Report on SahanaCamp LA

SahanaCamp LA was held at the City of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center on October 24-25 2011.

SahanaCamp™ is a program of the Sahana Software Foundation. The SahanaCamp™ program provides participants with:

  • an understanding of how Sahana software can help manage information before, during and after disasters;
  • a practical technical workshop to provide instruction in how Sahana software can be deployed within and across organizations;
  • a forum to discuss and share best practices in the use of information tools for disaster and emergency management, which may include simulations and exercises.

The main goal of the SahanaCamp™ program is to quick-start deployments of Sahana software while building a local support community for local or national emergency and disaster response organizations. This is the 5th SahanaCamp™ that the Sahana Software Foundation has organized, following ones in India, Vietnam, Taiwan and Portugal. We hope to extend the use of Sahana software in Southern California through the training and networks created at this SahanaCamp.

During SahanaCamp LA, we used our Sahana Eden Open Source Emergency Management Platform to explore solutions for the Los Angeles region, including needs for: volunteer management, donations management, registering organizations, asset management, inventory management, request management, project tracking and assessments. SahanaCamp LA was facilitated by Fran Boon, Dominic König and Michael Howden of AidIQ, who donated much of their time to prepare and deliver the SahanaCampprogram.

Participants

We had 25 participants representing numerous organizations from the area and beyond, including the City of Los Angeles IT Agency; the Los Angeles Fire Department, the City of Inglewood, American Red Cross Chapters of Greater Los Angeles and Orange County; southern California’s VOAD coordinator ENLA, IT consultants and GIS professionals, Sahana community members and even a representative from the UN World Food Programme, who came all the way from Rome. It was a highly skilled and interested audience and a great way to kick off an effort to organize a local Sahana community to support the use of Sahana software in Southern California.

SahanaCamp LA Participants in the City's Emergency Operations Center: Standing (L-R): Jef Leifeste, Pat Tressel, Fran Boon, Dominic König, Dave Redelman, Andy Bogus, Brent Woodworth, Mark Prutsalis, Terri Pond, Gavin Claypool, Greg Wilcox, Kathy Hormozi, Nico Preston, Francesco Stompanato, Alondo Patrick, Huu Ly and Michael Howden; Kneeling (L-R): Russell Ijams, Alix Stayton, Riz Casto and James Chin

 The SahanaCamp LA Program

The first half-day session of SahanaCamp LA – entitled “Using Sahana Software Solutions” – provided participants with an overview of the Sahana Software Foundation along with a detailed demonstration of a number of different solutions with Sahana Eden, and a session on how Sahana Eden could be used as a solution in the participants’ organization.

The following day-and-a-half technical workshop – “Developing Sahana Software Solutions” – provided participants with technical training in how to install, deploy and customize Sahana Eden, along with an introduction in how to build ones’ own modules. Installation of an Eden developer’s environment using flashdrives donated to SSF by Google for last year’s Grace Hopper Celebration Codeathon for Humanity – were effective at quick-starting participants on coding with python and Sahana Eden without having to set up Launchpad accounts or to get bzr working, which can often be challenging.

Sahana Eden Essential Guide

The technical sessions relied heavily on the Sahana Eden Essential Guide, which had just been completed the week before at the GSOC Documentation Summit. This material was highly valued by the participants and a great affirmation of the hard work of the Eden documentation team. A number of improvements were identified and will be made to both the online and published editions of the Sahana Eden Essential Guide. If you would like to order a paperback copy of the Sahana Eden Essential Guide, you may do so for only $10 from Lulu.com; you will receive the latest published version at the time of ordering, and a portion of the proceeds is returned to the Sahana Software Foundation as a charitable donation.

Coming soon: short videos of some of the technical sessions.

Thanks

SahanaCamp LA would not have been possible without the assistance of many individuals and organizations who helped make it possible.

In particular, I would like to thank our hosts: at the City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, their General Manager Jim Featherstone, Joann Troncale, Bryan Morelock, and Tony Le, who arranged for our use of their fabulous facility and provided logistical and technical support for the event.

I would like to thank our sponsors:  AidIQ and its Directors Michael Howden, Fran Boon and Dominic König, who delivered an excellent program and donated much of their time to do so;  Terri Pond and IT Crisis Services, who helped with most of the local logistical arrangements and provided food and drinks for the participants and supplies for the facilitators, and finally SSF’s Chair Brent Woodworth and the Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Foundation, who has been working to introduce Sahana to his hometown for literally years now and assisted in making many of the arrangements that made SahanaCamp LA so successful.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the participants who shared their energy, enthusiasm and experience with everyone making SahanaCamp LA such a rewarding experience for everyone in attendance – including current Sahana community members Pat Tressel and Nico Preston, who served as experienced extra hands for those who had questions like myself. Stay tuned for announcements of where and when the next SahanaCamp™ will be scheduled.  We hope to hold 3-4 of these events per year as part of the Sahana Software Foundation’s training and deployment program.

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