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How an Android Phone and Facebook Helped Route Haiti Rescuers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the creative-use-of-pervasive-tech dept.

Communications 114

One intrepid Android fan is extolling the virtues of the open smartphone platform that helped him to route SOS messages in the recent Haiti disaster. "Well, when you are in such a situation, you don't really think about going to Facebook, but it happens that I have a Facebook widget on my Android home screen that regularly displays status updates from my friends. All of a sudden, an SOS message appeared on my home screen as a status update of a friend on my network. Not all smartphones allow you to customize your home screen, let alone letting you put widgets on it. So, I texted Steven about it. As Steven had already been working with the US State Department on Internet development activities in Haiti, he quickly called a senior staff member at the State Department and asked how to get help to the people requesting it from Haiti. State Department personnel requested a short description and a physical street address or GPS coordinates. Via email and text messaging, I was able to relay this information from Port-au-Prince to Steven in Oregon, who relayed it to the State Department in Washington DC, and it was quickly forwarded to the US military at the Port-au-Prince airport and dispatched to the search-and-rescue (SAR) teams being assembled. So the data went from my Android phone to Oregon to Washington DC and then back to the US military command center at the Port-au-Prince airport. I was at first a little skeptical about their reaction: there was so much destruction; they probably already had their hands full. Unexpectedly, they replied back saying: 'We found them, and they are alive! Keep it coming.'"

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Don't you just (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150190)

Haiti it when that happens?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Telescreen (1, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150438)

Telescreens are featured in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. They are television and security camera-like devices used by the ruling Party in Oceania to keep its subjects under constant surveillance, thus eliminating the chance of secret conspiracies against Oceania. All members of the Inner Party and Outer Party and a few proletarian settings have telescreens.

O'Brien claims that he, as a member of the Inner Party, can turn off the telescreen (although etiquette dictates only for half an hour at a time). It is possible that this was false and the screen still functioned as a surveillance device, as, after Winston and Julia are taken into the Ministry of Love, their conversation with the telescreen "off" is played back to Winston. The screens are monitored by the Thought Police. However, it is never made explicitly clear how many screens are monitored at once, or what the precise criteria (if any) for monitoring a given screen are (although we do see that during an exercise program that Winston takes part in every morning, the instructor can see him, meaning telescreens are possibly a variant of video phones). The telescreens are incredibly sensitive, and can pick up a heartbeat. As Winston describes, "...even a back can be revealing..."[1]

Telescreens, in addition to being surveillance devices, are also the equivalent of televisions (hence the name), regularly broadcasting false news reports about Oceania's military victories, economic production figures, spirited renditions of the national anthem to heighten patriotism, and Two Minutes Hate, which is a two-minute film of Emmanuel Goldstein's wishes for freedom of speech and press, which the citizens have been trained to disagree with, thus allowing them an opportunity to direct their subconscious hatred of Big Brother to Goldstein, whom they think is the real enemy. Much of the telescreen programs are given in Newspeak.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telescreen [wikipedia.org]

-1, troll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150202)

fuck fuck fuck

Internet saves (4, Funny)

Gri3v3r (1736820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150208)

First time,Facebook was proved useful...Hope more can get help like that.What a disaster really...

Re:Internet saves (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150270)

Why do people give a shit about Haiti? It's a third-world shithole full of goddamn AIDS-ridden savages who will kill you for your HAM radio and rape your white wimminz.

Watch the Haiti mess on the news. It's all white people who are trying to move the rubble and fix things. The native population just stands and watches like the lazy freeloaders they are.

Re:Internet saves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150406)

Because without Haiti, you trolls would have less lulz. We're all really worried about you guys. It's got nothing to do with human suffering.

Re:Internet saves (4, Informative)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150624)

Technically Haiti is referred to as the "fourth-world" in political science because it is so bad that they think it will never get better. Read Collapse by Jared Diamond about what deforestation does to a civilization.

Re:Internet saves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150942)

That's why mostly American people are helping in my opinion. They are in such a bad condition, they will basically sell country to US for free. And all the Haitian orphans will be going to the missionary schools and they will become very devoted evangelists or mormons.

Re:Internet saves (1)

godefroi (52421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154618)

Um, mormons don't have "missionary schools" (except for that 4-week/9-week training right before they leave...)

Re:Internet saves (1)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154974)

Doesn't the neighboring Dominican Republic have similar issues, and, historically, wasn't it desperately poor as well throughout much of its history? Yet by all appearances it is improving rapidly, due to a far less corrupt government.

There is always hope, IF people are free. Lack of freedom, and in particular corrupt, thieving and murderous "governments," are the cause of much poverty, war, and other suffering.

Re:Internet saves (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150742)

Really? RTFS, I thought they just used a 'flashlight' app on the Android phone, and were waving it in the air to direct people...

Re:Internet saves (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150802)

Facebook also gives relatively hopeless people something to do and something to look forward to...

(This post does not assume the majority of facebook users. I have to disclaim this because I know someone would assume I am implying that.)

Re:Internet saves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31154064)

u doth protest 2 much. lol. u think thay all luzrs. omg.

Re:Internet saves (2, Interesting)

Jamonek (1398691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150810)

First time,Facebook was proved useful...Hope more can get help like that.What a disaster really...

I wouldn't say the first time it has been proven useful. There was also an article of facebook being used to help save a little girl? from a sewer over in Austrailia. Give me some time and I can find it.

Re:Internet saves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153900)

To call a method useful would imply that it functioned more effectively than the traditional alternative. In that particular case, they used Facebook from their mobile phone and a friend eventually called the emergency services. Wouldn't it have been far more effective for them to have called the emergency services themselves?

Re:Internet saves (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150884)

What a disaster really...

I don't think that right now is the time to criticize Facebook...oh, wait...

Re:Internet saves (5, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150970)

"First time,Facebook was proved useful...."

Wrong [abc.net.au]

But just like that story, if they have access to facebook why not just call the police?

Re:Internet saves (1)

antek9 (305362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152072)

Maybe they were geeks like Moss from the IT Crowd who'd rather send out an e-mail to the fire department [youtube.com] than make themselves understood on the phone?

Not a joke (2, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152204)

if they have access to facebook why not just call the police?

It's perfectly understandable that you would ask such a question. To find the answer you would have to do something incredibly difficult and unusual, such as RTFA [blogspot.com] .

But I'll help you out. Here's the relevant part of TFA:

In the first few hours that followed the earthquake, mobile service was completely disrupted. It was almost impossible to place a call, due to the combination of the damages on the cellular networks and the spike in phone calls. However, on some networks, SMS service was still available. People stuck under rubbles started texting to their friends and family (in Haiti and abroad) to tell them they were still alive and needed help. In Haiti, on a population of 8 million, there were about 4 million mobile phone subscribers. Those friends and family, not knowing what to do, started posting these SOS messages on their social networks, mainly on Facebook.

In a disaster, the phone system can be overwhelmed. The bandwidth and resources the phone system needs to make a voice call are huge compared with the bandwidth and resources needed for a simple SMS text message. A 160-character text message, plus its envelope, should be under 2 kilobits for the whole message. A GSM voice connection uses at least 6.5 kilobits per second, every second.

Also, there are a limited number of conversations [privateline.com] possible at one time for each cell tower. In terms of how many people can use a tower at a time, SMS messages are a huge win: an SMS message doesn't tie up a chunk of the tower for seconds.

At my job, we had a Red Cross disaster training session, and the person from the Red Cross told us to expect that cell phone voice service is very likely to not be available in a disaster, but text messages are likely to still work. That was the first time I actually got interested in text messages.

I think, very seriously, that emergency services (police, fire department, etc.) should be set up to receive text messages, precisely to handle the mass-disaster scenario.

Also, in the USA, mobile phones are now required to send GPS location data when the user calls an emergency number (911). I'd like to see a similar feature for texts: when you text to 911, the phone attaches GPS location data to the text message.

steveha

Not a car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153110)

"Also, there are a limited number of conversations [privateline.com] possible at one time for each cell tower. In terms of how many people can use a tower at a time, SMS messages are a huge win: an SMS message doesn't tie up a chunk of the tower for seconds."

So in other words SMS is to the cellular network what Morse code is to hams.

Edit: 5.6 Billion people have a cell phone.

Re:Not a car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153330)

So in other words SMS is to the cellular network what Morse code is to hams.

The analogy isn't exact. Morse code conversations completely tie up a chunk of bandwidth, albeit a very slim chunk. SMS text messages are little packets of data that get routed quickly and then are gone.

Also, most average cell phone users haven't learned Morse code, but many or most of them can send a text message.

Re:Not a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153902)

Also, in the USA, mobile phones are now required to send GPS location data when the user calls an emergency number (911). I'd like to see a similar feature for texts: when you text to 911, the phone attaches GPS location data to the text message.

Minor nitpick: It's not GPS location data, it's cell tower data. Not all phones have GPS units attached to them, but all cell phones require at least a connection to a cell tower.

Re:Not a joke (2, Informative)

brainiac ghost1991 (853936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154966)

In the UK, they now accept SMSs to the emergency services, it's mainly marketed at people with disabilities and you have to register your phone here [emergencysms.org.uk] , I have my phone registered, but luckily haven't had to use it yet!

Re:Internet saves (1)

zubinwadia (1355675) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152978)

Social networks will continue to be useful. It is a critical component of our CiviGuard platform - and we'll be bringing it to iPhone, Android, Win Phone 7 and BlackBerry in the next 6 months. Check out: http://www.civiguard.com/ [civiguard.com]

Re:Internet saves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153046)

this brings a bad taste of "US again saves the world"

Technology (2, Interesting)

UndyingShadow (867720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150232)

Technology is so fucking cool. I really love it when people do amazing things like this and prove how useful it all is.

Re:Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150452)

Yeah, it's really nice to see that people are actually using technology for the benefit of mankind rather than its demise. About friggin time it did so at that..

Please, not this SHIT again (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150236)

This is the now obligatory web 2.0 platform saves the day story. The last one was twitter I believe.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150288)

It's not a total waste of time. All this technology we spend so much money on has a strong tendency (as you seem to have clearly noticed) to be largely frivolous. At times when it proves to also have practical value it is good to point it out because maybe it will help future developments to be less frivolous.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150640)

email would have worked just as well.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150834)

I typically agree with that statement, but I don't think it applies here. There are several problems with in email in this case. The person would have to load the email application, select who to send it to (or a group), type the message, and hope that one of the recipients would know how to help.

A Facebook update has many of the same properties, except it is broadcast to all friends of the person automatically. That is a much larger pool of people who would know what to do or who to contact.

I suppose, in networking terms, it is a broadcast message instead of unicast or multicast. And an SOS should really be a broadcast message. So, I think it is an correct use of the medium.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150852)

I suppose, in networking terms, it is a broadcast message instead of unicast or multicast.

In that case, a blog and an RSS reader would've accomplished the same thing.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150946)

Facebook is a combo blog hosting site and, through their Android app, RSS reader.

Re:Please, not this SHIT again (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152476)

I typically agree with that statement, but I don't think it applies here. There are several problems with in email in this case. The person would have to load the email application, select who to send it to (or a group), type the message, and hope that one of the recipients would know how to help.

A Facebook update has many of the same properties, except it is broadcast to all friends of the person automatically. That is a much larger pool of people who would know what to do or who to contact.

I suppose, in networking terms, it is a broadcast message instead of unicast or multicast. And an SOS should really be a broadcast message. So, I think it is an correct use of the medium.

Ugggh..

A long, long time ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth... high priests used "directory services" to communicate with the public and spread their message. Legend has it that common folk would even use them to hunt for potential mates. Lists of people they communicated with frequently were recorded on stone Buddy Lists. We also know from fossil records that large groups of netizens would congregate in "chat rooms" and discuss named topics. The impressive stone Buddy List is comparable to cellphone address books discovered thousands of days later, in the late portaphonic period.

We are truly blessed with today's smartphone facebook technology. With seconds to live, dwindling supply of electrons, and Internet access, you can post an SOS to an Internet site to be seen by dozens of people feigning interest in your social life - a feat that could take minutes with older cellphone address books, using only 90% of the electrons an electronic mail would take. Its also way cooler than dirt old call emergency services over copper line methods from the pre-portaphonic copper age.

GREAT! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150244)

majority of the impoverished population were given free iphone 3g models when the 3gss came out. also great of the local network providers to give them all free unlimited data plans that even work when the local infrastructure is destroyed in an earthquake.

so sad that apple doesn't want to allow people to help people in haiti.

suck my balls android.

True Story (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150258)

My sister in law, a very attractive girl in college and unfortunatly, raised by nigger loving parents became close friends with a coalburner. Seeing no problem with this because her parents did her no favor by not educating her about the reality of real niggers, but how all niggers are magic niggers, this is what happened:

Coalburning friend asks her to take her and her buck nigger to a party because she had a car. So she actually gives this buck nigger a lift to the party. It's a college rager, everyone is drinking, her girlfriend leaves her to go smoke some black dick. She finds herself swarmed by a group of bucks totaly Muh Dikking her. One of them spikes her drink.

She wakes up in the morning on a mattress in the basement of a piss smelling apartment building. Her shoes, pants and underwear nowhere to be found. Her shirt is around her neck, her bra missing as well. No keys, cell, or purse either.

She felt somthing crusty all over her face along with a gagging awful slime in her mouth and throat. Her vagina and anus felt as if they were burning. She had been gang raped for what was later to be determined by at least 8 niggers for at least 2 hours, possibly longer.

She was able to pull her shirt down far enough to walk out to look for help. She saw a gas station 2 doors down but had to run behind the dumpster to throw up. She found her purse behind the dumpster, empty of course. She had a spare car key zipped into a purse pocket, she knew where she was and with a nasty discarded jacket she found behind the dumpster, she walked back to where the party was to get her car. It was gone, recovered a week later, tires smoked off, an empty chicken bucket in the backseat along with her jeans and underwear. They apparently used her car to drive her to the scene of the crime.

Back to the gas station to call her niggerloving dad. Suddenly, he wasn't the niggerlover he had been prior to his daughter sitting next to him with nigger jiz breath on the way to the hospital.

DNA was collected and she was given an abortion type pill to prevent her from having a zebra. No DNA matches because apparently the
criminals had never been caught by any enforcement agency yet.

Today, 10 years later, she has the worst type of STD known to man, it will never go away, but what does go away is any man who finds out she has an STD from a nigger gang bang. And if someday she finds a sympathetic man who isn't afraid to put his dick in her, he will also face the risk of catching a severe case of crank rot as well as any children she may have that will be infected.

Now, tell me how her niggerloving daddy did her any good preparing her for the real world. It was only one night but that one night ruined her for the rest of her life.

You could probably find daddy here on Chimpout today, but he paid a high price for addmission here, he paid it with one of his little girls.

Spread the word. Girls, stay away from niggers at all cost!

Communications is a human right. (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150262)

I have a terrible karma for being so right wing but when you have before proof that making available communications to people can save lives, then, it goes to show that communications is a fundamental human right and that there needs to be communications for everyone, everywhere, on the planet earth.

Re:Communications is a human right. (4, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150374)

maybe i'm being whoooshed, but doesn't "communication for everyone, everywhere" sound rather socialist ? Not that i'm against it... right wing would be "communication for whomever can pay for it, wherever it's profitable", wouldn't it ?

Re:Communications is a human right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150516)

Not necessarily right-wing, but certainly capitalists would find a way to capitalize on / profiteer from such a system.

Actually, very... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150776)

maybe i'm being whoooshed, but doesn't "communication for everyone, everywhere" sound rather socialist ? Not that i'm against it... right wing would be "communication for whomever can pay for it, wherever it's profitable", wouldn't it ?

Actually, it would be enormously profitable, just as the railroads and highways proved to be profitable. The ultimate critical mass of every technology is ubiquity. If -everyone- had internet access, that was admittedly subsidized or monopolized so that some could have it essentially on the cheap, they would certainly conduct economic activity with it.

Communications TECH is a not human right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150932)

Not that i'm against it... right wing would be "communication for whomever can pay for it, wherever it's profitable", wouldn't it ?

Yes, BUT. RW would also say, "Communications with competition, so mercifully, you can afford it. Also, Communications optional, so if you choose to spend that money on something else (such as food), you will be allowed to, instead of being forced at gunpoint to chip in for communications for everyone everywhere at the expense of whatever else you happen to personally value."

I agree that communications for everyone (or at least for me) everywhere is really cool, so the LW position happens to serve me in this particular instance, since I'm a computer dude. But as you generalize x for everyone everywhere, we all start disagreeing about the relative coolnesses of x. It just might be possible there's someone who doesn't want it, and I really do hope I never have to pay for y for everyone everywhere, since I never saw the point in y. When the unexpected z (earthquake) happens and I suddenly want y, you can all laugh at me. But don't tell me big brother truly has anticipated all the zs and is ready with the perfect answers for all the ys we'll need. Nobody in history has ever gotten close to doing that right.

Re:Communications TECH is a not human right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31152764)

Also, roads, fire and police optional, so if you choose to spend that money on something else (such as food), you will be allowed to, instead of being forced at gunpoint to chip in for roads, fire and police for everyone everywhere at the expense of whatever else you happen to personally value."

I agree that roads, fire and police for everyone (or at least for me) everywhere is really cool, so the LW position happens to serve me in this particular instance, since I'm a computer dude. But as you generalize roads, fire and police for everyone everywhere, we all start disagreeing about the relative coolnesses of roads, fire and police. It just might be possible there's someone who doesn't want it, and I really do hope I never have to pay for roads, fire and police for everyone everywhere, since I never saw the point in roads, fire and police. When the unexpected z (earthquake) happens and I suddenly want roads, fire and police, you can all laugh at me. But don't tell me big brother truly has anticipated all the zs and is ready with the perfect answers for all the roads, fire and polices we'll need. Nobody in history has ever gotten close to doing that right.

Re:Communications is a human right. (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152074)

one can be socially authoritarian (socially right wing) and have no problem with "socialism." The economic right however might.

Re:Communications is a human right. (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153082)

Indeed. The principle being that we don't have infinite resources, so you have to be able to justify their allocation. In capitalism, this is done on the free market. Socialism advocates political allocation.

It is up to the reader to do some research and decide which is generally more efficient.

Where political allocation defeats markets (2, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155344)

The principle being that we don't have infinite resources, so you have to be able to justify their allocation. In capitalism, this is done on the free market. Socialism advocates political allocation.

It is up to the reader to do some research and decide which is generally more efficient.

I encourage the reader who takes up that challenge to also research which is specifically more efficient.

In a particular mathematical model, free markets solves an optimization problem. They also seem to work well in practice in many situations.

However, they work less well the more barriers to entry and exit there are in a given market. Having to build a large amount of infrastructure (factories, cell towers) in order to start producing is a barrier to entry. Having to fight a monopolist or cartel is a barrier to entry. Network effects (where present) means the free market will converge towards a monopoly or cartel situation.

Particularly for cell phone communication, there's the infrastructure problem, network effects, plus you need some radio frequency spectrum allocation mechanism. It looks like it's a good case for allocation through public policy.

Of course, feel free to compare the US against Canada and your favourite European countries if you feel empirical today; but you may also want to control for corru^Wlobbying influence (if able).

Re:Communications is a human right. (2, Insightful)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153462)

The problem with this mentality is that the optimal functioning of human communities on the planet must be in everyone's best interest. A significant amount of research indicates that with the advent of sufficiency (an end to human poverty and need), education, civil rights (particularly for women), and available contraception, the problematic future for human beings would change for the better overnight. Famine, war, plague, and overpopulation would vanish. With the first world sharing of breakthrough technology, even the problems surrounding climate and pollution could be fully addressed, and a brighter future for all people could be ensured.

Giving all people a powerful means by which to be in communication, relate, grow and thrive together in collaboration, is in all our best interest, and trying to place this in the context of a business plan or a financial justification is as myopic as letting millions a year die because a proper cure for malaria makes poor business sense.

Re:Communications is a human right. (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154072)

maybe i'm being whoooshed, but doesn't "communication for everyone, everywhere" sound rather socialist ? Not that i'm against it... right wing would be "communication for whomever can pay for it, wherever it's profitable", wouldn't it ?

Not sure if it's especially socialist (it's a horribly loaded, confused and misused word that can mean "freedom" in one country and "tyranny" in another), but fundamental human rights do indeed tend to be progressive/liberal issues (though "liberal" is just as loaded and confused).

The real problem is that politics tends not to be so one-dimensional as left-right terminology makes it out to be. There's dictators and libertarians on both ends of the spectrum.

Re:Communications is a human right. (1)

godefroi (52421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154728)

Hush up and vote the party line.

The kool-aid is great.

Re:Communications is a human right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31154330)

Shh - they haven't realised yet.

Re:Communications is a human right. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150410)

also, note that there's a bunch of things that would save more lives, such as medicine (preventive and curative) , education, clean water, food, peace...

A more general solution (4, Interesting)

atfrase (879806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150404)

This is an amazing story, and everyone involved deserves all honor and appreciation for their life-saving efforts.

Nonetheless, it raises the question: how can we leverage technology to achieve this kind of effect without requiring a friend-of-a-friend with a direct line to the US State Department?

There were no doubt many other people trapped by the quake who didn't have such fortuitous Facebook connections, and many of them probably weren't found in time. Is there a way to deploy some kind of SMS-based 911 infrastructure in situations like this, even on foreign cellular networks? Could we even deploy our own mobile cellular base stations for this purpose, if the local cell network is too badly damaged? Other ideas?

Re:A more general solution (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151022)

Could we even deploy our own mobile cellular base stations for this purpose, if the local cell network is too badly damaged?

Portable cell towers are regularly brought in wherever large crowds are expected to gather.
It's basically a trailer/truck with a generator, cell antenna, and microwave/satellite/wired link to the telco.
The problem of course, is prepositioning such hardware in locations where it is within reach of the disaster area.
Then you have to get it where it's needed, which isn't so simple in the aftermath of a quake.

The more general solution exists (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151638)

I was directly involved with the relief efforts, coordinating with USAID, US State Department, UN Logistics Cluster, Office of the Special Envoy, and others. The tool we did all use was an open source project called Ushahidi (haiti.ushahidi.org). Official agencies and average people with cell phones alike were able to submit situation reports, relief requests, and donations via SMS to their crisis-mapping/crowdsourcing tool. Each report was geo-tagged and mapped. The US Marines stationed in the USS Bataan anchored off Port-au-Prince told us they literally saw reports pop up from people who were still trapped in rubble but had working cell phones, and they were able to find and save them because of Ushahidi.

The folks at the Ushahidi project went one better than that, though, because they got a hold of the guy who runs Haiti's cell phone company, Digicel, and he worked with them to push out official alerts (like where to get medical care, food, water, etc) to all Digicel's subscribers in the affected area.

I've never seen anything like it. Watching reports from people trapped in rubble pop up on the map and replies from first responders quickly follow up sent shivers up my spine. It's the first time I've ever witnessed open source software saving lives in real time.

Mod Parent Up - Informative (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153266)

I never heard of Ushahidi before. But from Phoenix666's description and the website (Ushahidi.com) it seems like it would be much more valuable than facebook if people know about it.

Re:Mod Parent Up - Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153914)

All I can say is hell yes - unlike Facebook, this appears to be built for disaster situations.

Read some of the linked stores. Setting up a number so that Hatians could text in requests for help that were then sent via a crowdsouring provider to be translated, coalesed down to reports that military types could action. Usahidi appears to provide the management engine; handling all these reports and allowing humans to see and manage the data.

http://blog.crowdflower.com/
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/02/07/sms-turks/

http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/02/06/ushahidi-how-we-are-doing/

The way I look at it, if you're impressing USMC Lieutenant Generals, you're producing something of value.

An impressive thing is how they realised they needed to get in touch. Text message.

http://www.mission4636.org/heart-and-soul/

How's that - people that know the area are translating (literally - the locals are using a creole, not English) vague addresses into lat/long, giving clear instructions to the USMC, US Coast Guard and other SAR teams.

It appears that Ushahidi is a crisis management system - a platform for coordinating information in a crisis like this. (Or even more mundane ones - http://specials.washingtonpost.com/snow-cleanup/ - is another instance of the same platform, for dealing with the snow issues in Washington State. USA.)

And they had volunteers scouring facebook, twitter and whatever the heck else they could find.

http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/29/haiti-where-are-and-where-we-go-from-here/

http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/27/mission-4636/

Really is a story of techlogy and the web enabling people to support others and provide the information managment and local knowledge, allowing the people 'on the ground' to concentrate on the actual work. Given the language issues and the connections to the diaspora, it seems also that it's something the military could not have done. Also being spread worldwide allows for 24/7 operations.

Just read the blog posts in
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/01/
http://blog.ushahidi.com/index.php/2010/02/

Re:The more general solution exists (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153844)

The solution is called ham radio.

Availability (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154260)

The problem with HAM radio is its general availability.

Not a lot of persons own HAM equipment and have the proper training/license to be able to use it.
The rescuers *could* bring their own along with they own trained personal and use it to coordinate themselves. But the general population won't be able to use it.

Whereas nowadays it seems like every single person, every kid and every grand-ma, has a cellphone.
Even more so in developing/underdeveloped countries where the traditional land-line phone is so old/so bad/missing, so that in fact, cellphones are the only thing that do work and are worth owning.
And everyone is able to send text messages, without any special training.

So as long as you have a few surviving cell towers (even so few that placing voice-calls without overloading the system isn't practical) or can manage to deploy a few emergency ones, the local population will immediately be able to use texting - using equipment they already own and know how to operate.

Re:A more general solution (1)

Tetard (202140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153734)

As pointed out elsewhere, Android just happened to be what the author had in his pocket at the time. Of course, a lot of factors made it possible. What's very inspiring about this is the amount of work that was done, without any prompting or formal coordination from any "official authorities". The people on the ground, together with their friends and colleagues from around the world (Google, http://www.nsrc.org/, http://www.afnic.fr/, http://www.pch.net/, US State Department, etc...) made it happen. To illustrate this, check out how continuity of the .HT ccTLD was ensured while the people running it on a daily basis in Port au Prince were unreachable:

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bortzmeyer.org%2Fdns-haiti.html&sl=fr&tl=en

  No prior agreement had been made for "disaster recovery" but even so, the right decisions were taken. Of course things would have been much smoother if there had been some sort of contingency planning, but taken into account the circumstances, this was pretty amazing.

Phil

Feeding off Web 2.0 hype (2, Insightful)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150476)

Because if they used any other protocol that doesn't involve sending huge amounts of redudant text and shiny graphics over a commercial telephone network it would never make the news.

Personally I'd find it much more amazing if some radio hobbyists managed to repair a transmitter from bits of scrap salvaged from the rubble and sent out a packet using that but we'd never hear about it because FB and Twitter were not involved

Re:Feeding off Web 2.0 hype (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150500)

Well go do it. Amaze us all.

Re:Feeding off Web 2.0 hype (2, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151658)

It would never work, just before the proffesor sends the SOS message Gilligan will trip over the delicate instrument and ruin everything

Re:Feeding off Web 2.0 hype (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152430)

Feel free to look up the amount of data sent to update Facebook statuses via the Facebook API on an Android smart phone. Its not much. Twitter would've worked too. Texting of course would not, since it's not broadcast.

Pathetic use of technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150482)

I read articles like this and shrug...so in a huge disaster you have to have cell service AND an Internet connection with access to an international server to coordinate and if you are somehow magically able to obtain such connectivity your prize is use twitter and facebook... WTF is wrong with this picture?

How hard would it be to to have very low bandwidth (text only) low frequency but high range radios in cell phones that would allow them to message each other directly over several miles bypassing the cell infustructure? Now that would be incredibly useful but it will never see the light of day for obvious reasons.

Re:Pathetic use of technology (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150534)

How hard would it be to to have very low bandwidth (text only) low frequency but high range radios in cell phones that would allow them to message each other directly over several miles bypassing the cell infustructure? Now that would be incredibly useful but it will never see the light of day for obvious reasons.

Well low frequency probably wouldn't work so great unless you had a very long antenna, but the rest of it seems like a good idea. I have always wondered why there is no dual mode PMR-446 (EU equivalent of FRS) GSM phone around. Eventually such phones would support limited data transfer for location polling and presence info (like a long-range bluetooth scan) but unfortunately even the new digital PMR standard doesn't support this.

Maybe someday we can do away with money grabbing mobile phone networks altogether and use the mesh network for local calls with gigabit WiMax provided by home users for backhaul and keep Iridium [iridium.com] around for very remote areas and as an extra backup

FanBoid? (4, Interesting)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150544)

--"Via email and text messaging, I was able to relay this information from Port-au-Prince to Steven in Oregon, who relayed it to the State Department in Washington DC, and it was quickly forwarded to the US military at the Port-au-Prince airport and dispatched to the search-and-rescue (SAR) teams being assembled. "

Great, but just about any smartphone can do this, even most of the closed smartphone platforms, nothing special. Is it just me that thinks Android fans are becoming as preachy as the apple fanboys?

FanBoids.

Re:FanBoid? (4, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150662)

FanDroids

There, fixed that for you.

Re:FanBoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150694)

bump
and thank you, Slashdot, for boldly echoing the author's ridiculous spin.

You missed the unique part (3, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150800)

Great, but just about any smartphone can do this, even most of the closed smartphone platforms, nothing special.

The part you quoted, yes, but not the part that kicked the whole thing off: he noticed someone's Facebook status update on his home screen widget. If he had to open an app to get Facebook updates, he wouldn't have seen it, because he had better things to do than browse Facebook.

I don't know about all the other smartphone platforms, but I'm pretty sure this is something the iPhone can't do. It doesn't have widgets; its home screen only shows app icons. You can get push notifications for certain events, but friends' status updates aren't among them, and you likely wouldn't want to get a message for every status update anyway.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150974)

The part you quoted, yes, but not the part that kicked the whole thing off: he noticed someone's Facebook status update on his home screen widget.

Correct. But the person trapped could have just as easily sent a text message to the people he's friends with instead of updating his facebook page and hoping someone would see the status update.

I don't know about all the other smartphone platforms, but I'm pretty sure this is something the iPhone can't do. It doesn't have widgets; its home screen only shows app icons. You can get push notifications for certain events, but friends' status updates aren't among them, and you likely wouldn't want to get a message for every status update anyway.

No I wouldn't. So this right there makes it pretty much useless. Because normal people don't want notifications everytime someone they know updates their home. So, I'm not quite sure how this widget works... does it beep every time someone updates so you know to look at it (if so, how utterly annoying), or was it just blind chance this guy happened to look at his phone at just the right time to see the sos on the widget.

For emergency communications, I want to interrupt people. So a passive facebook widget is a lousy way to get through. You WANT something that makes the recipients phone beep and vibrate. regular text messaging already does this so... why drag some data-mining / advertising behemoth into it? It adds nothing of value.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151644)

Bingo. Lets get rid of 9-1-1, air raid sirens, vehicle backup alarms, police sirens, and warning buzzers; Just post on facebook instead.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151780)

could have just as easily sent a text message to the people he's friends with instead

but it is different, a text message isn't a broadcast to many medium, it is a send to one. Sounds like his friend did send a text message to 32665 that updated his FB status to all of his registered friends. At least with my phone (remember it wasn't started by the smart phone) I can send a text to one person at a time.
It is important, few people thinks of the "oh what if i was stuck in a disaster with all the phone lines overloaded, I should setup a text message to all friends in advance." More of a, already setup the account to notify everyone of the hotties I hooked up with on vacation, but it could work for something else in a pinch.
I do hate defending facebook, but it seams to fit this nicely. IE he notifies as many as possible, friend can then respond to everyone whats he's done, so every friend isn't taking the same action...

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152312)

So, I'm not quite sure how this widget works... does it beep every time someone updates so you know to look at it (if so, how utterly annoying), or was it just blind chance this guy happened to look at his phone at just the right time to see the sos on the widget.

There's no beep, so it was blind chance.

This isn't a story about how Facebook and Android are the future of emergency communications, it's just an interesting anecdote. In this particular case, Android played a key role in getting some people rescued. But you're right, in most situations it wouldn't have mattered.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152440)

Correct. But the person trapped could have just as easily sent a text message to the people he's friends with instead of updating his facebook page and hoping someone would see the status update.

If you'd said twitter, I would've bought it, but texting EVERY person that MAY be able to help? That's awful redundant and subject to error isn't it? This is a broadcast request -- an SOS isn't meant to be sent to one person, its meant to be sent to anyone who'll listen.

For that purpose, Twitter is excellent, Facebook is not bad.

I have both Twitter and Facebook statuses on my Android home screen at all times.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152566)

If you'd said twitter, I would've bought it, but texting EVERY person that MAY be able to help? That's awful redundant and subject to error isn't it?

yes. but its also more likely to reach people. your right, a broadcast SOS feature that sends a help message to all your contacts might be a cool feature. But twitter and facebook aren't that feature. That it worked out incidentally this one time is great, but its not a solution. Its not even the platform for a solution.

I have both Twitter and Facebook statuses on my Android home screen at all times.

That's great. And if some other friend posted about his greasy pizza 3 seconds after the SOS, you'd have missed the message.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153282)

The part you quoted, yes, but not the part that kicked the whole thing off: he noticed someone's Facebook status update on his home screen widget.

Correct. But the person trapped could have just as easily sent a text message to the people he's friends with instead of updating his facebook page and hoping someone would see the status update.

If you are in the middle of a disaster where you don't know anything about the situation outside the building that just collapsed on you, you'd want your message to reach a large number of people to be certain it can reach at least one person who can help you. You can only text a limited number of person and you never know if the message arrived, or if there is someone still alive to read it. With facebook you know you will reach people you would not have thought of, or whose phone number you don't have.
I think the best to do is to use everything you can: text messages to every contact in your phone, and facebook/twitter/etc updates.

Re:You missed the unique part (1)

kapoios (1054802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153686)

The part you quoted, yes, but not the part that kicked the whole thing off: he noticed someone's Facebook status update on his home screen widget. If he had to open an app to get Facebook updates, he wouldn't have seen it, because he had better things to do than browse Facebook.

Man, he has the Facebook app in his home screen... He sure hasn't better things to do.

If he had, he would had put his corporate email, stocks, news, whatelse.

Re:FanBoid? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151080)

"Is it just me that thinks Android fans are becoming as preachy as the apple fanboys?"

It might just be you. I work with lots of people that have both iPhones and other smart phones. No one is "preachy." I think the reason that people think that Mac fans are preachy is simply because people like to repeat that Mac fans are preachy.

Re:FanBoid? (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151298)

Great, but just about any smartphone can do this, even most of the closed smartphone platforms, nothing special. Is it just me that thinks Android fans are becoming as preachy as the apple fanboys?

Of course this story could easily have been about someone who used their iPhone to do the same thing.

However, the iPhone users lost their proprietary chargers and it was going to take over a week to get a new one.

The Android user just had to plug in any old mini-USB cable.

The point being, maybe this phone worked not because it was special, but because it was not special.

Re:FanBoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153804)

Well, I think the angle here was the widget proved to be useful. He saw the message at a glance in passing, without having to open a dedicated app.
 
You can't use widgets on the iPhone.
Your dollars may pay for the device, but Uncle Steve has pretty firm ideas on what the user experience is going to be, and he's the boss.
 
Some people find that annoying, but..... oh look - a new iShiney!

Re:FanBoid? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154412)

Is it just me that thinks Android fans are becoming as preachy as the apple fanboys?

I don't think that's logically possible.

Tech disaster relieft (2, Informative)

enaso1970 (759924) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150636)

There's a lot of great disaster relief open-source stuff going on in Haiti. Check out Sahana for Haiti. Or the work done on the open street maps project for Port-au-Prince. The map was filled in with routing, street, building state, health facility etc. by some good developers who extracted satellite & other data in a few days; to the point where the marines could use it move trucks around the rubble. Like the 2008 Year of Edits for OSM but for one city in days.

Also consider helping openstreetmap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31153386)

It looks like openstreetmap widely used by help organizations in Haiti. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyMTKABxaw4 [youtube.com]

Peer to Peer phone (already covered on Slashdot) (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150666)

http://www.terranet.se/ [terranet.se]

Why are towers a necessity? Oh they might not be. Imagine a world of wide-band fractal antenna peer to peer devices and access points powered by a negotiated free market where you decide $/bit you pay and what provider latency and bandwidth you need.

On a disaster related idea read "Rainbows End" by Vernor Vinge. When the shit hits the fan the military saturates the area with network access points dropped from the air to overwhelm enemy networks and provide infrastructure for their operations. Just rain solar, battery powered, peer to peer mesh AP's on a disaster.

I'm not sure what the Android spin is... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150746)

What's the Android spin, that he happened to notice the message because of the app running on his home screen?

Re:I'm not sure what the Android spin is... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150874)

Yes, exactly that. If he'd had an iPhone, he wouldn't have seen the message without at least opening an app, and he'd have better things to do than check Facebook.

Re:I'm not sure what the Android spin is... (1)

assemblyronin (1719578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150882)

Exactly.

FTA (emphasis mine):

Well, when you are in such a situation, you don’t really think about going to Facebook, but it happens that I have a Facebook widget on my Android home screen that regularly displays status updates from my friends.

He was saying that due to the ability for Android phones to customize their L&F unlike other popular phones, he noticed his friend's update much sooner due to the widget automatically updating on his phones homepage.

The widget updating itself on the homepage gave him immediate data and insight since Facebook wasn't an obvious choice to look for SOS from survivors. Other smart phones, people would have had to check their Facebook newsfeed which they only do every so often... (unless they're a 13 year old.

This lead him to a further realization that maybe other survivors were using Facebook to do a canvasing approach to letting people know they're still alive and need help because they didn't know what else to do in the situation.

FTA:

So, I started scouring Facebook to retrieve all those SOS messages, telling people on mailing lists and on Facebook to forward all SOS messages to me.

Re:I'm not sure what the Android spin is... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152500)

For people who don't get the custom desktop concept on Android, here's a sampling of people posting their desktops on Android phones [androidcommunity.com] .

Screw you pessimists (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31150822)

This is out and outright fucking amazing.

Consider, writing, on a piece of paper 'SOS' - despatching it to a messenger boy (possibly under rubble next to you), who takes it to the nearest train station that then relays it over morse code down the telegraph line, to be received in Cuba, relayed to Florida, then via numerous telegraph operators to Washington to get lost in tens (1x) of messages...

Brand allegiances and political ideology aside - you gotta sometimes take you thumb out of your bum in awe of this.

Android's fucking own... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151006)

nm

Haitian Creole translator for Nokia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151232)

Tradikte - the first Haitian Creole translator for Nokia S60 devices was released today...check it out
http://www.kiranwaka.com/haititrans/ [kiranwaka.com]

No tech to see here...move along.. (3, Insightful)

Savior_on_a_Stick (971781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151432)

If the guy in Haiti had access to update his Fbook status, and was able to send and receive sms - why didn't he just contact the State Department directly?

This story isn't about technology, it's about personal access.

Guy in Haiti didn't have it - so he sends the equivalent of a smoke signal, and is lucky enough that someone notices it and does have access.

This all sounds really contrived, and I'm not impressed.

Accurate Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151452)

It's all about getting accurate intel. It doesn't matter where it comes from!

Ham radio is truly dead... (2, Interesting)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151634)

...and not just because of this story. But let's face it: Very little information (except early reports of the quake itself) was disseminated from Haiti via ham radio. 80% of the cellphone network of the second largest provider in Haiti was re-established within a week of the quake [wsj.com] . Don't believe me? Google "ham radio haiti". As a long-time amateur radio operator who has been proclaiming the demise of ham radio for some years now, the proof is irrefutable: Ham radio has been relegated to the technology basement.

Yes, I know the hams will be coming out of the woodwork, defending their hobby. Or are they defending the large sums of money they've sunk into equipment that serves very little purpose in the way of emergency communications in today's world?

Re:Ham radio is truly dead... (1)

acey72 (716552) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153156)

Troll. Since when was ham radio all about providing disaster comms? It's about radio - the electronics of the transceivers, the physics of propagation, the engineering of masts and antenna (not to forget microwave transceivers, which seems as much to do with precision mechanical engineering as electronics) and add in the mix a bit of old-fashioned social interaction by talking with people. It's a hobby, nothing more, nothing less and as hobbies go, a pretty benign one at that. BTW - I'm not a ham, so no woodwork to crawl out of.

Re:Ham radio is truly dead... (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154768)

Troll. Since when was ham radio all about providing disaster comms?

I'm sorry, you must have missed the memo [arrl.org] .

Ham radio has long been associated with disaster relief. In the early days (perhaps up through the 80s), ham radio operators were often the "first responders" in a crisis. I'm merely pointing out that this is no longer the case. Ironically, one of the reasons why this is true is one you bring up yourself: "It's all about radio." Unfortunately, ham radio has not kept up with technology (except for small pockets of operators). And this is the main reason why ham radio has been left behind.

Ideology is truly dead... (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153256)

We don't need to come out of the woodwork to acknowledge that in this given situation the twins of cheap transceivers and relatively cheap base antennas with back-haul the same, worked out. However if circumstances had been different (and they could) would you be proclaiming the demise of cellular? They both have their strong and weak points and neither was meant to supplant the other except for those betting on a particular horse.

Re:Ham radio is truly dead...Not (2, Interesting)

TrenchWarrior (219169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153334)

There are couple of things that make Port-Au-Prince (PAP) unique.
Haiti gets regularly hit by hurricanes. They have an abysmal electrical system.
During normal times you are lucky to get 10 hours of electricity a day.
There are 4 cell phone carriers, 30 percent of the population owns cell phones.
If you are cell phone carrier, you always want to have 24 hours of operations.
In order to do that in PAP you had to have a very robust generator - fuel supply system and distribution just to handle the "Haiti" normal daily power outages. So post catastrophe - guess what the cell phones came up pretty quick and many got to call the US to relatives to tell them "They are starving and had no water for days". I'm pretty sure no post-apocalyptic fiction writer saw that one possibly happening.
Additionally with only one undersea cable a lot of telecom-traffic is handled by satellite and is also why TV/ISPs were able to deliver video and messages immediately after the quake.
The water system in PAP was also lousy in normal times so water-trucks, walking 5 miles to a kiosk a large portion of the population was used to that. So when the quake hit and the city lost its mains. The water trucks still worked.
So ironically their horrible utilities and the system in place to cope with that saved many in a quake generated catastrophe.

Ham radio does not pretend to replace the phone company / 911 and never did. So you're a little misinformed there. And among the ham radio guys... all 650,000 in the US less than one half percent are trained and have an interest in
emergency communications Even then I am being generous.. probably closer to a quarter of percent.
Yes the ham radios and antennas can cost from 600-2500 dollars depending on your goals, but the equipment lasts 20 years. So exactly how much money have you spent on computer equipment in 20 years and how much is that biyearly cell phone contract? Ham radio plays a very very small but necessary role in helping route emergency information from point A to point B when all else fails it is the last line of communication.
Even in Katrina, the two groups I am credited with helping assist used cell phones to call out to a distant relative, I just completed their call for help to the closest authority. Even in the twitter example it took several hops to find someone who could help.

Ham radios role in Haiti this time can be counted on one hand. I knew one of the two Haitian Ham radio operators that got on air a couple days after the quake. Almost all in the Haitian Radio club had lost a relative to the quake.
How many Ham radio operators do think a very impoverished country as Haiti has? Exactly what is that Haitian radio operator going to say on day two after the quake that we didnt already know. We were sending the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink our neighbors sink in an effort to help take away some of the misery.

As a life long computer geek and later radio geek I applaud ANY means of communications method that saves lives and minimizes human misery.

Every disaster is different... if a category three hurricane hit PAP there would be no cell phone, nor satellite dishes...
But that undersea cable would still be there and radio always works.

AG4ZG

Sahana FOSS deployed for Haiti (1)

rediguana (104664) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151678)

At the risk of burning some Karma, and whoring our own FOSS disaster project... ;)

If anyone is interested in being involved in a FOSS project for disasters, the Sahana Software Foundation is very interested in getting more developers involved in writing software to be used in disaster and emergency management. Sahana was created in Sri Lanka in early 2005 following the tsunami in late 2004. Since then Sahana has been deployed to a number of events in various countries (China, Peru, Philippines, Pakistan, India etc).

Coming back to Haiti, we have deployed our new Python version of Sahana, and it has been very well received, including by the likes of SOUTHCOM and the World Food Programme. In addition, we have been pushing a lot of standards for emergency interoperability, and due to some of our early work implementing the Emergency Data eXchange Language (EDXL) - Hospital AVailability Extension (HAVE), we have a lot of interest in not only FOSS, but also open standards.

We are looking for assistance in further developing Sahana, and these are some of the key skills we are looking for to help with our existing deployment in Haiti (note you don't need them all to be able to work on Sahana):

# Python - all the core coding is undertaken in Python
# web2py - this is the application framework that we use in Python for SahanaPy
# OpenLayers - this is the client javascript library we use for mapping in the browser
# jQuery - additional view tweaks are done using this JavaScript library
# XSLT/XPath - a lot of import/export functionality is created using XSLT templates written using XPath

For more info on our Haiti response, and if you want to help out, check out this wiki page: http://trac.sahanapy.org/wiki/Haiti [sahanapy.org]
Alternatively, jump into #sahana on freenode. If you want to contact me directly, email me - gt at kestrel dot co dot nz

If you read this far, thanks for the attention :)

Cheers Gavin
Board Member, Sahana Software Foundation

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