In Doha: Internet of Things and Smart Cities

Doha Skyline from the water (November 2015)

Construction, traffic and weather – these are the main topics that people talk about in Doha. All around there is this a massive pulse of change accompanied by many threads of activity. Resilience and knowledge economy are fed by this energy of bright minds congregating on this big shift plain.
Cities around the world are preparing their smart city or Internet of Things (#IoT) policies and practices. Doha is on this same journey. Cities that create together breathe.

ictQatar hosts #IoT and Smart Cities event

Humans connected to machines, machines connected to humans. It often seems like such a far off concept. But the convergence of the Internet of Things (Web of Things) and Smart Cities is creating a space where the data bits and the human bits become parts of the big data analytical questions. Layering citizen data (citizen sensing) with open data or sensor data is really the next level of social innovation. We want to interact and make sense of our environment and make decisions about how the space can or should be used.

ictQatar hosted an event last night: Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities.

ictQatar connects people to the technologies that enrich their lives, drive economic development & inspire confidence in the future.

Dr. Elyes Ben Hamida from Qatar Mobility Innovation Center (QMIC) spoke with the community on the topic of Internet of Things (IoT). How can we which is build a future where every day physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices. At QMIC, they have created a product, Labeeb – an intelligent sensing and M2M services platform. During the Q&A period, there were some great questions about how can this research and the tools or datasets be activated to spur new entrepreneurship. Music to my eyes. While IOT may not be the first concept that comes to your mind when you think about Doha, what this talk demonstrated for me is that same undercurrent I encounter all around town. People want to dig into the data and activate it. They want to start businesses and gain a sense of play. While Labeeb is a closed system, there are many opportunities with IoT (Web of Things) can become part of Doha’s entrepreneurship story.

Doha was listed #41 on the Sustainable Cities Index.
This is a call to action for the citizens and creatives of Doha. While government bodies like ictQatar work on the policies and negotiate the murky waters of trying to implement projects with few local context examples, there is this burgeoning undercurrent of people who want to capitalize and innovate using the doors that open with the dialogue of Smart Cities. Mr. Ahmed Hefnawi from the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology presented the basics of smart cities including how “information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents.” There are a number of business and governmental initiatives around Smart Cities in Doha. The biggest take away I took form this was how small businesses and entrepreneurs could also be part of the solution. A few of the attendees inquired about how they could get more involved or how they could access the Open Data of Qatar to build apps or programmes. Step by step.

All of this brings me to the key point: Every day Doha surprises me with the collective drive to the future. There are big ideas activating Doha. While my new home may only be #41 on the Sustainable Cities Index, but I expect that the progression is changing. The Social Innovation programme at QCRI is keen to use research social computing for Resilient Cities. We are keen to see how we can focus on Doha. Already, colleagues are digging into Traffic data.

Thanks to Julia Astashkina of ictQatar for an engaging night.

(Photo: Doha Skyline from Katara on a Dhow (November 2014))


Computers that Think and our Role

What is our role as software developers, research scientists or startup leaders? The very computer software and hardware that we create are changing lives. It is truly inspiring to learn of this advanced computing science of teaching computers. But, what is our role in this? What is the impact of our work on the lives of others? Prasenjit Mitra asked us these very questions during his TedxEducationCity (Doha) talk this past Saturday. Dr. Mitra is a Principal Scientist, Data Analytics at Qatar Computing Research Institute.

 Prasenjit Mitra @ TEDxEducationCity

As innovators, it is important to consider these factors. Often I write about the positive work and changes that these software innovations deliver. But, this comes with responsibility to create wisely and take care of our neighbours. To that end, last year I hosted a workshop on Data Ethics at Stanford University. As an data advocate and someone who works with human computing/machine language processing, I continue to be contemplate the digital cowboy behaviour which may have negative connotations on the very people we may be intended to support and/or research. As a new staff member at QCRI, it matters that my colleagues really consider our role and try to create within a socially and ethically responsible framework. There is no TedX video yet, so take my word that he was an engaging presenter in a conversation way. Please do review the slides with this in mind. Congratulations, Dr. Mitra.

Mindless: How Smart Computers are making Dumber Humans

I literally just finished reading the book, Mindless; How Smart Computers are making Dumber Humans, before attending TedxEducationCity. It provides a wide angle lens into management software (metrics over human conversations) and computational decision-making in various industries. While it is focused on primarily the US economy, the final chapter about China was frightening. While I am a strong advocate of computers and technology for social good, I think that we need to have more conversations about the impact and consequences.

About the book:
“In Mindless, Simon Head argues that these systems have come to trump human expertise, dictating the goals and strategies of a wide array of businesses, and de-skilling the jobs of middle class workers in the process. CBSs are especially dysfunctional, Head argues, when they apply their disembodied expertise to transactions between humans, as in health care, education, customer relations, and human resources management.”

Happy reading!


Break into Conversation with MIT and Michael Stonebraker

The Doha knowledge economy mandate means free and frequent access to global technical and entrepreneur leaders. A few weeks ago I attended an event Your Middle East Start-up and heard a compelling talk from Swedish Ambassador, Ewa Polano on how entrepreneurship means fostering innovation. Well, this week, serial entrepreneur Michael Stonebraker will be at the Qatar National Convention Centre to talk about “How to Start a Company in Five (maybe not so) Easy Steps by Michael Stonebraker”.

Michael Stonebraker at QCRI
If you are a local Entrepreneur or curious, the team at Qatar Computing Research Institute would like to invite you to hear Mr. Stonebraker’s talk on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Register here for free.

About Michael Stonebraker: A pioneer of database research and technology for more than 40 years, Mike Stonebraker has founded nine start-ups to commercialize database technologies. In this talk, he discusses his experiences and the steps one needs to take to get a new venture off the ground. He will touch on topics such as intellectual property, incorporation, distribution of ownership, and will also highlight pitfalls to avoid.

Mike is an adjunct professor at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and co-founder and co-director of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Big Data.


QCRI MIT CSAIL Annual meeting

MIT and QCRI: Project Overviews

We invite you to join the annual research project review meeting by QCRI and MIT-CSAIL. On Sunday, March 22, 2015, we will dive into the current projects and progress. This special event provides more detailed look at technical innovations from this collaboration. One of the projects includes my Social Computing colleagues: Punya – a easy apps development platform for humanitarians.
Register for free here.

Both events are at the Qatar National Convention Center. See you there!


Play Data: Analyzing Gaming Interactions and Behaviour

A sense of play can teach us about interaction and behaviour for online communities. Where can we find a large dataset for this type of research? Well, Jaideep Srivastava, Social Computing Research Director Qatar Computing Research Institute, recently presented results from hours of not playing the Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPGs). Instead, he and colleagues massively played with user data. His analysis of some of the results highlight the need for all communities to really look at the user experience while building mechanisms for mentoring and feedback. For those of us who spend time trying to foster and grow healthy communities, we often turn to metrics. Online communities need to dig into the interaction data. But, that is a topic for another day. Let’s dig in some of the highlights of Jaideep’s work.

Jaideep Srivastava MLDAS Dr. Jaideep Srivastava presented Understanding Social Dynamics Tools & Techniques: Interaction and Behaviour in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (PDF) at the Machine Language and Data Analytics Symposium, an event hosted by the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Boeing (Doha, March 9 – 10 2015). The symposium convened researchers, practitioners, students, and industry experts in the fields of machine learning, data mining, and related areas to present recent advances, to discuss open research questions, and to bridge the gap between data analytics research and industry needs on certain concrete problems.

MMORPGs record every interaction of tens of millions of players. This is a research scientist’s data set dream. How can we understand behaviour and interaction in these games? What can it teach us to build better software? Stronger communities? And, my big takeaway, how can we activate this type of research to better support spaces for other communities like Digital Humanitarians? Why do people stay involved in games and why do they leave?
Churn in online games

Dr. Srivastava and team analyzed the relationship between social engagement, trust and player retention. Turns out that we all want a small town online. We want to have a virtual cup of coffee (or tea) with our neighbours. His analysis of Everquest’s community shows that stability and success can potentially be attained by building socialization and being mindful of opportunities to build trust within the game. Plus, he highlights how this interaction and behaviour data proves that community is a profit center. The gaming community shows this with their costs for add-ons and features. Other communities need to think about these lessons as they build great places to do __(fill in the blank)___ together. And, software creators need to think about community and feedback loops as part of their design from the beginning.

How are you analyzing your community data?

Digital Humanitarian and Open Source communities could learn a lot from other global online communities, especially these successful gaming communities. Over the years, I have spoken with software developers and funders about the power of community. Often, I hear: We don’t fund or prioritize community because there is no profit from it. Well, this continues to be a myopic view. If you want results (re: shiny metrics), you need to nurture and invest. While not all communities have access to data stores like these large MMORPGs or access to top notch researchers, we can still learn.

RESOURCES: Jaideep’s slides for Understanding Social Dynamics Tools & Techniques: Interaction and Behaviour in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (PDF) and his paper on Churn Prediction (PDF download)

This is why I am so excited at QCRI to be given the opportunity to collaborate on research and open source software development with a focus on local community engagement. You see, in the middle east, things get done by building strong relationships. (To be honest, I think that this values exist all over the world, but is just sometimes overlooked.) It is my hope that we can build on Dr. Srivastava’s work for our software in QCRI Social Innovation with a focus on Qatar. There is a burgeoning Qatari online community in many social forums. While the Qatari social data sets are not in the millions of users, it is home and we are neighbours.


You Verify, All the time

We are all human magnifying glasses and zoom features. Every day our task as humans is to discern, detect and distill. In Doha, this means things like self-protection: “Is it safe to cross this street and will the cars stop?” I’ve been super adept at the squint and run carefully looking for fast moving SVUs that appear out of nowhere. Online we are even more critical observers. We’ve been subject to hoaxes, photoshop fantasies and curious statements that are too good to be true.

magnifying glass

Over at Jump2Spot, my colleague, Chung Wong is a member of the Manhattan before 1990 GeoSleuthing Facebook community. I’ve been monitoring their work for a few months and am in awe of their digital detective work in a crowdsourced community effort. They inspire me about the future of online verification. Geosleuthers are the future of online verification. While there is a bit of a hierarchy from journalism to digital humanitarians, what binds us all is our curiousity and our drive to find accuracy.

How can we know if an image or a comment is true and verified? During times of crisis and emergency, this massive volume of True and Untrue unfolds at a fast pace. Humanitarians, NGOs and citizens want to know asap what is verified and actionable in order to make critical decisions. Veri.lyconnects you via global crowdsourcing challenges for evidence collection and verification. Our goal is to build this open source software and community to unravel these puzzles in real time.

Meet Veri.ly

In this 30 minute conversation, I interview the Veri.ly team with our special guest, Craig Silverman, a co-author of the Verification Handbook.

Thanks to our guests, participants and team for this great conversation. There were some questions as well.

1. Could Veri.ly be used in conflict prevention?
Answer: As with any software, it is about the programme around the tool. The key would be to apply the tool while safeguarding the privacy and security of individuals? We would be happy to continue this discussion. Join our mailing list to ask other Digital Detectives.

2. Where lies the automation in the process? Can we see the platform live? How are users onboarded?
Veri.ly can be found on our website. See our Digital Detective Verification guides and involved in building the programme and tools.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, we will be planning more online conversations, share our development and programme plans. Stay tuned!

Veri.ly is a collaboration between University of Southampton (Agents, Interaction and Complexity Research Group), Qatar Computing Research Institute (Social Computing), and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Social Computing and Artificial Intelligence Lab). Server space is provided by the generous support from ORCHID Project.

(Icon credit: Alexandria Eddings, Noun Project CCBY)


Opportunity Knocks: Maps and Data Jobs

What if your work day involved creating software and programmes that could make a difference? I often refer people to ICT4D Career Network that Wayan Vota and crew curate or Relief Web or Liberation Tech jobs list. [Edit: A friend shared these resources too: ​​Social Enterprise Jobs and ReWork Please share these with your network as they are amazing resources.]

In the past 5 years, there has been a growth in jobs in the technology for change/humanitarian space. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of these organizations. Truly, the number of consultant and full-time jobs is growing, so if you are ready to join the Tech for Change career track, do keep in touch. People often send me jobs as I network frequently. I really defer to Wayan’s list often, but sometimes groups hire less formally or just need a short-term person.

There are two opportunities that I wanted to give a big shout out.

MicroMappers Consultancy

Map icon

At Qatar Computing Research Institute, we sometimes hire technical and research consultants via odesk. These are often very short directed items. My colleagues seek your help. You will work on a mapping interface for the MicroMappers project. While you won’t report to me, I work with this team. (code), (context).

  • Experience in Google Map, Google Map Engine, OSM, OSM plugins, Mapbox, CartoDB, css, html5, jquery, mysql, geotif, geojson
  • Familiar with push notification technology. e.g. pusher, SNS
  • Familiar with web optimization
  • good sense of WEB UI/UX
  • Should be able to install java spring web application for testing. The application is built with java spring mvc, spring integration, spring bus

If you are keen, please contact Senior Software Engineer, Ji Lucas (jikimlucas AT gmail dot com)
(Note: While we are not hiring full-time developers right now. Please do review our work at QCRI Social Innovation and get in touch if you are interested so that I can share with proper channels when the time is right.)

Datakind is your future

Data Scientist icon
What can I say? I am a big fan of Datakind’s team and strategy. Want to work with top notch data scientists and partners making a difference int he world?They work on real data science with non-profits. Their projects are fantastic because they spend substantial time really digging into the problem set. The one role that I think is super plum is the Director of Global Communities. Community Management and Partnership building is a really niche area. I think it is a fantastic opportunity to support data scientists around the world. Please do get in touch directly with Jake and his team.

(Image credits: Map icon is by Mister Pixel and the Data Scientist icon is by Thibault Geoffroy. CCBY via Noun Project)


Getting involved in HFOSS


[Cross-post from Opensource.com: This article is part of the HFOSS column coordinated by Jen Wike Huger. To share your projects and stories about how free and open source software is making the world a better place, contact us at osdc-admin@redhat.com].

Lending a digital hand for humanitarian projects is just a click away. Whether you have five minutes or a few hours, you can make a difference with a variety of HFOSS projects. The level of skills required vary from web search, verification, mapping, translation, training, and open source software development. Along the journey of changing the world, you can meet like minds and hone your skills. The key is to ask yourself: What do I want to do? How can I get started? How can I find the right project and community?

Over the years, Opensource.com has featured a number of articles about HFOSS and digital humanitarianism. We are in an unprecedented time of openness for international governmental organizations (INGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Citizens and civil society have a place at the table to affect change via digital humanitarian efforts, often using free and open source software.

This primer provides an overview and touches on some amazing projects.

DHN logos

What can I do?

Many of you already contribute to open source projects, or you arrived at Opensource.com to seek a new adventure. When it comes to HFOSS, remember that you can’t break the Internet by trying. There is an element of seriousness and a sense of “matter” which might deter you. Don’t worry, we have a sense of humor and camaraderie like many open source communities.

Digital humanitarian communities vary in size, structure, and focus. There are well-established groups like Sahana Foundation or Ushahidi, as well as the growing Digital Humanitarian Network. Each of these organizations, and many more digital communities, seek your expertise. Sometimes theses groups have full blown “get involved” programs complete with “community task” labeled GitHub repositories, while others are just getting started.

Each community needs seasoned open source friendly leadership, mentorship, and development. Digital humanitarian communities also have more diverse opportunities to do small to large tasks. You do not need to develop code to contribute, though many of the HFOSS projects count on open source ethos and software development to thrive.

This is a quick cheat sheet to show you how you can get involved in HFOSS. The list is by no means complete, but it gives you an idea of how you can make a difference. Keep in mind that some of the communities require only small bits of time (less than 5 minutes to crowdsource or microtask), whereas others can evolve to larger tasks. And, if you are a serial volunteer like me, you can join a board or become an advisor. There is simply no shortage of opportunity. We, the HFOSS organizers, just need to find ways to make it easier for you to get involved.

11 ways to start with HFOSS

Task HFOSS community
Learn AIDR, all the projects
Map MapAction, Ushahidi, MicroMappers, Sahana, Standby Task Force, Google Crisis Response, Crisismappers, Esri, Mapbox, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, GIS Corps and many more
Data Statistics without Borders, DataKind many of the listed projects
Technology Disaster Tech Lab, UAViators, Public Lab, Brck
Tell all the projects
Share Humanity Road, Veri.ly, CrisisCommons, Info4Disasters and all the projects
Translate Translators without Borders, all the projects
Reward Open Badges
Lead all the projects
Teach School of Data, all the above projects
Make Peace Geeks, Geeks without Bounds, all the projects need open source contributors

Each of these groups provide value insights, software-driven products, and information management to support humanitarians. The drive to participate openly and to have all the details shared openly is compelling. The key question becomes: what if the time I spent volunteering on humanitarian responses and/or software could make a difference in someone’s life?

With the Digital Humanitarian Network providing a direct collaboration avenue, this hypothetical question is becoming a possibility. My colleague at Qatar Computing Research Institute, Patrick Meier, recently published a book, “Digital Humanitarians,” all about the rise of these groups. Now is the time to find ways to better connect our efforts with the larger open source and corporate social responsibility programs. If we are collaborating with the official humanitarian groups, how can we better reinforce our partnerships with our big brothers and sisters in open source?

The big dream

This community builders Infogr.am chart should help community managers to think about programs and strategic planning from the point of view of the contributor. It is focused on the types of tasks that people might want to contribute and the suggested time allotment. In reviewing various HFOSS sites, there is not really an up-to-date master index by skills required or types of projects. The onus is really on new upcoming groups and organizations to tap into the larger open source network. There are many established digital humanitarian organizations that need to be added to this wiki. Finding this site has given me homework. If you have any suggestions, please do edit away.

HFOSS organizers need to make is easier to help people get involved. One recommendation that I have is a simple navigator that asks people what they want to do or what they want to give. The aggregator would then help match them to tasks and communities. Think of it as a global Match.com for giving. We would give love to open source organizations, corporations, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and citizens. Truly, this is all hands on deck to make it possible for anyone and any organization to connect. We could tailor it with the code to help people choose their own adventure based on topic, time, location, and their learning/doing/giving path. Really, we need to dream big more and build it.

To find your way in HFOSS, you might hear a talk, see a tweet, then join a mailing list, participate in a working group, or scan a Wiki/website to drill into the types of tasks and contributions you can offer. What if there was a “Hot or Not” or “Ask not” (Mozilla community code) tool that allowed new contributors to find various HFOSS projects based on the contributor’s interests, time available, and skills? This type of user-driven search tool already exists for odesk and LinkedIn, which has the awesome volunteer.linkedin.com.

Now is the time

Humanitarians are at the table with HFOSS. We have a huge opportunity to give back our knowledge and skills to support people around the world. The World Humanitarian Summit is hosting online and in-person consultations to help the traditional organizations move forward. Many INGOs and NGOs are turning to digital humanitarian, civil society, and software organizations to provide input to affect change. There are amazing innovators like Andrej Verity of UN OCHA calling for open humanitarianism. (See the new Open Humanitarianism website for more details.) Your help on these individual HFOSS projects or the larger goals is needed. All you need to do is take the step and ask yourself: “How can I help?” We will welcome you! Every interaction is a gift.

Beginners to
Open Source

A collection of articles about how to get started in open source.

(Photo note: DHN logos from the Digital Humanitarian Network website.)


Open Source and Mapping Communities in Qatar?

Katara stage

Everywhere I travel in the world there are open source and mapping communities. Sometimes you just have to ask around to be connected. There is a vibrant technology and innovation community in Qatar and in the Gulf (GCC). But what of communities focused on open source? Mapping? As a new resident of Doha, I am keen to connect with other advocates. Every city and job I have had involves some component of open source or mapping. Plus, I am a bit of a community firestarter known to simply organize a meetup on topics of interest.

At Qatar Computing Research Institute, part of Qatar Foundation and based in Doha, we create open source software for social innovation and humanitarian efforts. Tasked with building an open source ecosystem, I am simply excited to meet like minds and encourage local citizens, especially students to get involved in our work. Two of our open source software projects are used globally: AIDR (Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Response) and MicroMappers. AIDR combines human computing with artificial intelligence to automatically identify relevant information in very large volumes of tweets and text messages (SMS). MicroMappers is a collection of microtasking apps called Clickers used to crowdsource the analysis of tweets, text messages, Instagram pictures, Youtube videos, satellite imagery as well as UAV/aerial imagery. We have been featured in the Guardian, Mashable and more.

Who are the existing open source communities in Qatar and the GCC? Are there any OpenStreetMap, Crisismappers, Digital Humanitarians or simply mappers around? A quick survey shows that Maptime does not exist here yet. That might be my first project once I acclimatize.

Are you in Qatar or the GCC and keen to collaborate on software projects or technology for good? I’ve created this list but I think there are gaps. Please connect me or introduce yourself.

Qatar Open Source and Mapping Communities

This is a rough assessment of the open source ecosystem in Qatar. I’d also be happy to meet allies and folks in the GCC. Help me improve this list.

If you have a contact, even better! My email is heatherleson at gmail dot com. Please feel free to do an introduction.

(Photo: Katara in Doha (November 2014)CCBY)


Fractual Matter

Matter. One of my core life goals is to help people get involved in their world with technology. Along journey, I am often struck by the participant’s desire to make a difference and to matter. Many of us research and write about how to get to the next million contributors in a healthy and quality way. But are we building communities and spaces that make this possible to matter without fracturing?

It has been 5 years since the earthquake struck Haiti. Last night I attended the Canadian Red Cross photo exhibition of Johan Hallberg-Campbell’s Photos called Haiti Five Years On: An Fom! One of the speakers asked us to reflect on why we do this work and consider each person we help. Rarely do I focus on why or how I got involved, because the mission is bigger than one individual, one organization. But, since asked here is my answer: My sister is a medical professional who once volunteered in Haiti before the earthquake. On January 12, 2010, we spoke on the phone both in tears. What struck me from this conversation was that she has these ‘immediate skills’ which could help someone recover. My brother-in-law, as an engineer, also has strong ‘immediately applicable skills’ with his expertise in water and sanitation. My sense of helplessness was fleeting as I found others like myself who also felt like our technical and digital skills could maybe help a humanitarian and an affected population. Asking what can I do is the first step on a beautiful, complex journey. While the contributions we apply may not make an ‘immediate’ difference, it could be a applied like a layer cake of information insights. Maybe someday our diligence, our time and skills would ‘get to matter’. This tenacity drives many of us. We trial, we error, we get back up and we keep seeking ways to apply technology.

This type of change does not happen over night. Years and hours of brainpower continue strive to solve this problem set: How can we help people get involved and use technology/digital skills to make a difference? At Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), I am working with researchers and computer scientists on human and machine computing solutions. In my spare time, I’m on the Board of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and am one of the organizers of the International Conference of CrisisMapping. Truly, I am fortunate to spend my career and personal time focused on “matter”.

Why are you a Digital Volunteer or Humanitarian (quick survey)?

romanesco broccoli

Fractured and Fractal Matter

Fractals fascinate me. The nuances of shapes surprise the viewer. I often think that communities really are like fractals, all the varieties with complexity and beauty. As Digital volunteers (Humanitarians, FOSS or HFOSS), we aim to put the people and the mission ahead of our story and our needs. But, this where our sense of “matter” becomes very fractured. This year I hope to do more research and writing around digital volunteers and humanitarians in addition to the Community Builder’s Toolkit. How can we grow communities globally and help people get involved? Well, we need to be mindful and address the problem of fractured matter. It really comes down to: How we see ourselves in a community and in our own lives. And, how a community is a place where we can thrive no matter the level of our contribution. In a recent article “Decelerate to Accelerate“, Michel Bachmann and Roshan Paul wrote:

It’s ironic that the people who seek to create a more sustainable world often live the most unsustainable lives of all, sacrificing their finances, their relationships, and sometimes even their health to pursue a broader social mission.

So I am starting the year with some questions:

  • How can we better support our digital communities to not fracture their “matter”?
  • What can we do to build large, healthy sustainable programmes and communities?

Recently, I am focused on allocating my time and energy to “matter” on many levels. It has greatly improved my quality of life and mind. This is not an overnight sensation for me personally. In the various communities I belong, I constantly see how fractured matter can actually do more harm to the individual and the community. While we are changing the world and ourselves, it is super important to teach ourselves breathing lessons. I think that the change we are trying to build will take substantial time with some great bright spots and some lows. We should be ready for a long journey and traverse in a more healthy way. Honestly, I think that the communities and goals we are trying to achieve will be all the richer.

Matter to yourself. Matter to your communities. This is how we get to more people involved and how we get to “matter“.

(Photo of Romanesco broccoli, Union Square Market, November 2014)


Get Involved: MicroMappers Coconut Expedition

What are you doing this weekend? What if you could spend 5 minutes, 30 minutes or an 1 hour on a Digital Humanitarian Project? As noted before, it is one of my life goals is to build spaces and community activities to inspire people to get involved in their world. As my colleague, Patrick Meier, wrote – How can we get to the next million people. It is up to organizations and communities to make it easy for you to fit these small Tasks into your busy lives. This is why I am excited to collaborate on the MicroMappers Coconut Expedition. Our collective contribution will be used to assess food security in post-disaster zones. Time well spent.

On December 5 – 7, 2014 MicroMappers from around the world will participate on the Coconut Expedition. Join us.

MM coconut screen

About the Coconut Expedition

The SkyEye Project (based in the Philippines) used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) technology to take 1000s of digital photos. The Qatar Computing Research Institute processed these images, then inserted them into our MicroMapper tool: AerialClicker. MicroMapper tools enable digital humanitarians to interact with text or images. MicroMappers (that’s you!) make decisions about the content. In this case, you will draw or trace lines indicating healthy and damaged trees. Each image will be reviewed by at least 5 different MicroMappers. All the data will be tabulated and given to researchers at Simon Fraser University Computing. This team will create an algorithm to assess damaged coconut trees. In the future, this type of machine computing could be used to assess damage in post-disaster zones. We will also share results with you over on the MicroMappers blog.

Coconuts are the “tree of life” and a key part of the Philippines’ economy. Discover all the ways that these trees are used:

coconut uses infographic

How am I involved?

I am delighted to officially join the Qatar Computing Research Institute, Social Innovation Team to support projects like MicroMappers. You can join this MicroMappers project simply be joining our mailing list and waiting for instructions on December 5, 2014.

See you there!

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