Models for Preparedness – CrisisCamp Toronto

Cross-posted from CrisisCommons.org

Crisiscamp Toronto is preparing. We’ve learned from the global CrisisCommons responses that we need to build relationships and capacity locally, provincially and nationally. Our core team is David Black (Emergency Management lead), Melanie Gorka (International Development and Projects lead), Brian Chick (Social Media Trainer and New Media lead) and myself (City Lead and Community hacker). Together, we’ve been running monthly events for the past year. Our unique mix of skills, networks and dedication to building is helping us grow our community. We are a sandbox for Preparedness CrisisCamps and for building community within your city.

On Saturday, February 19, 2011, our second preparedness CrisisCamp was attended by 30 people. Some people were new faces while others attended previous CrisisCamp or Random Hacks of Kindness events. Our goals were to build a common sharing space and to build local CrisisCamp capacity emergency managers, software developers, journalists, new media, government and technical groups. We designed a program to recognize that people have different interests and gaps. The model also included cross-training, brainstorming, planning projects and community building.

Event Highlights:

  • In the morning, we held three simultaneous sessions: Social Media 101 (Brian Chick), Emergency Management 101 (Patrice Cloutier, Jason Redlarski, and David Black) and GIS/Mapping 101 (Richard Weait and Kristina MacKinnon).
  • We welcomed participants from the Ontario government and Toronto Police. This is the first time we have ever had Canadian officials attend a full CrisisCamp event. Canadian officials are slowly becoming interested in this space as we continue to outreach with the help from some early leaders. Evolving national and local communities is one of our core goals this year. We were delighted to have them join us.
  • Richard Weait of OpenStreetMap provided us an Introduction OSM and some individual training.
  • George Chamales, Konpa Group, offered to give a spontaneous one hour presentation via skype from Haiti. He provided a great overview and mentorship for our community. Some of his topics were: What is Ushahidi? What were some of the emergency/crisis response deployments of the past year? What are the best practices? Lessons learned? George also provided some feature requests for our developers to brain on and answered some technical questions. One of the requests was completed during the camp.
  • Sara Farmer, Crisismappers.net and UN Global Pulse, provided cross-training for mapping and gave participants a global perspective on the movements.
  • We held the first ever tweet-up and live tweet chat about social media in Canadian emergencies. This was lead by the fantastic, and bilingual, Patrice Cloutier. Patrice is a leader in this space in Canada and offered to help moderate the conversation. As well, David Black and Jason Redlarski provided context for emergency management in Canada. Patrice is a member of the SMEM weekly chats.
  • We had a group brainstorm on Canadian emergency management needs and project ideas for preparedness and response. This will help us plan our activities for future events.
  • Melanie Gorka facilitated a number of brainstorming topics about CrisisCommons in Canada and digital volunteerism. She also coordinated our content curation team.
  • Glenn McKnight set-up a display for IEEE’s Humanitarian Initiatives and provided demonstrations for the Solar Suitcase. Glenn is a big proponent of Open Hardware and helped us geek out beyond software solutions and think about our friends in the Maker community.
  • We used Scribblelive to liveblog our content for the event. This really worked well. We recommend it for other CrisisCamp events.
  • The majority of our events have been held at University of Toronto. This partnership has been amazing. Not only can we use multiple rooms for break-out sessions, we have a strong university student contingent that is helping us grow.

Every city and every country has different needs, yet some similar themes. We would be happy to answer any questions. But, most of all: STEAL or HACK this MODEL. It really worked. We are very thankful for our presenters, guests from Volunteer Technical Communities, government officials and the amazing participants who asked great questions and are the reason that CrisisCamp Toronto continues to grow.

Stay Tuned!

CrisisCamp Toronto City Lead
Heather Leson

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