News

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

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

Sahana @ linux.conf.au

Last week I was able to attend linux.conf.au which was being hosted in my home town of Auckland. This was a great chance to spend time with people from the open source community from New Zealand, Australia and around the world.

I was part of the Open Source for Humanitarian Tech Miniconf (http://linux.conf.au/schedule/30223/view_talk?day=monday), which also included, along with Kate Chapman from the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT), Noel Taylor from Map My Rights and Chris Daley who has worked for a number of humanitarian organizations. If you’re interested, here’s a copy of my slides and a video of my presentation:

The Community Leadership Summit gave me a couple of ideas for recognizing the outstanding efforts of the our Community: Firstly I’m going to share more of the success stories which show how valuable the contributions people make to Sahana are (Watch this space!). Secondly I’ve tried to update http://eden.sahanafoundation.org/wiki/Develop to indicate the sort of contributions that are most appreciated and how they are recognized: If your code is merged into trunk – that’s a valuable contribution. If you’ve closed a ticket, updated the wiki docs, written tests for the code and helping others on the mailing list – then that’s REALLY valuable). If you’ve got other ideas, please leave a comment!

Former Sahana board member Leslie Hawthorn gave an insightful presentation on “Checking Your Privilege” (Slides / Video). After this presentation and a number of side conversation about diversity I really want to make sure that Sahana is doing everything we can to support an inclusive environment. Chamindra de Silva and Leslie Hawthorn are currently working to draft a code of conduct. Once again, if you’ve got other ideas, please leave a comment or send me an email (michael@sahanafoundation.org).

Sahana’s Ebola Response

In August the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as an international public health emergency. Although media attention to the outbreak has decreased, the number of people who have died from Ebola (6,856 to date) continues to grow.

Unlike most natural disasters where there is an initial death toll which then drops exponentially as conditions return to normal, the death toll of a disease outbreak has the risk to grow exponentially – unless we do something about it.

A number of Sahana’s existing features can be used to make the responses from organizations and communities more effective and efficient:

  • Personnel / Human Resources – to help manage the people who are fighting Ebola, (who are Time Magazine’s 2014 People of the Year ) keeping track of who is available, where they are and what skills they have.
  • Logistics Management – to track what supplies are needed, where they are available and request them for where they are needed.
  • Hospital + Health Facility Management – to manage locations including their status, capacities and requirements.
  • Who’s Doing What Where – to support coordination and collaboration between different organizations responding to the Ebola outbreak.

We’ve monitored the situation and reached out to existing partners to identify organizations wanting to deploy Sahana. We’re participating in a number of the forums organized by members of the Digital Humanitarian Network and Stand By Task Force to keep up to speed with the requirements of the international volunteer technology community.

During an emergency response we have to find the responsible balance between ensuring that organizations on the ground know how Sahana can help them and ensuring that we do not distract or interfere with their response operations. Although the greatest need for information management tools is during an emergency response, this is also when there is the least time for organizations to implement these solutions.

To showcase how Sahana could help organizations, Fran Boon set up this Sahana Demo Site: http://ebola.sahanafoundation.org/

Sahana Ebola Response Demo Site

Fran’s been working hard to import baseline location and demographic data as well as the latest data on the outbreak. This has given us the opportunity to test the new HXL protocol for data integration.

After hearing that tracing people that Ebola patients had been in contact with was a challenge, we were able to quickly develop a contact tracing and monitoring module in Sahana. This demonstrates the power of Sahana’s rapid application development (RAD) framework and our volunteer community!

For more information you can see our wiki page on the Sahana Ebola Response: http://eden.sahanafoundation.org/wiki/Deployments/Ebola

We’re connecting with numerous groups interested in using Sahana to support their Ebola response work and are currently working with groups in Sierra Leone and Liberia to identify how Sahana could be deployed there. Through careful planning and implementation these solutions can support the response to this growing crisis and sustainably improve the health care systems in these countries. We look forward to sharing more about these projects as they develop in the new year.

 

Last week I was invited by OCHA to attend the Asia Regional Business Consultation in Bangkok to be part of discussions about how to improve collaboration and better-targeted private sector support in emergencies. These were interesting conversations to be a part of as Sahana has always sought to engage a diverse range of stakeholders.

RBC Group Photo

The consultation was split into three sessions on:

  • Business – Humanitarian Partnership Hub
  • Good Practice in inclusive preparedness planning
  • Meeting immediate requirements in large-scale disasters

There was an presentation from the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDFR) about the work they have been doing, particularly after Typhoon Haiyan bring together often competing companies to fundraise and collaborate on delivering programs. For example, they have been working with Hewlett-Packard (HP) to establish two e-health centers in the affected areas.

We also heard about the work that DHL has been doing to support OCHA, both in providing logistics support in response to disasters and also in their “Get Airports Ready for Disaster” (GARD) preparedness program to increase the capacity of airports after natural disasters.

An idea was also proposed for a “Disaster Relief Exchange” to be a centralized platform to share information on supplies and needs for Agencies, suppliers, NGOs and donors. I’m already talking to the stakeholders to see if Sahana could be used to build or integrate with the platform.

One of the most interesting ideas was the idea of “Key Immediate Needs” being developed by OCHA. Based on analysis of the final Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) applications of 31 emergencies (Great use of data!) it was determined that 77% of funding was for Food, Health, Shelter/Non Food Items (NFIs) and Water Health and Sanitation (WASH).

These categories were further broken down into a list of the items that are required at the different stages of an emergency with could be provided by the private sector. This list would be a great starting point to populate data in Sahana for the items that may be requested.

Key Immediate Needs

These are still being refined further and there was some discussion about the level to which these items need to be customized to different contexts in different countries. There was also some discussion about whether it was better to think about this in terms of services needing to be provided to affected populations rather than just asking for items.

This would give a more holistic perspective and create for better engagement with the private sector and opportunities for innovative delivery of these services.

Please feel free to share any of your thought in the comments of this blog.

Like all gatherings, some of the more engaging conversations happened between the sessions. We heard that one of businesses represented at the consultation had 500,000 employees and agents in the region. This lead to a conversation about how this trusted network could be used for the dissemination and collection of information between traditional humanitarian actors and communities. This is an initial overview of how government agencies could provide hazard information such as weather warnings and tsunami alerts to businesses o help them better prepare. During the response, businesses collect information about the status and needs of their facilities, employees and communities which they are a part of. This information could be disseminated back to government agencies and traditional humanitarian actors to coordinate the response effort.

Businesses are affected by disasters as well, and have incentives to mitigate their impact and recover quickly. Larger businesses have entire Business continuity planning (BCP) teams who are responsible for managing this. Although humanitarian-business collaboration starts as a conversation with corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments, I think that if this shifted to engaged BCP teams this could lead to much more mutually beneficial collaboration.

Regardless, the first step to collaboration is sharing information, and this is something which Sahana will continue to facilitate.

Thanks to all your effort throughout our a comprehensive community planning process we now have a Strategic Plan for the next year: http://bit.ly/sahana-strategic-plan-2014-2015 . This is a high level overview:

I would like to thank the following people who contributed to the process by providing input, contributing to the discussion and feedback throughout: Devin Balkind, Fran Boon, Don Cameron, Chamindra de Silva, Ramindu Deshapriya, John Fisher, Graeme Foster, Doug Hanchard, Michael Howden, Somay Jain, Michael Joseph, Dominic König, Tim McNamara, Sandy Pabilonia, Jacqueline Parisi, Louiqa Raschid, Nuwan Waidyanatha, Martin Thomsen, Pat Tressel and Connie White.

I’m really happy to be at this point and am looking forward to the next steps we can take to move the Sahana forward. Over the next weeks my focus will be to work to moved forward:

  • Engage Potential Major Donors
  • Develop Sahana Partnership Framework
  • Establish Sahana Response Support Team
  • Prepare & Circulate Draft Sahana Local Cluster Guidelines
  • Implement Fundraising Plan

Please get in touch if you’re interested in actively contributing to move any of these forward, otherwise we will share specific opportunities to contribute as we move forward.

The Sahana Software Foundation is holding its Software Development Internship Program again this year from 13th October 2014 until 13th March 2015. This is a virtual internship and is open to applicants from any country. This program was highly successful last year, with two of the interns, Arnav Sharma and Somay Jain going on to participant in the Google Summer of Code program with the Sahana Software Foundation. If you want to learn more about the Sahana Eden work on developing solutions which help people affected by disasters then this is your chance! During the internship you will be working on a variety of tasks such as supporting deployments, fixing bugs, writing tests, porting and refactoring code and your own small projects.

This internship is for people who are interested in getting more guidance and mentoring to help them. It is only available for existing contributors to Sahana Eden, so if you are not already contributing, please look at how to get started.

As the Sahana Software Foundation is based on the voluntary contributions of our community of members, these internships are unpaid. We do offer mentoring from experienced community members, flexible working schedules, future opportunities for paid work and the opportunity to contribute to a humanitarian cause which has impacts around the world. However do not want an individual’s financial situation to exclude them from an internship opportunity, so a limited scholarship fund may be made available on a case-by-case basis. The scholarship will vary based on the individual situation of each intern.

Apply Now for this internship. Applications close 25th September 2014.

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!