with Sahana that you’d to share with the rest of the community.

Cheers

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
michael@sahanafoundation.org
twitter:@michaelhowden

There’s a lot of similarities  between traditional disaster management organizations and volunteer technical communities such as Sahana’s – especially when you look at our operations from a information management perspective. We collaborate on projects with partner organization, often breaking the work down into tasks that are worked on by numerous people. For this reason we’ve been experimenting with using Sahana as the Sahana Sunflower: Community Portal to coordinate between all the contributors to our community, managing both the technical and and non-technical tasks across multiple projects and showcasing Sahana deployments around the world. Not only does this give us a valuable tool, but it’s an opportunity to Eat Our Own Dog Food – to be put in the user’s seat, to be confronted with things that can be improved and to make those improvements which can benefit users of all Sahana deployments.

Sunflower is an ongoing development. Hitesh Sharma has been working on this throughout his internship with Sahana and I hope that we will have someone working on it during the  2015 Google Summer of Code Program. Here are the full Blue Prints for what is planned. Get in touch if you’re keen to contribute.

Sahana isn’t the only volunteer technical community community needed a coordination platform . I’ve recently had conversations with Helen Campbell and Roxanne Moore from the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). They’ve been doing great work leveraging digital networks for humanitarian response. To support their work they’ve developed a number of spreadsheet based tool, which track partner organizations, contacts, events, tasking, data sources and needs.

There’s lot of good things about spreadsheets: they’re easy to use, they’re flexible, they’re easy to change and can evolve very organically, they model very closely to a physical representation of data (a table on a piece of paper). But they have their limitations too: at a certain point they get too big to easily use (try printing a 30 column spreadsheet on one page!), they don’t show all the relationships between data, making reports/visualizations/maps can be tricky, they don’t support information management over workflows.

Helen and Roxanne both recognize the opportunity to implement a better solution and DHN are still going through their discovery process for this. I think it would be great for them to use Sahana to as their coordination platform. It would give DHN a better (open source) tool to manage their information and support workflows. It would help to have a bunch more tech-saavy people using the Sahana platform, suggesting improvements, piloting new features and maybe even becoming contributors. But most importantly it would mean that when a disaster management organization comes along needing a platform to manage their own operations, we have a mature, usable, open source solution that we’re all familiar with using to recommend: Sahana.