Obrigado Lisbon! The Sahana Community Bonds over Bacalhau and the Port

I’m just back from six days in Lisbon, Portugal for the Sahana Community Bar Camp, Annual Meeting, SahanaCamp@ISCRAM Disaster Workshop and Simulation, and Interoperability Workshop as part of the 8th ISCRAM Conference, as well as a few days of sightseeing and wholly re-energized about our future.

Participants included: Back row: Zubair Assad, Fran Boon, Michael Howden, Dominic König, Brent Woodworth, Martin Thomsen; middle: Hocine Saadi, Praneeth Bodduluri, Robby O’Connor, Mark Prutsalis; seated: Chad Heuschober, David Bitner, Greg M

The main theme of the weekend’s events was Community. I’m really excited about the new mission for an expanded Community Development Committee (CDC) and all the great ideas put forth for it by Michael, Bitner, Louiqa and Pat – especially Pat. (Thank you Pat!) I’m also looking forward to being able to step back and let others take responsibility for much of what we do.

I’m also looking forward to the active growth of our membership and receiving the recommendations of the new CDC on where the bar for Membership should be set, and how we can recruit, engage, and retain our Members as active contributors to the Sahana Software Foundation. I’m thrilled that this conversation has already taken hold and ideas are actively being exchanged between our members on these topics.


All this would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of Google, who provided general funding for our meeting and supplemental support to sponsor the expenses of former GSOC students to attend – I’m looking forward to seeing their postings on the event soon; to IBM Portugal, who donated incredible meeting space at the IBM Forum for our Bar Camp and Annual Meeting; and to ISCRAM, who provided a venue and promotion for the SahanaCamp@ISCRAM as well as meeting space for our director’s working meeting on Sunday morning.  AidIQ donated materials production and copying for our workshop and simulation.

I also want to thank all of those who attended our Bar Camp and Annual Meeting. In addition to having 9 other Members of the Foundation with us in Lisbon (David Bitner, Praneeth Bodduluri, Fran Boon, Chad Heuschober, Michael Howden, Dominic Konig, Greg M, Martin Thomsen, and Brent Woodworth), we had two former GSOC students from last year – Zubair Assad and Robby O’Connor, Eero Pykalainen of IFRC, and Hocine Saadi from CERIST in Algeria. Thank you all for coming.

Highlights of the Sahana Annual Meeting Events

I took an informal poll of everyone with us in Lisbon on Sunday night – the last we were all together, which went on into the early morning hours because no one wanted to leave, on what were the three highlights of the weekend… and here’s what they said:

Community Calls: There is no replacement for face-to-face time, but in absence of an annual opportunity to spend quality time together, as we just had in Lisbon, we need to find time to talk to each other – not just ping e-mails or IRC chat around. I announced at the Annual Meeting that we would hold monthly community calls at two different times to enable the greatest amount of participation from our global community. There is no substitute for talking to each other directly to promote better understanding. In keeping with new emphasis on assigning individual’s a clear role/title with attached responsibility, I’ve accepted Michael Howden’s offer to coordinate these calls – he will be responsible for posting an open agenda so anyone can add topics that they would like to talk about or news they would like to share – and to find a time that works best for most people and then facilitate the calls or find someone from the community who can do so if he is not available. I personally will do my best to attend both calls every month no matter the day and time in order to mostly listen and answer questions.

The Rise of the Standards and Interoperability Committee: It was nice to see that out of a 2-hour bar camp session on interoperability that the community found a mission and a concrete project for the Standards and Interoperability Committee to take on. Eden and Agasti living together in harmony? Is this the end of the world? A sign of the apocalypse? Or just the result of getting some very smart people in the same room to share ideas and look what came out: An ontology project! Awesome. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this.

The SahanaCamp@ISCRAM Disaster Simulation and Workshop: It was a nice opportunity to see a roomful of new folks banging on our software. And so much interest on part of academics and responders in attendance. In fact, head of Portugal’s Volunteer Fire Fighters has approach us subsequent to the event about setting up a partnership. Also incredible to see Sahana product Mayon for the first time, a truly powerful planning tool, alongside Vesuvius for missing persons tracking, and Eden for resource management. After spending three days together and going through the bar camp and workshop, product differentiation has never been clearer. The landscape has plenty of space for Mayon and Vesuvius to peacefully co-exist alongside Eden – in fact, you will be hearing a lot more about how Eden can be a data provider to the planning and resource management capabilities of Mayon, and vice-versa in the coming months.

The Interoperability Workshop at ISCRAM

Many of the Sahana community also participated in person and virtually at the ISCRAM Interoperability Workshop. While I was there to help coordinate on site, most of the work organizing this event was done by Chamindra de Silva, who wasn’t able to attend due to work obligations. But he did a great job pulling together the right people and chairing the session remotely. At ISCRAM, Sahana members Greg M and Dominic Konig were present for the testing, along with Ping from Google. Tim Schwartz and a large team at NLM (Glenn, Mike, Merwan, Leif and possibly others) participated in the testing of exchange of data with Google Person Finder using the PFIF data standard. As Chamindra pointed out, this type of testing is important to carry on.

Personal Notes

For me, the highlight of the week was the Community bonding I saw take place by having so many of our community able to spend structured and unstructured time together. I feel blessed to have been able to bring everyone together in Lisbon and watch quantum leaps forward from that face time result. What a great group of people. Thank you all for coming and being so positive and collaborative.

Some of my other favorite things to remember from the week:

  • Zubair’s high energy and lightning sightseeing. He participated in all events and saw more of the country (yes, he left Lisbon) at the same time than those of us who stayed a few extra days for that purpose by getting up early and ducking out from dinner.
  • Becoming BFFs with Robby on Foursquare because we kept checking in at all the same places.
  • OMG the best steak any of us had ever had at that French restaurant by the waterfront @ La Brasserie de L’Entrecote
  • Michael and Kari (especially) as our evening social event coordinators.
  • So nice to finally meet Lifeeth in person.
  • Everyone being surprised to find out that we all agreed about just about everything.
  • Fran, Chad and Dominic who just couldn’t stop talking to each other about all they could do together.
  • Two days of sightseeing with Bitner

And hey – what about the new branding and web site – which will launch in a couple of days now?

It’s been a long, hard road to get as far as we have, but the future is so bright with major stakeholders now enthusiastically wanting to adopt Sahana and promote further adoption of Sahana – from large US municipalities like Los Angeles and New York City – to Red Cross chapters across the US and across the world – from Asia Pacific to Europe – and support for first responders like the Associação Portuguesa dos Bombeiros Voluntários (Volunteer Firefigthers Portuguese Association),  and participation in our bar camp in meeting by stakeholders such as IFRC’s Eero Pyktaillenan.

Finally, I’m thrilled to welcome OSUOSL’s Leslie Hawthorn to the Board of the Sahana Software Foundation. Leslie, as you may know, has been a strong supporter of Sahana for years now, dating back to when she ran the Google Summer of Code Program for Google as their Open Source Programs Manager, Since joining the Oregon State University Open Source Lab some months ago, she has helped us arrange to move our infrastructure over to OSUOSL, has dived in to helping us with marketing materials – especially for the new web site and been a close advisor of mine and I know is just dying to support our community development initiatives. Welcome, Leslie!

And, as always, Go Forth and Do Good!

1 Comment

  1. HI Mark and everyone who was in this event , first i was very happy to meet the persons who work on this big and humanitarian project ,it allowed me to get a global vision of Sahana as software and Sahana as foundation , in CERIST we are studding how we can use sahana and which version fits our needs . and why not if we can contribute in this project .


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