Emergency Logistics

Earthquake in Haiti: How You can Help and Learn More

Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Jan 13, 2010

Relief efforts are ongoing after a powerful 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday. Mobile phones play a huge part in relief efforts today, from supporting donations, citizen media coming from affected areas, to emergency relief coordination. Here are some links and information you might find useful in responding to and learning more about the Haiti earthquakes.  

Mobile Donations

[This section last updated 01/15/2010 12:59 pm]

Text message donations are exploding in the aftermath of the earthquake, similar to what happened in 2004 after the Indonesian Tsunami. $9 million has already been donated by noon on Friday January 15 just to the Red Cross via the 90999 number.

A list of all short codes to text to to donate on your phone bill in the United States:

  • Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross for Haiti efforts. You can donate $10 up to three times, and 100% of the donations will reach the Red Cross Foundation. This effort is run by Mobile Accord.
  • Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation. 501501 is run by Give On the Go, a service provider for the Mobile Giving Foundation. Ashley Nay, who is in Business Development at Give On the Go told MobileActive on the phone that "100% of the donations go to YELE" from these donations.
  • Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee.
  • Text RELIEF to 30644 to get automatically connected to Catholic Relief Services and donate money with your credit card.
  • Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation.
  • Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International. 
  • Text HAITI to 85944 to donate $5 to the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International.

A list of all the non-US short codes that we know are serving as donation lines.

  • Germany: text HAITI to 81190 to donate $5 (out of which $4.83 will go to Aktion Deutschland Hilft).
  • Denmark: text Katastrofe to 1231 to donate 150 kr, or call 90 56 56 56. 
  • Canada: text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army, again courtesy of the Mobile Giving Foundation.
  • Italy: text to 48540 to donate to the Italian Red Cross if you are on the WIND or 3 networks. If you are on Vodacom or TIM, text 48451 to donate EUR 2 (Telecom Italia users can also call this number). (Read More)
  • France: 80 222/Croix Rouge française, 80 333/Secours Populaire, et 80 444/Secours Catholique. One euro per SMS. (From a user)
  • Mexico: Telcel users can text 8888, donations will go to the Carlos Slim Foundation (Thanks @sorrelkydd)

More organizations that are working in Haiti in relief efforts are listed on  The NYTimes Lede Blog and more on MSNBC's How to Help page.

Ongoing Communications Efforts

[Update, as of 01/15/2010, ~1:30pm]

  • A good source for ongoing communication information is the Ushahidi Situation Room. We reported about the Ushahidi map for Haiti (Ushahidi is a mapping platform for crowdsourced crisis information) earlier, and it is being actively updated by the situation room setup at Tufts' Fletcher School. The Ushahidi blog also lists many of the other map-based information collection systems that have been set up.
  • This morning, Erik Hersman posted a mobile network update (01/15/2010, 10:03am) on the Situation Room page saying "Digicel is at 50% Voila & Haitel at 75%." USA Today reported yesterday that Jamaica-based Digicel has had problems getting themselves into Haiti, and that "the network is severely congested 'because of the number of people making calls and trying to receive calls.'"
  • A story on MSNBC from yesterday details some of TSF's work in Haiti. From the article:

Telecoms Sans Frontieres is hooking up terminals to facilitate communications for U.N. relief workers in Haiti, and will eventually let Haitians make free two-minute phone calls to anywhere in the world. The group's U.S. representative, Paul Margie, said the biggest challenge isn't technology but security. "The security and logistics situation on the ground is pretty bad, so finding secure locations to do these things is hard," he told me.

[Following was the section as it was posted the day after the earthquake, 01/13/2010, ~1:00pm]

  • We are hearing that Digicel, one of the main mobile operators, is intermittently working as of right now, and satellite telephone services has allowed many first-responders and witnesses to report via skype on the devastation in Haiti. Digicel has also committed $5 million for relief efforts. [WSJ]
  • Telecoms Sans Frontiers is deploying a team for support with emergency telecoms.  You can donate to their efforts at this page. From the article:

Port-au-Prince has been severely affected including critical services such as, electricity, water and phone lines. Communication appears to be almost impossible at this time, with phone lines down. Numerous buildings, including the United Nations building, are reported to have been seriously damaged.

Facing this humanitarian catastrophe, TSF has deployed an emergency team from the American base in Managua to provide a vital support in emergency telecoms. They are carrying satellite mobile and fixed telecommunications tools. Reinforcements will also be sent from TSF’s international Headquarters. In close contact with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), they are now flying to Saint-Domingue in order to rejoin Port-au-Prince as soon as possible.

At this stage there is very limited access because of debris and other obstacles on the roads. It seems that no communication can be made with the airport either, which is reported to be closed.

  • The Crisis Commons wiki is documenting some of the News, Data, and Communications efforts. In particular, they report about two mobile communication service efforts (they seek confirmation whether these are working yet): 

Information from the Ground  

Twitter Lists   

Twitter lists have become a quick-fire way to organize and aggregate  information related to events and topics. Quite a few twitter lists have  been set up by several news organizations after the Haiti  earthquake. Here is a sample:  

The twitter hashtag #haiti and a  search for haiti on twitter yield lots of info.   

US State Department/American Citizens  

Barack Obama in speech to Americans this morning listed  several ways in which the US government is trying to help relief  efforts in Haiti:  

  • Americans seeking info on family in Haiti should call  1-800-407-4747  
  • Updates from the White House's efforts will be put on  The White House Blog. From the Department of State, updates are coming on the official twitter-verified DipNote.
  • DipNote also says: Americans in Haiti can call the Embassy’s Consular Task Force at 509-2229-8942, 509-2229-8089, 509-2229-8322, or 509-2229-8672.   

Live Blogs / Other semi-live coverage  

Many blogs are covering the happenings live, and incorporating photos  and videos coming in from citizen reporters in Haiti:

  • Reuters has a page offering live coverage of events. Includes picture reports coming in through twitter, as well as News from other sources.
  • CNN iReport, a citizen journalism effort, is aggregating citizen-submitted videos and photos on this page.
  • The Lede Blog at the New York Times has ongoing coverage.
  • NPR also has ongoing coverage on its Two Way blog.
  • The Guardian also has liveblogging efforts.

(More here). Compiling citizen voices in Haiti are on this Global Voices Online page, to be updated as more content comes in.


Youtube's search on earthquake Haiti yields many videos, and there are some dedicated channels and playlists on the cause like this one from CitizenTube.

References for Relief efforts

We have also compiled some references for those interested in reading more about previous relief efforts and resources that might help organizations running relief efforts:

If you are aware of other efforts or updates, please leave a comment. 

Earthquake in Haiti: How You can Help and Learn More data sheet 11559 Views
Countries: Haiti

Mobilizing Development: The UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership

Posted by kelechiea on Jun 28, 2011
Mobilizing Development: The UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership data sheet 1101 Views
Vodafone Foundation, United Nations Foundation
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This report takes a journalistic rather than an academic approach. It aims to pique interest, provoke debate, and explore the ideas that emerged from a groundbreaking relationship. It also hopes both to accentuate the Technology Partnership’s many positive results while providing a sense of self-reflection that might benefit other potential partnerships.
Over half a decade of experimentation, the Technology Partnership encountered many challenges and saw a variety of outcomes – some successful, others less so. Some of those outcomes might have been improved by different design, but many were also an unavoidable consequence of a complex world of many players and the fast rate of
technological change.

What emerges clearly, however, is a moment of extraordinary and continued opportunity in which both the humanism of the UN and the action-oriented culture of the private sector will be essential. The potential of this cross-sector collaboration is demonstrated by the work of the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation. Public-private alliances of this kind require sacrifice and hard work but promise a significant boost to global efforts to improve human wellbeing.

mHealth: New Horizons for Health Through Mobile Technologies

Posted by kelechiea on Jun 17, 2011
mHealth: New Horizons for Health Through Mobile Technologies data sheet 1595 Views
World Health Organization (WHO)
Publication Date: 
Jan 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives (mHealth) has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe. A powerful combination of factors is driving this change. These include rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, a rise in new opportunities for the integration of mobile health into existing eHealth services, and the continued growth in coverage of mobile cellular networks.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there are now over 5 billion wireless subscribers; over 70% of them reside in low- and middleincome countries. The GSM Association reports commercial wireless signals cover over 85% of the world’s population, extending far beyond the reach of the electrical grid.

For the first time the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) has sought to determine the status of mHealth in Member States; its 2009 global survey contained a section specifically devoted to mHealth. Completed by 114 Member States, the survey documented for analysis four aspects of mHealth: adoption of initiatives, types of initiatives, status of evaluation, and barriers to implementation. Fourteen categories of mHealth services were surveyed: health call centres, emergency toll-free telephone services, managing emergencies and disasters, mobile telemedicine, appointment reminders, community mobilization and health promotion, treatment compliance, mobile patient records, information access, patient monitoring, health surveys and data collection, surveillance, health awareness raising, and decision support systems.


Extending the Technology-Community-Management Model to Disaster Recovery: Assessing Vulnerability in Rural Asia

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Feb 22, 2011
Extending the Technology-Community-Management Model to Disaster Recovery: Assessing Vulnerability in Rural Asia data sheet 1237 Views
Chib, Arul and A.L.E Komathi
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The recent increase in natural disasters has a significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of the poor in Asia. The spread of information communication technologies (ICTs) in this region’s rural areas suggests the potential of technologies to enhance recovery efforts. While many ICT initiatives have been implemented to aid disaster management, from providing early warning to immediate relief, there exists a gap in the theoretical understanding of the role of technologies in disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

We propose a conceptual framework for understanding the implementation of ICTs in recovery operations, drawing attention to vulnerability reducing potential of the initiatives. We review theories on ICT use in disaster management, and propose the Extended Technology-Community-Management model focusing on vulnerability assessment for the design and implementation of ICT programs for development in rural areas. We illustrate this model using case studies from ICT deployments in post-disaster Asia, particularly India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China, and suggest implications for theory and practice.

Texting to 9-1-1: Examining the Design and Limitations of SMS

Posted by MarkWeingarten on Jan 27, 2011
Texting to 9-1-1: Examining the Design and Limitations of SMS data sheet 1594 Views
4G Americas
Publication Date: 
Oct 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This analysis focuses on SMS as a means to contact 9-1-1 emergency services, with a goal to provide a view of the capabilities, limitations, threats and vulnerabilities of this means of communications. There are millions of SMS messages sent each day and there is a perception that SMS is reliable; however, SMS was never designed as a reliable means for life-saving critical communications. SMS was designed to be secondary to voice calls and was never designed to provide the full and robust communications citizens have come to expect with voice calls. SMS has significant limitations and shortcomings that do not make SMS suitable for emergency communications, especially under life threatening conditions. In conclusion, there are significant limitations inherent in the design of the current Short Message Services which make it impractical to be used for emergency service. However, the industry is fully aware that it is important to address the requirements for people with disabilities as soon as possible. To that end, it is recommended that techniques which are readily available today, such as silent 9-1-1 calls, along with accelerating research and development into emerging technologies such as TTY Emulation, be undertaken while the next generation systems are being designed.

Lessons from Haiti

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jan 11, 2011

A new report from the Knight Foundation analyzes how new technologies were used to aid in the recovery of the earthquake in Haiti. The report -- Media, Information Systems and Communities: Lessons from Haiti -- suggests that the events mark "the beginning of a new culture in disaster relief" in which new and hybrid technologies, including mobile phones, are used to support rescue and relief efforts.

The report mentions a numnber of uses of mobile technology, including:

  • Interactive maps and SMS helped search-and-rescue teams find people in need of supplies
  • SMS messages broadcast critical information to Haitians
  • Hybrid approaches in which mobile technology was used in conjunction with radio

The authors have three main observations:

Lessons from Haiti Report

Lessons from Haiti data sheet 2920 Views
Global Regions:
Countries: Haiti

Mobile Phones and Development: An Analysis of IDRC-Supported Projects

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Oct 12, 2010
Mobile Phones and Development: An Analysis of IDRC-Supported Projects data sheet 3137 Views
Ahmed T. Rashid and Laurent Elder
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

In the context of the rapid growth of mobile phone penetration in developing countries, mobile telephony is currently considered to be particularly important for development. Yet, until recently, very little systematic evidence was available that shed light on the developmental impacts of mobile telecommunication. The Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, has played a critical role in filling some of the research gaps through its partnerships with several key actors in this area.

The objective of this paper is to evaluate the case of mobile phones as a tool in solving development problems drawing from the evidence of IDRC supported projects. IDRC has supported around 20 projects that cut across several themes such as livelihoods, poverty reduction, health, education, the environment and disasters. The projects will be analyzed by theme in order to provide a thematic overview as well as a comparative analysis of the development role of mobile phones. In exploring the evidence from completed projects as well as the foci of new projects, the paper summarizes and critically assesses the key findings and suggests possible avenues for future research.

The Mobile Minute: Nokia's Dual SIM Card Phones, Launch of SwiftRiver, and RIM Delays India's BBM Ban

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 08, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute's coverage will feature release of the data-aggregating program SwiftRiver, feature phones' allure in developing countries, Nokia's entrance into the dual SIM card market, a new book that investigates how ICTs will have an effect on politics and culture in the Muslim world, and how RIM's response delayed India's proposed ban on BlackBerry services.

The Mobile Minute: Opera's State of the Mobile Web, California's Mobile Alert System, and Installing a Mobile Analytics Service

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Sep 01, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute brings you news on the state of the mobile web, California's plan to be the first state with a mass mobile alert system, Cisco's (rumored) move to buy Skype, a guide to installing PercentMobile on different platforms, and results from a study on the effects of SMS reminders for taking birth control pills. 


Posted by evoltech on Aug 27, 2010

March Hare Communications Collective, Inc. (MHCC) is a volunteer mutual benefit corporation that is dedicated to promoting emerging communications technology for the use of public organizing of grass-roots groups and non-governmental organizations. The focus of the March Hare Communications Collective, Inc. is to develop new, secure and open software to be used with existing technologies that will aid community and grass-roots coordination, social networking and organization specifically using mobile technologies. In addition March Hare Communications Collective, Inc. seeks to provide educational materials and trainings on how to use mobile technologies in a safe and effective manner that meets the needs of the user groups. March Hare Communications Collective, Inc. seeks to be a depository of both technologies and information regarding the innovative use of mobile technologies to promote social justice in the US and internationally by grass-root/community groups.

Organization Type: 
1370 Mission St, Floor 4
San Francisco
United States
Postal code: 

Use of Mobile Phones in an Emergency Reporting System for Infectious Disease Surveillance After the Sichuan Earthquake in China

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 24, 2010
Use of Mobile Phones in an Emergency Reporting System for Infectious Disease Surveillance After the Sichuan Earthquake in China data sheet 2466 Views
Changhong Yang, Jun Yang, Xiangshu Luo & Peng Gong
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

Problem Quick detection and response were essential for preventing outbreaks of infectious diseases after the Sichuan earthquake. However, the existing public health communication system in Sichuan province, China, was severely damaged by the earthquake.

Approach The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention set up a mobile phone emergency reporting system. In total, 495 light-powered mobile phones were delivered to local health-care agencies in earthquake affected areas. All phones were loaded with software designed for inputting and transmitting cases of infectious disease directly to a national database for further analysis.

Local setting The emergency reporting system was set up in 14 counties hit hardest by the earthquake in Sichuan province, China.

Relevant changes One week after delivering mobile phones to earthquake-affected areas, the number of health-care agencies at the township level that had filed reports returned to the normal level. The number of cases reported by using mobile phones accounted for as much as 52.9% of the total cases reported weekly from 19 May to 13 July in those areas.

Lessons learned The mobile phone is a useful communication tool for infectious disease surveillance in areas hit by natural disasters. Nevertheless, plans must be made ahead of time and be included in emergency preparedness programmes.

MobiCollect Project

Posted by shripal on Aug 10, 2010
MobiCollect Project data sheet 2199 Views
Shripal Parekh
Publication Date: 
Jul 2010
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The  usage  of  mobile  phones  is  abundant  in  our  daily  lives  in  various  aspects from making phone calls or sending text messages to checking e-mails or news updates to planning our activities or managing our budget. This project aims at making use of this wide spread usage of mobiles to help in the  data  collection  process.  It  designs  and  develops  a  web  based  system  called “MobiCollect”  that  is  used  for  creating  forms  or  questionnaires  to  be  later accessed  by  the  data  collectors  using  their  mobile  phone  web  browser  in  order fill in the form with the appropriate data. 
Once  the  system  design  and  implementation  is  completed  it  will be  tested  and evaluated to ensure the satisfaction of at least the minimum requirements of the proposed system.


How to RapidSMS

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jul 23, 2010
How to RapidSMS data sheet 7327 Views

A how-to guide on using and implementing RapidSMS for mobile data collection and communication.

Ths manual give an overview for how to implement and use RapidSMS in a mobile data collection project. RapidSMS is a SMS framework for data collection, group coordination, and complex SMS workflows.  The tutorial outlines when and when not to use RapidSMS, guides the user through project steps and milestones, outlines factors for a successful implementation, and provides worksheets for project planning. Example training materials are included.

More documentation and developers guides can be found here on the RapidSMS site.

Mobile Tools: 

Malaria Kills: Distributing 63 Million Bednets in Nigeria with RapidSMS

Posted by PenelopeChester on May 25, 2010

The human and economic cost of malaria in Nigeria is staggering. There are currently 110 million clinically diagnosed cases in a population of 151 million.  Malaria kills 250,000 children under five years old in Nigeria every year, and is the cause of 11% of maternal deaths. 60% of out-patient visits and 30% of hospitalizations in the country are malaria-related.

In addition to the enormous toll malaria takes on public health, it is also expensive. 132 billion Naira (USD $870 million) is lost every year in the form of malaria prevention and treatment costs and from the loss of overall economic productivity.

 And yet in spite of the risk malaria poses to the Nigerian people, health surveys from 2006 to 2008 indicated that only 8% of households in the country owned at least one insecticide-treated net (So-called ITNs).

Malaria Kills: Distributing 63 Million Bednets in Nigeria with RapidSMS data sheet 10317 Views
Countries: Nigeria

Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces Last Call for Innovation Project

Posted by MHut on Jan 28, 2010

The Vodafone Americas Foundation is announcing the last call for nominations for the second annual Wireless Innovation Project, a competition to identify and reward the most promising advances in wireless related technologies that can be used to solve critical problems around the globe. Proposals will be accepted through February 1, 2010, with the final winners announced on April 19, 2010 at the annual Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, California. 

Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces Last Call for Innovation Project data sheet 4830 Views
Global Regions:
Countries: United States


Posted by jjackson on Oct 05, 2009

Organization Type: 
529 Main St, Suite 606
Postal code: 

Dialog - University of Moratuwa

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Aug 28, 2009

The Dialog - UoM Mobile Communications Research Laboratory specializes in applied research in mobile telecommunication technologies and internet applications. The activities of the Research Laboratory focus on stretching the frontiers of applied mobile technologies through research and development pertaining to initiatives of national and regional significance. The Laboratory is funded by Dialog Telekom and harnesses the leading edge technical capabilities inherent to the company, its parent Telekom Malaysia Bhd and the University of Moratuwa. This is the first fully industry-sponsored research laboratory to be established in a University in Sri Lanka. Also it is the country’s first laboratory for research and development in mobile communications.

Organization Type: 
Sri Lanka


Posted by PrabhasPokharel on Aug 27, 2009

Organization Type: 

Crisis Informatics: Studying Crisis in a Networked World

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 13, 2009
Crisis Informatics: Studying Crisis in a Networked World data sheet 2376 Views
Palen, Leysia, Sarah Vieweg, Jeannette Sutton, Sophia Liu and Amanda Hughes (2007).
Publication Date: 
Oct 2007
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Serious crises and disasters have micro and macro social arrangements that differ
from routine situations, as the field of disaster studies has described over its 100-year history.
With increasingly pervasive information and communications technology (ICT) and a
changing political arena where terrorism is perceived as a major threat, the attention to crisis
is high. Some of these new features of social life have created real change in the sociology of
disaster that we are only beginning to understand. However, much of what might seem to be
new is not; rather ICT makes some behaviors more visible, in particular first response and
altruistic activities. Even so, with each new crisis event, the calls for technological solutions
and policy change come fast and furious, often in absence of empirical research. Our lab is
establishing an area of sociologically informed research and ICT development in the area of
crisis informatics. Here, we report on some of the challenges and findings when conducting
empirical study where the subject of attention is disperse, emergent and increasingly
expanding through on-line arenas. We specifically consider the challenge of studying citizen-
side information generation and dissemination activities during the April 16, 2007 crisis at
Virginia Tech, which we have investigated both on-site and on-lin

ICT for Disaster Management

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 08, 2009
ICT for Disaster Management data sheet 2795 Views
Wattegama, Chanuka
Publication Date: 
Jan 2007
Publication Type: 

Since the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC)
together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have taken initiatives to study the
current situation of emergency communications in the Asia-Pacific countries and to give
recommendation on national emergency telecommunication and national early warning system
setups.Assessments were conducted in Bangladesh,Maldives and Sri Lanka on these emergency
communication systems. To enhance early warning systems, ADPC, under the Indian Ocean
Early-Warning System programme, also introduced the Tsunami Alert Rapid Notification System
Programme with emphasis on robust ICT systems to disseminate information and warnings from
the national to the community level.

In line with this, the following is an e-Primer brought to you by the United Nations
Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP) and
the Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for
Development (APCICT).I am confident that this e-Primer will play an effective role in enhancing
and propagating awareness of various ICT tools and will serve as a guide to policy makers,
disaster management practitioners and media personnel on how best to use ICT tools to
successfully counter the threat of disaster.

Final Evaluation Report: Emergency capacity building project

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 08, 2009
Final Evaluation Report: Emergency capacity building project data sheet 2377 Views
Margie Ferris Morris Daniel E. Shaughnessy
Publication Date: 
Jul 2007
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

The Management of the Emergency Capacity Building Project called for a final evaluation of the Project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft Corporation to assess progress towards its stated goal and outcomes “to improve the speed, quality and effectiveness of the humanitarian community in saving lives, improving welfare and protecting the rights of people in emergencies.” The main objective of the evaluation is to review progress towards project objectives and goals, to inform future endeavors, and to learn. The primary users of the Final Evaluation are the Senior Managers at the IWG agencies, the Interagency Working Group Emergency Directors, project donors, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft Corporation, as well as agency staff working on the project. The evaluation used a mixed methods approach, including interviewing individuals, holding focus group discussions with most agencies, and conducting two field surveys, one to partner organizations and one to field staff. A limitation to the evaluation was less than full access to field perspectives due to time/resource constraints and the practical inability to contact all the key staff and partners, as well as non-IWG contacts involved in the project – there simply were more than time permitted (over 500 persons). However, 93 agency staff, partners and non-IWG agencies and individuals were interviewed or surveyed. Because of the complexity of the project, evaluators were given a greater page limit to address all the points in the Terms of Reference.

Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Uses of Social Media in the 2007 Southern California Wildfires

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 08, 2009
Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Uses of Social Media in the 2007 Southern California Wildfires data sheet 1843 Views
Sutton, Jeannette; Palen, Leysia ; Shklovski, Irina
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Opportunities for participation by members of the public are expanding the information arena of disaster. Social
media supports “backchannel” communications, allowing for wide-scale interaction that can be collectively
resourceful, self-policing, and generative of information that is otherwise hard to obtain. Results from our study of
information practices by members of the public during the October 2007 Southern California Wildfires suggest that
community information resources and other backchannel communications activity enabled by social media are gaining
prominence in the disaster arena, despite concern by officials about the legitimacy of information shared through such
means. We argue that these emergent uses of social media are pre-cursors of broader future changes to the institutional
and organizational arrangements of disaster response.

Online forums supporting grassroots participation in emergency preparedness and response

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 08, 2009
Online forums supporting grassroots participation in emergency preparedness and response data sheet 3222 Views
Palen, Leysia; Roxanne Hiltz, Starr ; Liu, Sophia B.
Publication Date: 
Mar 2007
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

"When danger arises, the rule in normal situations is for people to help those next to them before they help themselves."

Interoperable Communication: An Analysis of SMS Text-Message Exchange

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 07, 2009
Interoperable Communication: An Analysis of SMS Text-Message Exchange data sheet 2462 Views
Avery, Elizabeth Gomez; Turoff, Murray
Publication Date: 
Jan 2007
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Achieving interoperable communication across governmental agencies and jurisdictions remains a challenge and is
simply taking time to implement. Initiatives to support agency interoperability continue. However, community
responders remain in need of two-way device quick response tactics. SMS text-messaging is one viable
interoperable communication technology that provides a bottom-up approach while offering benefits for everyday
use. This research in progress studies the use of a web-based SMS text-message training application, designed to
simulate two-way SMS text-message exchange. Speech Act Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior are
leveraged to carefully measure SMS text-message exchange. The overarching crisis scenario takes the role of the
local community responder. Initial qualitative pilot results are presented and discussed, including next steps for this
ongoing research.

Advanced Mobile Communications for Emergency Management and Crisis Response

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 07, 2009
Advanced Mobile Communications for Emergency Management and Crisis Response data sheet 1673 Views
Bowman, Michael
Publication Date: 
Jan 2008
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Reliable communications can be a matter of life-and-death during an emergency or crisis.
First responder communication system interoperability, coverage, and flexibility are among
the most critical issues evident from events such as the terrorist attacks of September 11
2001, the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, and Hurricane Katrina.
Murray State University and research partners are addressing these issues under grants from
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Cooperating with government officials and first
responders, the team has prototyped, demonstrated, and operated robust yet affordable
mobile communications systems particularly well suited for field operation in rural
environments and small communities. Work has progressed beyond demonstrations to
deployments with first responders for actual emergencies, and initial sales of the systems.
The developed system is called the Man-portable and Interoperable, Tactical-Operations-
Center (MITOC). MITOC is a suite of mobile communications gear that upon arrival at an
emergency is quickly transfigured into a robust communications infrastructure including
satellite communications, wireless LANs, Internet access, radio interoperability, VoIP, and
other services essential for organizing and executing crisis response.
Work is currently focused on: the integration of rapidly expandable coverage using mesh
network technology that stretches the MITOC wireless bubble right to the site of an
emergency; advanced services and applications; and integration into other emergency
response systems. This paper describes requirements for mobile communications for
emergency management; the current capability of MITOC; initial manufacturing and sales of
the current system; and future research directions.