Crisiscamp Toronto shared our story at Podcamp Toronto 2011 on February 26, 2011. Our session: “Crowdsourcing Tech for Social Good and CrisisResponse” had approximately 25 attendees. The talk was recorded and will be posted at a later date. We had some great questions about how to engage volunteers and what are results of RHoK and CrisisCamp. Here is a quick event summary and our slideshare:
Some results of the past 6 months
Toronto digital volunteers participated in CrisisCamp Pakistan and CrisisCamp New Zealand. Some of the contributions were: mapping and situational awareness. CrisisCamps can be for response or preparedness. People work on tasks identified or brainstorm on ways they can contribute. We also participated in two Random Hacks of Kindness event: Sydney, Australia in June 2010 and Toronto, Canada in December 2010. These events are two-day hackathons focused on humanitarian and local solutions. For the RHoK Toronto event, we partnered with Open Data Toronto.
Some of the lessons learned are: the processes need to be set well in advance of an emergency and partnerships built between Crisis Responders and digital volunteers. And, if we identify problem definitions, we can brainstorm and create prototypes which might aim to solve real world issues. Volunteer technology communities collaborate during response. Each brings their special skills. Digital volunteers are modelling in an agile, iterative manner using their skills of research, digital media creation, social media outreach and mapping contribute to a basic framework. Their contribution and feedback is built on by each response effort and each hackathon. We are attempting to identify the best way to train and engage people to volunteer in the most rewarding and effective manner. It is hard work, but each time we improve.
Toronto has about 30 people who volunteer locally and globally. These people are developers, emergency managers, project managers, digital media strategists, technologists, students, experienced employees, open data/open gov users and journalists. We are at the training and project analysis stage. All of these lessons learned will enable us to build programs and relationships locally for preparedness. As well, we aim to collaborate with emergency responders to manage the surge of information online during an emergency and create software/innovation solutions.