Help Crowdsource SMS Reports for the Pakistan Floods

Cross-posted from the Crisiscommons.org blog.

SMS (Text messages) Reports + Your Brain + a search engine + google translate + basic map (long and lat coordinates)

Mobile phones are used in Pakistan. There is a text message (SMS) short code created to help people in Pakistan send reports. The SMS reports link to a tool called Crowdflower. Volunteers review and submit tasks which get mapped on Ushahidi. There is a virtual team of folks reviewing the reports for any urgent matters and appropriately redirecting to the NGOs on the ground. The Pakreport Ushahidi map tells a map story of what is needed and what is happening in the affected flood regions of Pakistan.

So far 100 reports have been filed. The short code may be communicated more throughout Pakistan. They are expecting an increase of reports in the coming days. We need your help.

Ushahidi is an open source tool that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Their goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating crowdsourced information from the public for use in crisis response. Crowdflower is a tool that helps people do quick, crowdsource tasks.

5 Basic Crowdsourcing Steps:

STEP 1: Create your account
Sign up for a Crowdflower account with your email address: http://pakreport.crowdflower.com. (You may have to refresh your browser session to get started.) A Pakreport screen will appear: Help map SMS messages from the crisis in Pakistan.

Learning and Time Requirements
It takes about 30 minutes to learn the Pakreport.crowdflower.com basic steps and get into they flow for this type of crowdsourcing. Once you learn, you may be able to use this same process to help in other situations.

STEP 2: Prepare your workstation. Open the following browser windows or tabs:

1. Wikipedia.org
2. Pakreport.Crowdflower.com
3. Pakreport Ushahidi: To see the overall Pakreport progress
4. Google translate (You may not need this. Some reports are in English and you can skip reports if you don’t understand.)
5. Mapping tool: OpenStreetMap, Google Maps or other
6. Skype (optional)

STEP 3: Basic Instructions to file a Report:
This job involves the translation, categorization and geotagging of SMS messages from Urdu, Pashtu or English speakers. This is a volunteer job for humanitarian benefit. We thank you in advance for your efforts to support this project. There are also great instructions on the http://pakreport.org/ushahidi/ page. Click Support us.

Example of an SMS (text message) to be entered:
The SMS: [ Initial Damage Assessment: chahwan (UC Shah punjo). 65 houses of which 30 have been destroyed and 10 damaged. 100% of crops destroyed. Village is still flooded]

1. Read: Read the SMS message from Pakistan. Each task is unique, so crowdsourcers can file reports at the same time.
2. Language: If you don’t understand the language the SMS is written in, click “I can’t understand this language, get me a new message”
3. Make Sense?: If the SMS is illegible, junk, or does not contain words, check the box to “Mark as not enough information”
4. Categorize: Answer the category questions that follow: emergency, food, water and sanitation, health, security, migration, shelter, logistics and extent of flooding, protection, information, services available.
NOTE: Select the appropriate/applicable category for the message from the list shown. You may select more than one category.
5. Add notes.
6. Map: If the SMS contains geographic information, click on the map to place a red marker in the location nearest to the geographic location from the SMS. You can also try searching Wikipedia or any other search (e.g. Google or Bing) to determine if it is a name of a city or name of the person reporting. If you are unsure of the coordinates, skip to the next step. UC is the Union Council. It is the smallest administrative unit and is usually for 2 – 3 villages. (e.g. Village = xxx (UC = yyyy)). The village may be hard to find. Start with the UC first, then narrow down for the village or simply add to the notes section.

7. Click Submit Task

Please use the “Notes” box to include any other relevant or important information about the SMS message content. Thank you!

Other instructions on the CrisisCommons wiki

STEP 5: Need Help:
Skype contact id: anahiii
We have an active group chat room (PakReport-Crowdflower Volunteers) for all the volunteers. There are some super-users available to answer questions.

Google Group
PakReport – Volunteers Googlegroup:
You can find documents explaining the project or more details about the categories.

If you have further questions, just ask in the comments or tweet out @crisiscamp or @crisismappers #pkfloods with your question. Our communities would be glad to help you volunteer.

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