Sahana Software Foundation is pleased to announce Michael Howden will be the organisation’s next Chief Executive Officer.

Michael served as Managing Director of AidIQ from 2009-2014, and since 2012, as a member of the Board of Directors in Sahana Software Foundation.

This is an exciting moment for the organisation. I have already had the opportunity to work with Michael for some years, both at the time where he was a board member and as secretary of the foundation. Every one of us at the organisation are thrilled about that we after a few months of deliberation have been able to turn to Michael Howden as our ideal successor.

Michael has already assumed his new post on 23rd June 2014 following the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors.

Martin Thomsen

It is with great pleasure that I can announce, that Sahana Software Foundation effective 23rd June 2014, reconstituted the Board of Directors, following the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors.

I am especially pleased that we can congratulate Chamindra de Silva and Brent Woodworth back on the Board of Directors. I look forward to our continuous cooperation at the board, as we take further steps in direction of developing Sahana Software Foundation to live up to its mission.

On behalf of the Foundation, I will also like to warmly thank Past Board Director Louiqa Raschid for her outstanding leadership and determination as the Chair of the Sahana Board from 2007 to 2009, and her true commitment and dedication to the function as Treasurer and Chairman of the Financial Oversight Committee the past 5 years; just to mention a few of all the things Louiqa have contributed with. We are so fortunate that Louiqa has promised to stay engaged with Sahana. We warmly thank Louiqa and wish her all the best.

I will also like to warmly thank Past Board Director Leslie Hawthorn for her commitment to work for Sahana. As some of you might remember, Leslie has been a strong supporter of Sahana for years. She has run the Google Summer of Code Program for Google as their Open Source Programs Manager, helped us to move our infrastructure over to Oregon State University Open Source Lab (OSUOSL), and has also supported our community development initiatives. Unfortunately Leslie has to concentrate on other projects which she feels will not do justice to Sahana. We warmly thank Leslie and wish her all the best.

Martin Thomsen

I have been associated with Sahana Software Foundation since October, 2013, first as a volunteer contributor, then as a Sahana intern for four months and since April as a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) intern.

Sahana Software Foundation held its SahanaCamp and Sahana Conference in conjunction with the Indian Ocean Tsunami 10th (IOTX) Anniversary convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 18th-22nd June. So, when Michael Howden sent out an invitation mail to the community for the events, I was quick to accept it. Luckily, Google being the big hearted supporter of Open Source, decided to fund  Somay Jain, Mayank Jain, Arnav Agrawal, Gaurav Narula, Hemant Singh and I, Arnav Sharma to attend.

Our week began on 15th of June when we had the Sahana Strategic Planning Session. It was here where we met other community members like Fran Boon, Dominic König, Michael Howden, Ramindu Deshapriya, Chamindra de Silva, Nuwan Waidyanatha, Louiqa Raschid and others. It was fascinating to meet and spend some good time with them.

Our normal schedule was to report at the venue (Virtusa) at 9:30 (we were always running late. Why?), work till 6 and then socialize for the rest of the evening and night (that’s why!). The work was blissful. We were as involved in the discussion as any other member who has been working with Sahana since its inception. That is another plus of contributing to Open Source, that your views get heard and hold value (as long as they have any).

What I did?

  • Gave a demonstration on Timor-Leste Disaster Information System,
  • Learnt about Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)
  • Squished a bug with Dominic in the CAP codefest
  • Participated in the Sahana BarCamp & Sahana Strategic Planning Session
  • Gave a session in the BarCamp on my GSoC project

What I learnt?

Overall, I learnt about Sahana, its history, its deployments, its members and its aims and objectives. Also, I gained more clarity about the future path and aim of my GSoC project, mostly because of Dominic. The BarCamp sessions about debugging, deployments and other GSoC projects were insightful.

Open Source is nothing but a few people with a common goal working together for the betterment of a community by developing software. This, I saw in person and this will stick with me for the rest of my life.

We had a great Meetup  this week with 15 people – 10 in Sri Lanka and 5 joining virtually. We started off together, and then split into a virtual group and a on-location group before reporting back together at the end.

We were lucky to have Preeti Jha from UNDP to share the work she’s been doing on her deployment of Sahana in Nepal and Viraj from World Vision talk about their plans to explore Sahana.

Here are some of the links that were shared if you want to find out more:

We’ve planned the next meetup at 4pm IST, 16th July. And will have a more focused agenda, with training to learn more about coding with Sahana and guidance to start working on some smaller tasks – hopefully to help Preeti upgrade her instance of Sahana! Looking forward to “seeing” you then. For more details and to sign up see the Sahana MeetUp – Colombo, Sri Lanka + Virtual Facebook Event

Thanks to Chamindra de Silva and Ramindu Deshapriya for organizing,  Virtusa for providing the venue in Colombo and Cisco for providing the virtual venue with a free WebEx account!

Virtual Participation


The CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) Code-Fest  was the hacker’s day of the week ( Everybody was plugged in, with coffee beside every laptop :D )
CAP is a XML based data format which is used to send warnings, alerts and other important data during emergencies. This allows the disaster and risk management tools and other tools used during emergencies to collect and interpret data from various different sources. For more on CAP see Wikipedia : CAP and CAP Cookbook

First we had an introduction to CAP protocol for everyone. We also came to know some amazing facts, like during an emergency, ads on a many websites change to alerts and CAP plays a key role in this. I hope other major portals adopt to this strategy soon.


We also had some students from colleges in Colombo who were very excited for learning and contributing to Sahana Eden. Fran and Dominic, the key developers of Sahana Eden had created a CAP template for this event. The amazing thing was they prepared it in nearly 4 hours and it had all the features required. This shows the low-development-time-quick-deployment feature of Sahana which is important for emergency situations.

After a interactive introductory session on CAP we had the green signal of “Let the hacking begin…” :D and off we went developing new features for the CAP Template. After few hours of struggling with some errors, I developed a feature where the color of markers on the map change depending on the priority of that marked situation.

After an exciting day full of hacking, coding, coffee, errors, tickets\ we headed off to check out beach and restaurants of Mount Lavinia, a mile long golden beach named after the lover of Governor of Ceylon of 18th Century and also known to have treasure hidden somewhere ;)


Thank you to the Sahana Software Foundation and Google for supporting me to attended the Sri Lanka IOTX Sahana Events in the beautiful capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo.

IOTX Sri Lanka : SahanaCamp was a participatory workshop on the use of Disaster Management Information Systems with a focus on the Sahana Open Source Disaster Management Information System. It gave participants

  • An introduction to real-world Sahana disaster management solutions
  • Hands on experience using Sahana to manage information and make decisions in a disaster simulation.
  • Analysis of how disaster management information systems could be used in your organisation

The SahanaCamp was opened by Mr. William Weinstein, Deputy Chief of mission for the US in Sri Lanka as the chief guest.


His keynote speech was followed by a talk on history of Sahana by Mr. Chamindra De Silva. He has been one of the key person in the development of Sahana and has been involved since the beginning. We came to know about the various phases in the evolution of Sahana.


Michael Howden from the Sahana Software Foundation gave a session on various deployments of Sahana all around the world.

These morning sessions were really insightful in the role Sahana has been playing in disaster management around the world. They made me feel great to be part of this organisation :)

We also had demonstrations of various deployments of Sahana. I was presenting Los Angeles Community Resilience Mapping Tool (LACRMT). The tool was developed by the Sahana Software Foundation in collaboration with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and RAND corporation. The purpose is to prepare people and organisations of Los Angeles for assessing and responding to any kind of disaster or social disturbance using data and maps. One of the key aim is also to ensure that the community bounces back to its normal social and economic state as soon as possible. The demographic data for the tool is taken and constantly updated from US census and hazard data is from USGS.


Dominic explaining features of Sahana Eden at the Sahana Camp demo

The highlight of the day was a session by Michael Howden on using Sahana Eden. It was attended by people from organisations involved in disaster and risk management like Red Cross Society. Me and my fellow Google Summer of Code  interns were helping out Michael. Being a developer for Sahana Eden, it was insightful for me to observe people using it. As most of them were new to the software, so we got some ideas of improvement but most of them were able to quickly navigate through the features. After session everyone gave a very positive feedback and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society guys I was helping out, they were delighted with the mapping tool.




Michael getting feedback from participants from Sri Lanka Red Cross Foundation

Thank you to the Sahana Software Foundation and Google for supporting me to attended the Sri Lanka IOTX Sahana Events in the beautiful capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo.

I am happy to announce that Sahana Strategic Planning Workshop was conducted on 15 June 2014 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The workshop was attended by many members of the Sahana Software Foundation as well as some of the GSOC interns.

Sahana Team at Sahana Strategic Workshop


We kicked off workshop started with an ice breaker activity which got us thinking about how a disaster could affect us and various stakeholders who would be involved. There were discussions about meaning of Sahana for the community members as well as end users. We debated some of the ideas behind Sahana which helped gain insight into Sahana Software Foundation in its present state.

Sahana Strategic Planning Workshop in Progress

Various discussions ranged from SWOT( Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)  to the Vision for Sahana in the upcoming years. Various actions that need to be worked upon to improve the organization as a whole were discussed such as Sahana Sunflower, Sahana Eden 1.0 release and Sahana website.

Personally, the day had a huge importance for me since I could actually get better insights into the working of Sahana Software Foundation , being able to interact with the people I work with helped me to understand the community even better.

I would really like to thank Virtusa for hosting the event as well as Google and AidIQ for helping to cover the costs to get us there.

The Sahana Software Foundation is excited to invite participants for our upcoming SahanaCamp and Sahana Conference to be held in conjunction with the  Indian Ocean Tsunami 10th (IOTX) Anniversary convention in Colombo Sri Lanka between 18-22nd June.

Registration is open now:


SahanaCamp Vietnam

SahanaCamp Vietnam

SahanaCamp will be a participatory workshop on the Sahana Disaster Management Information System. As a SahanaCamp IOTX participants you will:

  • Be introduced to real-world Sahana disaster management solutions

  • Get hands on experience using Sahana to manage information, gain situational awareness and make decisions in a disaster simulation.

  • Analyse of how Sahana could be used in your organisation

SahanaCamp Taiwan

SahanaCamp Taiwan

SahanaCamp is aimed at people working for a disaster management agencies and organizations or those involved in disaster management research. The Sahana Software Foundation has delivered SahanaCamp workshops in India, Vietnam, Lisbon, USA and Taiwan. They are opportunities to connect with other regional experts and share from the international experience of the Sahana Team.

Register Now!

Sahana Conference

The Sahana Conference will combine the Sahana Software Foundation’s Annual General Meeting with community lead BarCamp sessions and social activities. This will be a is an time for member of the Sahana community to gathering together to collaborate, sharing experiences & ideas and plan ways to improve Sahana.

The Social activities will involve an exciting boat safari through the breathtaking marshlands of the Madu River, a tour of cinnamon production, which originated in Sri Lanka and a zoo where you will have the chance to meet ‘Doctor Fish’ that nibble at ankles and to pet and a live baby crocodiles!

For more information got to or Register Now!

Other IOTX Events

SahanaCamp and Sahana Conference are both part of the IOTX Conference which includes a range of other events, including a CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) Codefest and the DRR Public Lecture. For more details please see:

Michael Howden
Director, Sahana Software Foundation

The Sahana Software Foundation is proud to announce the eleven recipients of the 2014 Google Summer of Code internships with the Sahana Eden and Vesuvius Projects.


Competition for these slots was very high. We received many proposals including several from students who were already actively contributing code and ideas to the Sahana Software Foundation, or who had participated with Sahana in the Google Summer of Code last year. The quality of the proposal, student expertise and prior engagement, and the the potential payoff from a successful project were considered in making our selections. Many thanks to Michael Howden who will be coordinating the six students working on Sahana Eden and to Ramindu Deshapriya who will be coordinating the five students working on Sahana Vesuvius. This is the tenth year that Google has operated the Summer of Code and the ninth year that Sahana has been a part of this program. Many former students have moved on to become core developers as well as Sahana Software Foundation members and leadership.

2014 Sahana GSOC Internship Recipients:

This list is in alphabetical order by last/family name.
The first mentor listed is the primary technical mentor for the project. Other mentors listed are supporting, backup or domain mentors.

Chat In Sahana Eden
An efficient and secure chat implementation which is integrated into Sahana Eden.
Arnav Kumar Agrawal
Mentor: Graeme Foster

(Completion of) Vesuvius-Kilauea Merge
Sahana Kilauea is a product used in conjunction with Sahana Mayon by the City of New York. Since Mayon is a variant of Vesuvius, this project will merge modules from Kilauea in to the Vesuvius codebase to create a single product. This project was initiated as part of GSoC 2013.
Kaushika Rukshan Athukorala
Mentor: Yasitha Pandithawatta

Vesuvius Installer (Completion)
Complete a Vesuvius Installer module which will help users to configure Vesuvius without manually editing configurations files and creating initial databases from the back end.
Chanaka Dharmarathna
Mentor: Ramindu Deshapriya

Import Wizard for Missing and Found Persons
During disaster events, data is managed in many different formats predominantly spreadsheets. This project will create an import wizard for Vesuvius that will be able to import missing person structured data from such sources.
Mayank Jain
Mentors: Glenn Pearson and Greg Miernicki

Sahana Sunflower
Implement Sahana Sunflower as a Sahana Eden template that will be used by the Sahana Software Foundation (SSF) as a community management and coordination tool.
Somay Jain
Mentor: Michael Howden

GIS Module for Sahana DMU in Sri Lanka
Geographic information systems (GIS) are a vital capability for disaster management. This project will provide GIS interoperability with the Disaster Management Unit in Sri Lanka.
Milindu Sanoj Kumarage
Mentor: Ramindu Deshapriya and Roshan Hewapathirana

Enhancing the Sahana Eden CAP broker for Multi-agency Situational Awareness
Enhancing the Sahana Eden CAP broker for multi-agency situational awareness. Fixing previous issues and adding several other important features.
Ambar Mehrotra
Mentor: Pat Tressel

Deployment Tools for Sahana Eden
The aim of the project is to implement an application using Eden which makes it easier to deploy instances of Sahana Eden remotely on Amazon EC2 instances or Generic Linux Servers. The app may be used by deployers locally to create new deployments and may further be evolved to be used as a co-app that may be deployed along with the Eden instance to allow its configuration using a Web UI.
Gaurav Narula
Mentor: Fran Boon

Functional test suite using a robot framework
Create an automated testing suite using a robot framework which is configurable, easy to write, easy to maintain and provides detailed logs and reports.
Arnav Sharma
Mentor: Dominic König

Crisis Map on the Sahana Eden Platform
Develop a template for Eden to be used as a Crisis Mapping Platform, to allow incidents and related information to be mapped, and to develop Timeplay as an S3FilterWidget.
Hemant Kumar Singh
Mentor: Fran Boon

Deploying Vesuvius on Android Devices
Create an Android app to deploy a Vesuvius instance on the mobile device without the need for configuration. The instance can be accessed by any other Wi-Fi enabled device via a Wi-Fi hotspot created by the same device. Provide a mobile friendly theme for Vesuvius.
Viduranga Wijesooriya
Mentor: Akila Ravihansa Perera

High level technical diagram for mobile pictograph alerting

High level technical diagram for mobile pictograph alerting

Almost one year ago, I had presented a concept on the use of “pictographs in alerting” and shared the evidence for the growing need for such an initiative. This was at the 2013 CAP Implementation Workshop in Geneva. The real need was to aid the linguistically challenged: tourist in a foreign country and illiterate. Moreover, it would remove the need to for messaging in multiple languages; especially in countries that are home to a multitude of races and languages.

Although the design was prescribed for mobile phones, given it’s worldwide penetration over PCs, it does not differentiate between internet (data) or voice (SMS, Cell-broadcast) channels, it is adaptive. The idea is to use predefined EDXL-CAP elements to trigger the appropriate message. The message would indicate the urgency, severity, certainty, and event. However, the entire message is based on a set of logic determined by a larger set of EDXL-CAP elements.

The Federation of Internet Alerts (FIA) is a newly formed consortium that is collectively addressing those risk information presentation issues.  They are namely a group of public and private partners with a strong business inclination towards adverting. While was one of the pioneers to work with alerts in the advertising space, others such as ValueClick are also contributing to the initiative. They all have good intentions, namely with opening up their resources to alerting authorities to disseminate warnings.

FIA is currently in the process of standardizing how an alert message should be presented to an audience. Although CAP is a content standard, it does not address how the information should be presented. As my colleague: Eliot Christian (Special Scientific Adviser to WMO), authoring the standardization guidelines, states: “the need for FIA messaging guidelines in the presentation of public warnings arises because different online media will be presenting warnings across overlapping audiences. That means people online could receive inconsistent presentations of warnings for the same event. Inconsistent presentation of warnings can be confusing, and confusion is dangerous in life-threatening situations.” I am currently reviewing their first paper on the guidelines.