ReliefWeb: Innovation in post-disaster data collection: From the Caribbean to the world. “Responding and rebuilding first requires data on what has been damaged or destroyed, and where. In the past, data collection was a laborious paper-based process that took months or years. After Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused massive destruction in the region in 2017, UNDP and partners launched a new tool to do such assessments in a matter of days. (UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Multi-County Office partnered with WFP, UNICEF, PAHO/WHO and UN Women.) The tool is a mobile app called HBDA, or Household and Building Damage Assessment. It works on a smartphone or tablet.”
The Leader: Findabed helps Australia’s bushfire evacuees get refuge. “Set up just five days ago, Find A Bed is a service aimed at helping those displaced by the bushfire crisis and already scores have been relocated and the service is receiving new offers of assistance every minute. Erin Riley, from Razorback, NSW, set up the service on New Years Eve when she tweeted out that she had paddocks available for anyone in need of relocating their animals. She was overwhelmed by the number of people who also wanted to volunteer their homes and land.”
University of Southern Mississippi: “War Stories” Project to Capture the Experiences of National Guard Soldiers’ Service in Global War on Terror. “A new initiative of the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will capture and preserve the oral and written story of Mississippi’s National Guard and its service in America’s 21st century military exploits, including the Global War on Terror and managing recovery operations following Hurricane Katrina.”
ReliefWeb: British Red Cross launches new online knowledge-sharing platform. “The hub is a free online platform with over 300 resources, providing a ‘one stop shop’ for anyone mainstreaming community engagement and accountability. Materials range from a ready-to-download three-day training package, to a toolkit designed to help set up and manage complaint and feedback mechanisms in any context.”
Nature: Can tracking people through phone-call data improve lives?. “After an earthquake tore through Haiti in 2010, killing more than 100,000 people, aid agencies spread across the country to work out where the survivors had fled. But Linus Bengtsson, a graduate student studying global health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, thought he could answer the question from afar. Many Haitians would be using their mobile phones, he reasoned, and those calls would pass through phone towers, which could allow researchers to approximate people’s locations.”
CNN: FEMA shared 2.3 million disaster survivors’ personal information with contractor . “Millions of hurricane and wildfire survivors are learning that they’re at ‘increased risk of identity theft and fraud’ because the Federal Emergency Management Agency shared their banking and other private information. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general said Friday that FEMA had unlawfully disclosed the private data of 2.3 million survivors with a federal contractor that was helping them find temporary housing.”
KTIC: Gov. Ricketts Unveils New “Nebraska Strong” Relief Website. “On the website, Nebraskans who need relief can log requests for items ranging from housing to tools. Requests will then be reviewed by the Nebraska Preparedness Partnership before being posted. After they are reviewed, they will then be available for fulfillment by members of the public.” The article also includes phone numbers for specific needs – farmers who need feed stuffs, a general questions hotline, etc.
Google Blog: California fires: how we’re providing aid and ways you can help. “Over the last week, three wildfires have devastated communities in California, and there’s been a tremendous effort—on the part of firefighters, first responders, local officials and NGOs—to contain the flames and help thousands of displaced families. Since the start of the fires, we’ve deployed resources to help those affected in our own backyard. Here’s a bit more on that, and how you can help.”
Quartzy: The Cruelty And Kindness Of Social Media In The Midst Of A Disaster. “There was a time, long before social media was blamed for many of the world’s biggest problems, that digital communities were posited as the utopian replacement to the small-mindedness of staying close to home, close to what we know. Of course, that didn’t turn out so well. We know now that compassion, empathy, and community can’t be provided by a large tech company with a clear profit motive for winning our attention. In times of disaster as well as in times of normalcy, that part is up to us.”
Larry Ferlazzo: Resources On Terrible Camp Fire Near Here & How To Help Victims. “Our area of Northern California is becoming the site of regular and terrible wildfires. Last year it was tragic fire in Santa Rosa, where I had lived for over ten years, and which is an hour away from us (see The Best Resources For Teaching & Learning About The Santa Rosa Fires (& How To Help Victims)). This weekend it’s the horrible Camp Fire – again, a hour away from us.” Quick annotated list.
Penn State: Improving disaster response through Twitter data. “A team of researchers from Penn State, the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, and the Qatar Computing Research Institute created an algorithm that analyzes Twitter data to identify smaller disaster-related events, known as sub-events, and generate highly accurate, real-time summaries that can be used to guide response activities.”
The Mercury News: Airbnb to launch new disaster relief registry in San Jose. “Starting in August, San Jose residents can sign up through Airbnb to offer space in their home, free of charge, to someone fleeing calamity. It’s a service Airbnb has offered for years — but always retroactively after disaster hits. The new tool marks the first time Airbnb is proactively building a database of volunteer disaster hosts. The San Francisco-based home-sharing company planned to announce the new program Saturday at the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Boston. Airbnb hopes eventually to expand the program beyond San Jose.”
KBTX: New tool tracks Hurricane Harvey recovery progress. “On the site you can navigate where funds are going related to the state’s recovery from the hurricane. The Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas is working with the Texas A&M University System to get that information to the public.”
Emirates News Agency: Haya bint Al Hussein launches Humanitarian Logistics Databank. “The long-awaited solution is an information sharing platform dedicated to emergency preparedness and response. It facilitates the collection and sharing of data in real-time on prepositioned aid and humanitarian assets, helping to make emergency responses more timely and cost-efficient…. The Databank will employ automated tracking of aid movements based on customs data from ports, airports, and other entry points. It will provide the global humanitarian community with information on the exact positioning of critical relief items such as food, medicine and shelter, making them accessible to all cooperating parties. This platform will improve collaboration and will help avoid bottlenecks in ports and airports.” It appears to be very early days for this initiative, the announcement also notes: “In its first phase, the Humanitarian Logistics Databank, will begin gathering data on aid shipments from Dubai in 2018. It will then be replicated in other humanitarian hubs across the world by January 2019.”
Forbes: Facebook Now Includes Organizations and Businesses In Crisis Help. “In 2014 Facebook introduced Safety Check so that people in or near disaster areas could check in to let their friends know if they’re OK….That same year, Facebook also launched its Crisis Response center where people could find out more during a crisis, post information, offer help and raise money for victims…. Today, Facebook announced that it has expanded its crisis response to include postings from companies and organizations.”