PRIOR RESPONSE INITIATIVES BY InCrisisRelief.org VOLUNTEERS (the VOICE team)

  1. Uttarakhand Floods:

  1. Scan for #sos tweets of missing people. Direct it to @adgpi. In those times, Army used to sometimes respond directly from their handle. Also tweets redirected to large network of army people on twitter. Several rescues happened this way.
  2. We used phone companies to find coordinates of mobile phones of missing people, and tweeted coordinates to army.
  3. The rescue lists that were coming in were in scattered through various Governmental and Army websites. Several lists were handwritten scans.
  1. First the lists were tracked across the websites. District wise maps were used to zero in location of rescue list.
  2. Then a dedicated set of volunteers worked day and night entering this (sometimes badly scanned handwritten) data into Excel sheets which were then uploaded into our searchable database on Vidyut’s blog.
  3. Several of these lists were in Hindi. So lists were first translated into English and then entered into database. Finally our database had more records—clean, searchable, and verified - than the Army website.
  4. There was a point when Governmental websites were crashing because of overload of users. A mirror website was quickly made on Vidyut’s site to protect info and provide support
  5. Lists (and eventually the database) were also categorized into missing, dead, and rescued.
  1. Google PersonFinder was launched and thousands of people logged in with data of missing people with photos.
  1. Most of the lists were in picture/pdf formats. At first the translations were done manually, but the pictures/PDFs were not of high quality, handwriting difficult to decipher in some cases. Google team chipped in with Crowd Computing and OCR technology which made it easier to decipher the pictures and enter the data in the cloud to make it easier for searching. A total of 14,967 records were transcribed and entered by a team of 8 Googlers in Hyderabad.
  1. Crisismappers in collaboration with Google Crisis Response, a surge support from Humanity Road, and with several volunteers from universities around the world and prestigious organizations (SBTF, Info4, OpenCrisis, HOT, CrisisMappersUK) had developed a district wise situation map of status of area, rescue work, relief camp with relief camp phones, hospitals, roads, control rooms by states, donation centers across India, etc. This was invaluable for those searching for missing people—as even if people figured in rescue list, which relief camp they were sent was confusing.
  2. We used special hashtags to collate rescue/relief tweets.
  3. Organizations like Goonj, calling up relief camps/hospitals across state, local groups in state provided info on immediate relief needs. We updated needs regularly.
  4. No large company shipment via air was facilitated but we advised on several large individual shipments via road.
  5. We had no partners. But in principle, we supported Goonj and advised collection centres drop off at Goonj.
  6. Funding was directed to PM Fund, CM fund, and Goonj.
  7. Since most efforts was located to urban/pilgrims, we also started to track rural areas that were affected. Info gathered either through local groups or through Disha in Noida.
  8. We also started to pull up all existing voluntary groups on ground and began a verification process.
  9. We were careful about groups raising funds without due legal process and refused to RT such folks.
  10. At some point joined in with Humanity Road to get more detailed info on who was doing what on ground and provided the info which we spread.
  11. Transferred info from Twitter to Fb and maintained page. Fb spread was also strong. Many volunteers were picked up from Fb.
  12. We also set up a dedicated website: uttarakhandfloods.wordpress.com wherein we collated all the info we had gathered.

 

  1. Cyclone Phailin

 

  1. This time response was before the fact. Our UK team got back in place and each took up their roles as usual.
  2. Here focus was sending due warning to people. Here we were getting two messages—IMD and @EricHolthaus. The messages on where epicentre was not matching and our fear was Govt would not make adequate arrangements where needed. So lot of the tweets were also directed to political folks.
  3. Again tweets were on hurricane status, evacuation plans, hurricane shelter info. Info gathered from various govt sites, info from journalists in ground tweeting and from phone calls to journos on ground.
  4. This time around, the advance information helped to some extent and evacuations were carried out in time to save many lives.
  5. After it hit, focus was on phone lines cut off, road damage, infrastructure damage, flooding status, and if relief was reaching some of the remote areas. This info was collated into Vidyut’s blog again.
  6. Crisismappers and Humanity Road worked closely. Humanity Road conducted state-wide meeting of many governmental and non-governmental groups and reported out. We promoted info on relief needs based on their inputs on ground situation. Status of blocked roads, running/halted trains were regularly updated in a centralized location. CrisisMappers as complementary in collaboration with Google Crisis Response team and digital volunteers globally from different universities and organizations (SBTF, OpenCrisis, Info4Disasters, HumanityRoad, etc.) worked on similar situation awareness map as for Uttarakhand floods.
  7. Again no partners. No actual bulk relief shipment.  Some attempts were made to get companies to send in shipments. But we never facilitated the shipment.
  8. Again twitter-Fb transfer of data happened. A page was maintained. But not as actively as in UK floods.