News

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!

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!!!