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One of the priorities for the Sahana Software Foundation is to find out where the community wants to take Sahana over the next years and support the development of a strategic plan to guide us together on this journey. A strategic plan will help to communicate priority goals for volunteers to choose to work on or, if we decide, to help us develop funding proposals to get more resources. We have already run strategic planning exercises with the Board and the community in Sri Lanka which have been used to prepare the outline for a Sahana Strategic Plan.

Please feel free to review and contribute your input to the Sahana Strategic Plan document.

With consultation of a number of community members I’ve put together a process and schedule for finalizing the Strategic Plan over the next weeks:

  • Finalize the Mission Statement & Vision (by 15 Aug)
  • Identify & Prioritize Goals for the next year (by 29 Aug)
  • Develop Strategic Plan and determine next steps (by 13 Sept)

Developing this plan will be an open process and everyone is welcome to participate in any of the follow ways:

In additional, I’ll be hosting a number of optional Virtual Meetings over the next weeks focused on the steps. Notes will be taken in all of these meetings and no decisions will be made during them – so don’t worry if you can’t make them:

  • Mission Statement & Vision – 11 Aug 2014 0900 UTC & 2100 UTC
  • Goals – 25 Aug 2014 0900 UTC & 2100 UTC
  • Strategic Plan – 8 Sept 2014 0900 UTC & 2100 UTC

Details to join these meetings can be found in the Sahana Strategic Plan document or on the Sahana Meeting Calendar

Please let me know if you have any questions otherwise I look forward to seeing our strategic plan emerge from everyone’s input!

Hello All,

It is my great honor to have been selected as the Chief Executive Officer of the Sahana Software Foundation. The Sahana Software Foundation is an amazing organization with a very rich history. I have to thank both Mark Prutsalis, who has lead Sahana over the past 5 years, all of the volunteers who originally developed Sahana in Sri Lanka, and those who have continued to improve it since. I am really looking forward to working with and supporting our diverse community of contributors in our shared mission to use information management solution to help people affected by disasters. Over the next months, I will be reaching out to everyone in our community to understand how we can best do this.

I have been using technology to support disaster management for almost 10 years since I started volunteering with an NGO working on the Tsunami Recovery Program in Indonesia. This soon took me to remote field offices Pakistan and Uganda training staff to use the simple logistics database I had developed.

Five years ago, I co-founded AidIQ to “help provide intelligent business solutions to the development community.” We chose Sahana as the software platform to do this. Through my work with AidIQ I have supported Sahana solutions for the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UNDP, Los Angeles Emergency Management Department and the Governments of Timor Leste, Nepal and the Philippines.

I will be stepping down as a Director of AidIQ and handing over my responsibilities as Managing Director of AidIQ to Fran Boon. As a founder and director of AidIQ, I bring significant experience in creating a sustainable business doing good in the world with Sahana software. I will leverage this experience during my time as CEO to increase the diversity of the Sahana ecosystem, particularly to support more service providers to build Sahana solutions. To ensure that all users of Sahana get the support they need, I will continue my relationship with AidIQ as a consultant. We are still planning the details of this and welcome any input from the community.

I’m excited to have the opportunity to continue this work as the CEO of the Sahana Software Foundation and look forward to supporting the ongoing development of our software and promoting it around the world. I’m also committed to working to bring the community together behind a shared plan for how we can best achieve our mission. We’ve gotten to this stage through the power of our community’s passions, and retaining and building that joy in collaboration will be an integral part of our success in using information management solution to help people affected by disasters.

It’s going to be an exciting couple of months as we work together to plan our next steps – if you’re interested in getting involved, have ideas to help us in our mission or anything else you would like to discuss, please get in touch. We’ll also be launching a strategic planning process within the next weeks – so watch this space!

I’m still going to be based in New Zealand and am going to start having regular “office hours” every Monday 2100 UTC and Thursday 0400 UTC when I will be available on IRC, Skype and Google+ for anyone who’d like to talk.

Cheers

Michael Howden
CEO, Sahana Software Foundation
michael@sahanafoundation.org
skype: michael.howden
+64 (21) 126-1360
+1 (213) 261-4250
twitter:@michaelhowden

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.

Sincerely,
Martin Thomsen
Chair

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.

Sincerely,
Martin Thomsen
Chair

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

 

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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 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.

The first day of the Sahana Barcamp was held at the WSO2 office. It was a really cool place and seemed to have good work culture ( They had a drum kit and guitar in cafeteria. That made my day :D )

We started the Bar Camp off with planning the sessions, removing clashes and in few minutes the barcamp grid was filled with stickies mentioning the agenda of the sessions.

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Arnav, fellow GSoC intern planning Barcamp sessions

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Removing clashes between sessions, because everyone wanted to attend everyone’s session (yeah they were so exciting) :D

There was a session on debugging using Eclipse and Firebug tool by Fran Boon, the lead developer of Sahana Eden. This was really useful for us as he explained what breakpoints are and how to use them.

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Fran Boon leading the session of debugging using Eclipse and Firebug

I was also hosting a session on ” Crisis Maps”. For my session we had Dr. Lutz Frommberger from Capacity Lab and Eula from LaSalle University, they had experience in GIS and Field Training respectively. They gave in great inputs and Dr. Lutz also showed us a mobile form UI for incident reporting which was reporting in few clicks through pictures and sliders.

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Crisis Map brainstorming

After this there was a session by Somay, fellow Google Summer of Code intern. He presented his project Sunflower. It’s a great tool which will be deployed soon with functionalities which are important for tracking tasks and volunteers of any organization.

This was followed by a session on Google Summer of Code and how to improve the experience. Our mentors asked us to be be very open. We had a productive discussion and we are taking back the key learnings with us :)

After this last session we headed to the WSO2 sports bay for some TT and foosball :)

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{ Hack, Code, Play, Sleep }.repeat() :D

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.

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.

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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 ;)

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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.