Alongside donating money to support emergency response and relief efforts that save lives after devastating disasters, what can an ordinary citizen do to help humanitarian works on the ground? Can anything be done with our computers to help Nepal earthquake victims, even during aftershocks?
When a humanitarian disaster happens that calls upon national, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organisations and relief agencies to gear up to save lives – such as delivering clean water and sanitation to thousands – we often ask questions like what are the specific goals of the relief effort? How will we know if they’ve been met? In the wake of disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, uncoordinated and improvisational relief effort that fails to work with the local effort will leave behind tremendous costs on people’s life.
In the era of technology and the internet, virtual networks are desperately needed by aid workers to orientate themselves in order to make relief works efficient under the most adverse conditions. RESET will introduce to you some of the current networks and tools that are being harnessed in Nepal right now.
In November 2014, we introduced the mapping tool The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap that connects community mappers – from ground field mappers to GIS professionals and engineers – through open data and open source software. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) has been active almost 20 hours since the devastating earthquake in Nepal. According to their updates, they began mapping key areas in and around Kathmandu to convey information about roads which are blocked or open and pinpoint areas safe for helicopter landings.
The Humanitarian Digital Exchange is a platform that was launched last summer by the United Nation Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs with the goal of enabling humanitarian agencies worldwide to upload, analyse, and share data that can ease on-ground coordination works. As of Thursday afternoon Hong Kong time, the exchange has logged 54 sets of data to share camp and damages situations, including photos and videos.
Google has also launched a special project named Person Finder, which is currently being applied to the Nepal earthquake. People who are searching for missing loved ones can use SMS or Google’s online-search engine with name of the missing person to try and locate them. At time writing this blog, there were 7400 tracking records. Since it’s a crowdsourced database, people who have information about someone can also report to Google. In our RESET Special ‘Refugee Aid 2.0’, we also covered other digital tools to support and assist refugees to find their missing ones.
We have only gathered a few systems here and there are a lot more online platforms serving humanitarian aid. Know of other digital tools that are helping to exchange information in the wake of Nepal earthquake? Share it on our Facebook page or tweet to RESET.