Maxing out relief impact

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Saundra over at Good Intentions are Not Enough opened up the blog to get advice from aid workers on the most effective ways to provide support to disaster victims such as those in Haiti.  Of particular note is the suggestion that we should not take up collections of goods to send over, as they may clog up the distribution channels and delay the delivery of other aid supplies.  Haiti’s airport is already overburdened.

There also seems to be a general consensus that you should not just go to Haiti to volunteer your efforts.  They don’t just need hands right now.  They need doctors and engineers, and people with experience in search and rescue.  It seems best to just donate money to organizations that already have an established presence in Haiti or demonstrated expertise in disaster relief.

And don’t let it stop there.  Although the earthquake was random, its impact was not.  The soft bigotry of lives worth less can allow for weak building codes and the chronic underinvestment in infrastructure. So remember, donating later can be as valuable as donating today.

She has more good info on lessons learned and the DO’s and DONT’s of disaster relief.

Posted on January 15th 2010 in news

OrgWatch: Ushahidi map-tweets Haiti’s disaster

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Following up on earlier map thoughts, check out what Ushahidi has been doing:

[What is Ushahidi? from Ushahidi on Vimeo]

As mobile communiques become more routine than going to the bathroom, it becomes easy to see how important they will become in coordinating relief in disaster areas.  Ushahidi is already at work in Haiti, tracking collapsed buildings, locating trapped and missing people, and sharing the location of relief services.

Our thoughts are with the people of Haiti; may the response be swift.

Posted on January 14th 2010 in news, OrgWatch

Making maps saves lives

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Google’s Lalitesh Katrigadda speaks on the importance of maps in disaster response and general economic development:

The shocker in this piece is that, as of 2005, only 15% of the world is mapped to the level of detail that many of us who fancy turn-by-turn directions and snickering at burning houses on Google Street View have become accustomed to.

The Google Mapmaker tool gives users satellite images and allows anyone to become a cartographer, mapping the streets of their communities to be viewed by planners, policymakers, emergency responders, and everyday street users.

Disaster relief is of particular importance.  As news of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti spreads, we should consider the capacity for emergency responders to reach people in need.  While natural disasters are tragically random and unpredictable, efficient emergency response has the potential to drastically mitigate their casualties.

We’ve been laying roads on this planet for a pretty long time; we should at least have documentation of what they look like.

Posted on January 13th 2010 in news
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