News

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!

The Sahana Vesuvius project has moved its repository from Launchpad to Github. This decision was universally supported by the Vesuvius community. See this blog post for more information about the migration process. More information about instructions for developers to migrate to Git are available on the GitHub Wiki page.

 

Sahana News January 2014

Happy New Year!  It was a busy month of December (and beginning of January) with the ongoing response to Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, the Google Code-In, a SahanaCamp in Thailand, and hopefully, everyone had some time off with family and friends to celebrate whatever one celebrates at the end of the year.  I know I did.

The past December 26th marked the 9th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami…. a horrific event that gave birth to the idea of using open source tools to help the survivors of disaster… and by that I mean Sahana.  This June in Sri Lanka, there will be a weeklong series of meetings and conferences to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this event.  Planning is well underway; I hope you can be with us for the OASIS CAP Workshop, ISCRAM Asia Conference, Sahana Annual Meeting and a SahanaCamp / Bar Camp / Workshop (exact monikers are still being debated) in Sri Lanka this June.

Recent News and Announcements

Google Code-In.  The 2013 Google Code-In concluded this month.  We had 36 students complete 153 tasks.  A great job was done by our entire mentoring team as always – providing the students with helpful advice and direction as they learn to contribute meaningfully to an open source project – as well as our first time admins Ramindu Deshapriya and Vishrut Mehta who did a lot of hard and thankless work behind the scenes to make sure the program ran smoothly as always.  Thanks also to the participants who assisted us greatly on closing tickets and other tasks on our existing to do lists.  Our grand prize winners were announced this past Monday by Google: Congratulations to Akshaykumar Kalose from the United States and Anurag Sharma from India.

SahanaCamp@AIT Thailand December 16-17.  SSF Director Nuwan Waidyanatha facilitated a 2-day SahanaCamp as part of a three week course at the Geoinformatics Center attached to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) based in Thailand.  On day one, the SahanaCamp introduced participants to Sahana Eden’s Community Resilience and Vulnerability Mapping tools with hands-on exercises that helped them realize how additional GIS layers such as census data and assets (e.g. buildings) data can be overstayed with the hazard maps to determine the communities level of risk.  The second day of the SahanaCamp exposed them to Sahana-based alerting/warning (i.e. Sahana CAP-enabled Alerting and Messaging Broker) and situational-reporting (i.e. Sahana Incident Reporting System) tools.  Read more about it here: SahanaCamp at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.

Updates to Website:  SSF Communications intern Hannah Schwartz, SSF Director Devin Balkind and I have been working on reorganizing the content of our website with a two-phase plan that will initially update some of the content of the website, reorganize some pages and menus, and give a quick makeover to the homepage.  You will notice some of these changes already on our site (I hope… hint… look for fewer options on the top level menu and wider content columns inside the front page… also check out the new deployments page and of course the reorganization of our home page).

In the long term, we’ll be looking to get a designer to update our theme and add some features that will make the site more useful to everyone – potential customers/users, sponsors, new contributors and our existing community.  As part of this process, we’ll be looking to link and embed certain information from documents and spreadsheets in the Foundation’s Google Drive folders – where they will be more easily accessible and able to be updated, as well as the long-awaited for Sahana Sunflower site that will serve as a repository of foundation records and information and provide a hands-on tool for Sahana Eden developers to work with.

Deprecating the Wiki:  As part of the effort to move more of our content to be more accessible via the SSF website and through Google Drive folders, it has become apparent that there is not much remaining value in continuing to try to maintain the main Sahana Software Foundation wiki for this purpose.  Without technical or admin support for dokuwiki, this resource has been foundering for a while.  It is used mostly for Google Summer of Code pages and as a repository of official Foundation records; that content can easily be moved to Google Drive documents and folders.  Once these records are moved, we plan on disabling future edits to most of the namespaces, while leaving the wiki up as a historic resource and archive.  However, we recognize that the Vesuvius project also uses the wiki, so they will have to decide where they want to move their wiki… or if they want to take over support for dokuwiki to serve their project needs.

Project Updates

The Sahana Software Foundation will be beginning/continuing work on a number of projects early this year:

Los Angeles Community Resilience Mapping Portal.  Year two of this project will see us working with 8 community coalitions in Los Angeles County to help them add and edit data within this Sahana Eden based system while we add new features and enhancements based on a user evaluation to take place in the Spring.

MCOP Puget Sound.  We’ll be beginning the first phase of a project this year to bring better situational awareness to the City of Seattle of threats and hazards affecting the Maritime industry in Puget Sound.  Sahana Eden will be used as a resource directory, for task management and mapping data as part of an extensive multi-year and multi-vendor integration project.

NYC Prepared.  Work is continuing to prepare a Community Information Management System for community based organizations in the Greater New York City area involved in Super Storm Sandy long-term recovery efforts.  The Sahana Eden based NYC Prepared site will primarily to serve as a shared resource for directory and services information (a 2-1-1 type resource).  See the NYC Prepared Tools page for more information.

Philippines Super Typhoon Yolanda.  We are continuing to provide support to groups using Sahana Eden as part of the recovery efforts and are looking for funding to support an effort to hold a SahanaCamp and associated Evaluation Campaign to build a Filipino Community Of Practice amongst humanitarian and technical organizations in the Philippines.

Upcoming Events

IOTX Lanka June 16-22, 2014 in Negombo and Colombo, Sri LankaSAVE THE DATE and plan to join us for a series of events commemorating the Indian Ocean Tsunami Xth Anniversary and focused on strengthening disaster planning and preparedness.  Planned public events include an Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Workshop, ISCRAM Asia Conference, SahanaCamp Hackathon/Barcamp, a LirneASIA Public Lecture, and of course, the 2014 Sahana Annual General Meeting.

* * * * *

That’s all for this month.  If I’ve missed anything important, please do share your news with the community as well.  And as always, my inbox is always open.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Mark

Go forth and do good!!!

A belated November issue of Sahana News.  It was an incredibly eventful month, and the events in the Philippine especially consumed every spare moment.  Here’s the next installment of Sahana News for November 2013.

Recent News and Announcements

Welcome New Directors:  The Sahana Software Foundation Directors has invited three new directors to join the Board.  Please join me in welcoming their ideas, energy and commitment to Sahana and open source:

David Bitner – returns to the Sahana Software Foundation Board.  David is a GIS professional who recently received the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium’s Polaris Leadership Award for 2013. He sits on Sahana’s Financial Oversight Committee and regularly serves as admin for our Google Summer of Code program.

Devin Balkind – head of the Sarapis Foundation and NYC Prepared.  Devin is a fierce advocate of the use of free/libre and open source software for humanitarian organizations.  He has been working with the Sahana Software Foundation since Hurricane Sandy to assist humanitarian organizations with their technical needs, from websites to mailing lists to directories and systems like Sahana Eden.

Nuwan Waidyanatha – Chair of the Sahana Standards and Interoperability Committee.  Nuwan is leading the organization of the IOTX events in Sri Lanka next year and is spearheading a number of projects initiatives in the Asia Pacific Region – including a proposed Sahana Center of Excellence to be based in Bangkok and a planned SahanaCamp for the Philippines to be held early next year.

Super Typhoon Haiyan Response:  Much of the Sahana community has been involved with supporting efforts to aid the people of the Philippines who survived Super Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda last month. Two existing Sahana Eden stakeholders in the Philippines have both utilized Sahana Eden based solutions as part of their disaster response and recovery operations:  First, the Philippine Red Cross as a user of the Sahana Eden based Resource Management System; and second, the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, who utilize the Sahana Eden based Relief Goods Inventory and Monitoring System (RGIMS).  In addition, a third effort to support the Philippine Department of Health arose from long-time Sahana Eden partners IOSN.  And we are currently responding to a request from the President’s office and via Crisis Mapper Celina Agaton to track aid requests and the status of donations.  For more information about our response activities, please see the following posts on our website:

In addition, the National Library of Medicine has set up an Haiyan event on their Sahana Vesuvius based People Locator system and is synchronizing missing and found persons data with Google Person Finder.

Please share this information with your networks and help us raise awareness and money for the great work that we do.  We have launched a fundraising campaign for Sahana on Razoo and have also posted this information our Facebook page and on Twitter.  Please share this information with your networks (like, retweet, etc.) and let them know how important it is to support us.

Google Code-In.  The Google Code-In started last month.  We are proud to be one of only 10 organizations chosen to mentor this program.  SSF Community members Ramindu Deshapriya (GSOC 2011 & 2012) and Vishrut Mehta (GSOC 2013) are our “admins”.  Mentors and task ideas continue to be welcome.  The program runs through early January.

Second Virtual Eden Training Held.  The second virtual Sahana Eden training for new developers was held on November 23rd.  We had over a dozen persons in attendance – most were participants in the Google Code-In – and again we’ve received great feedback and evaluations.  All training materials – including a recording of the session – are or will soon be available on our training page.  http://sahanafoundation.org/programs/training/

New Software Development Interns Announced.  As part of the Sahana Software Foundation’s internship program, we awarded internships to four software development interns with our Sahana Eden project: Aviral Desgupta (one of the 2012 Google Code-In Grand Prize Winners), Somay Jain (returning intern and 2013 GSOC student), Arnav Sharma and Katherine Papadopoulos.  They will be beginning this month.  We will also soon be announcing a fifth intern to work with our Sahana Vesuvius project to begin next month.  Profiles of the interns and their projects will be posted soon to our website.

Los Angeles County Community Resilience Mapping Tool Training held.  Training took place in late October for the eight “coalitions” that are going to be using Sahana Eden for community resiliency mapping.  You can read more about the community resilience initiative in “LA Builds Resilience through Wide-Ranging Relationships” from the November 2013 issue of Emergency Management Magazine.

Agreement with AidIQ:  This past month, we signed a long-term agreement with AidIQ to provide services to the Sahana Software Foundation at pre-negotiated rates.  This was the first agreement signed based on the responses we received to our open Request For Information issued in 2011.  The agreement will allow the Sahana Software Foundation to be more responsive to project and grant opportunities and will help us build capacity.

Upcoming Events

SahanaCamp@AIT Thailand December 16-17.  There will be a two day SahanaCamp run by SSF DIrector Nuwan Waidyanatha as part of a five-day Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) workshop hosted by the Center of Excellence in the Context of Climate Change in Bangkok, Thailand.  This SahanaCamp is not a technical training but is geared for humanitarian organizations to better understand how to manage information using tools like Sahana software.  For more information, see the event page on the Sahana Eden wiki.  Please contact Nuwan if you are interested in attending.

IOTX Lanka June 16-22, 2014 in Negombo and Colombo, Sri Lanka – SAVE THE DATE and plan to join us for a series of events commemorating the Indian Ocean Tsunami Xth Anniversary and focused on strengthening disaster planning and preparedness.  Planned public events include an Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) Workshop, ISCRAM Asia Conference, SahanaCamp Hackathon/Barcamp, a LirneASIA Public Lecture, and of course, the 2014 Sahana Annual General Meeting.

* * * * *

That’s all for this month.  If I’ve missed anything important, please do share your news with the community as well.  And as always, my inbox is always open.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Mark

Go forth and do good!!!

Sahana EdenOur next Virtual Sahana Eden Training for New Developers will be Saturday, November 23 at 1700 UTC.

This program was designed for software developers who want to learn how to begin contributing code to Sahana Eden based solutions that support disaster management, emergency management and other humanitarian organizations. The training program will provide an orientation in the technologies that Sahana Eden uses, describe the architecture of the Sahana Eden codebase; identify the steps to install a Sahana Eden developer’s environment; explain how to share code on Git; provide information on where more information about the code can be found and how to communicate effectively with the Sahana community.

The program is planned for 75-90 minutes of instruction followed by 30-45 minutes for questions and answers.

This training is scheduled to best support participants in the 2013 Google Code-In who want to complete coding tasks with the Sahana Software Foundation. Attending the training will be considered a task for GCI upon completion of a short quiz on the content and a survey on the training.

But anyone interested is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Please register here to receive a link to the training:

Sahana Eden New Developer Trainings are held on a quarterly basis, scheduled to best engage new volunteers in support of planned Sahana project activities and events. Future trainings will be scheduled before the 2014 Google Summer of Code in March or April, and before the June Sahana Bar Camp in Colombo, Sri Lanka to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

All sessions will be recorded and training materials will be available on our training page for those unable to attend the live sessions.

 

2013-11-07T120131Z_2_CBRE9A609QG00_RTROPTP_2_PHILIPPINES-TYPHOON-HAIYANThe Sahana Software Foundation is currently working with our long-term partners in the Philippines – the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which has implemented a Sahana Eden based solution for logistics management of humanitarian supplies, and the Philippines Red Cross, a user of the Sahana Eden based IFRC Resource Management System for volunteer management and coordination.  We are also working with IOSN (International Open Source Network) on a potential independent Sahana site  to support civil society groups.

Follow the front page of our website for updates of our work to help the people of the Philippines.