Volunteering is a gift. For the past year, I have been part of the CrisisCommons – Global Core Team as the co-lead of the Community Working Group. We grew the community from US, Canada, UK and New Zealand to other events and volunteers in Australia, France, Thailand, Belgium and others. I volunteered on efforts for Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, New Zealand and Japan. I contributed to the writing of the content for the CrisisCommons Sloan Foundation Grant, especially the city and project profiles.
A number of reports about Volunteer Technical Communities have been released in the past weeks. They really speak volumes about how each individual volunteer and group changed the world. I am proud to be part of all these movements. We are friends and partners in leadership and volunteerism.
Today, I made the following announcement on the CrisisCommons global and CrisisCamp Toronto mailing lists:
Morning everyone, Hope your weekend was grand.
For the past year, I’ve been your CrisisCommons Global – Community Working Group co-lead. And, what an adventure it has been. I will be stepping down from this volunteer role effective April 4, 2011. With this change, I will transition my responsibilies to Chad Cataccchio, who is a co-lead of this group. He sent a call to action for the Community Working Group yesterday.
One of the big lessons learned about CrisisCamps is preparedness. I believe in this community and will continue to volunteer as the CrisisCommons/CrisisCamp Canada lead and CrisisCamp Toronto lead.
I am honoured and proud to have volunteered in this role. I will continue to play a part within the global community when and where I can.
I will continue to volunteer on a number of projects including:
Grow CrisisCamp Toronto and in Canada as well as support CrisisCommons global when I can.
Fostering Mozilla Drumbeat projects. There is a real opportunity to connect Volunteer Technical Communities to projects within Drumbeat. For example, P2PU.org, Webmademovies and Universalsubtitles.com offer resources which could assist these global communities. But, mainly I am fan focused on the existing projects supporting an Open Web.
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:
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.
The CrisisCamp Toronto team has been working hard to prepare for CrisisCamp Social Media in Canadian Emergencies. This morning I was delighted to receive some great response from the IAEM – Canada mailing list. Our goal is to connect the spirit of Canadian startup innovation, internet savvy and emergency managers.
When: Saturday, February 19, 2011 10am – 5pm Where: University of Toronto, OISE 4th fl
Here is a list of Communication channels to participate during CrisisCamp Toronto.
LiveChat- Social Media in Canadian Emergencies on Saturday, February 19, 2010,
14:00ET, 11:00PT for one hour
We’re hosting a tweetchat (live chat on twitter.com). If you search twitter.com for #CSMEM you can follow all the comments. If you have a twitter account, please use the hashtag #CSMEM and add your province code. (Eg. SK, NFLD). This session will be held in both English and French. We will have translators to help. It is our hope to host these regularly. Our American friends use the #SMEM hashtag.
I saw a demo of Scribblelive at Hacks/Hackers this week. I think it is a great fit for CrisisCamp Toronto’s event. It is all set up and ready to start posting content tomorrow morning. I also downloaded the free Iphone app. If it works for this event, I’ll be recommending it for more events in the future both in Canada and globally.
We will try to stream and record the morning sessions. This will help other folks learn. Again, it will be active around 10:00 ET on Saturday.
We will run these three sessions, three times. You can pick which one you want to attend.
1. Emergency Management 101/Emergency Management in Canada
2. GIS/Mapping 101
3. Social Media 101/CrisisMapping 101
Dev and Tool Testing Stream
*Crowdmap/Ushahidi 101- test case and cross-training
*Ushahidi small code features – TBD
*Prep for #CSMEM Twitchat
*Canadian Virtual Volunteer Team planning: help us brainstorm credentials and organization for this idea.
Afternoon: 1:30 – 4:30pm
2:00-3:00ET – Live chat on Crisis Commons and Social Media in Emergency Management (skype – Heather Leson – Twitter #csmem)
1:30 – 2:00 Brainstorming ideas with Melanie on CrisisCommons Canada activities
3:00 – 5:00 ET
1. Project Demos
CrisisCamp Toronto wants to pick a project to work on. Demo your project idea in 5 minutes, then we will vote
2. Project Planning
We will build out the project requirements and next steps
3.Ongoing work playing with tools will continue in the other rooms.
Mapping and strategies for Social Media in emergencies/crisis in Canada are new concepts. I am working with the CrisisCommons Canada team to bring crowdsourcing home. We have a few events and beta tests on the go. This is the beginning. I believe in the power of Internet communities and an open web making a difference in our country and the world.
CrisisCamp Toronto set up a map to help Toronto folks report about this week’s snowstorm. We decided on Monday night. Melanie Gorka, Brian Chick, David Black and I built out the map, process and created a press release. Using the format of the Crisismappers.net Standby Task Force, we took the best practices and fit them to our team. We reached out the the CrisisCamp Toronto communities and our own networks. In 5 days, we had 42 posts, 620 unique visitors and about 30 re-tweets. Our goals were to test our process and create a Canadian proof-of-concept. We will prepare an After-Action-Report with the full results. The response we received from Ontario, Toronto and Canadian government officials and the media was fantastic. We are working on preparedness strategies with our partners. Stay tuned for more initiatives. Here is our Snowmap:
CrisisCamp Toronto is hosting a Social Media / Emergency Management event on Feb. 19th
We invite Emergency Managers and New Media Technologists to join us and share their skills. This SM/EM (Social Media/Emergency Management) event is to help our community be more prepared and to build partnerships between Canadian emergency management, NGO, project managers, software developers, technical experts and social media folks. This includes GIS/OSM training. There is a second stream of activity to make and test tools.
As well, we are taking project submissions. Each person will present their idea. Then, the group will vote on the project and begin to brainstorm on the next steps. We want to build solutions for Canadian crisis and emergencies.
On a personal note, I am super excited that Sara Farmer of UN Global Pulse and the CrisisMappers team will be joining us. She formerly ran CrisisCamp in London. The CrisisCommons community is a global family. We aim to exchange ideas. It is a great chance to learn from someone who has been working on some amazing projects.
Random Hacks of Kindness – Survey and Canadian plans
All participants of Canada’s first Random Hacks of Kindness event received a survey this week. The RHoK team is gearing up for 2011. Watch this space for announcements. RHoK Global encourages partnerships with universities for upcoming events. We found great success partnering with University of Toronto. And, we can’t wait to share with other cities.
On Monday, I had the distinct honour to participate in a seminar at York University: The Haiti Earthquake of Jan 2010: Lessons Learned.“. Brian Chick and I were on a panel with Kenneth Kidd of the Toronto Star: Role of the Local, National and International Media; Communication Challenges; Reality, Myths, and Perception Issues.
(Photo by Morgen Peers)
The responder was Jean Claude Louis of Janos Canada/Caribbean. He talked about the plight of Haitian Journalists and their communities. Janos has a number of future projects focused on Haitian stories. Jean mentioned a site focused on children’s stories: “Voice of the Children“(in Kreyol). I mentioned that Carel Pedre, a Haitian radio announcer collaborated on a CrisisCamp project:The New Haiti Project.
The audience was happy to hear that CrisisCommons will be released a CrisisCamp After Action Report about our activities: a project that I contributed consultant work to CrisisCommons. One other question asked us whether we had contacts in Haiti during our effort. I responded that our value is in supporting the existing Crisis Response Organizations. The report will be released in the coming weeks.
Communication and Volunteers
Presented by Heather Leson and Brian Chick
January 10, 2011
Each of the presenters provided their lessons learned and perspectives. Humanitarian aid in Haiti was a difficult and, at times, daunting, endeavor. All of the presentations will be posted on the York University site in the coming days.
This is a time of reflection for anyone whose life was touched by the emergency response efforts in Haiti. Last night I watched TVO’s program: “Inside Disaster“. The volunteers and Haitians provided an overwhelming picture of life just days after the earthquake. I remain in awe of the efforts of humanitarian workers and hope that some day new media and communications volunteers can truly make a difference and assist.
Once you volunteer your knowledge, time and energy for humanitarian aid and response, your life will change. As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake, there will be reflections, reports, seminars, meet-ups and, most of all, conversations. I am committed to volunteering and working in the field of technology for social good and technology for crisis response.
Here are some of the events that I will be participating: York University Seminar: “The HAITI Earthquake of Jan 2010: LESSONS LEARNED” (Monday, January 10, 2011)
York University’s Disaster and Emergency Management Program, School of Administrative Studies in Collaboration with Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) are hosting this event. Brian Chick and I will present on the panel discussion: “Role of the Local, National and International Media; Communication Challenges; Reality, Myths, and Perception Issues“.
Some of the topics I will cover include:
the new volunteer
volunteer technical communities
CrisisCamp and CrisisCommons movement
lessons learned on a global level
Brian will cover the social media tool-set and lessons learned on a local level.
CrisisCamp Toronto event – Thursday, January 13 2010.
On January 13, 2010, I joined the first CrisisCommons global conference call and began organizing CrisisCamp Toronto: Canada’s first CrisisCommons community. CrisisCamp Toronto started with Twitter and Facebook outreach. By January 19th, we had a core team of Toronto volunteers and the first event scheduled for January 23, 2010. We held 5 events in response to the Haiti and Chile earthquakes.
As a young organization, we know there is room to grow. Our team will plan our training and projects for the upcoming year. Building on our learning, we will continue to foster our community in Toronto and Canada. We are the new breed of volunteers learning as fast as we can to meet emergency responders and humanitarian groups with our technology and social media knowledge.
CrisisCommons Community Call
On the one year anniversary of the first 5 CrisisCamps, our community will hold a global conference call on Sunday, January 16, 2011. More details soon.
Our goal was to also demonstrate how local Red Cross organizations and emergency managers could use our lessons learned and leverage social media in their respective areas. I personally enjoyed the question about how would CrisisCamp respond to an potential earthquake in Sudbury. We would contact the Canadian Red Cross and ask how we could be of service. This is the type of collaboration and partnership that volunteer technical communities and crisis response organizations can have. We just need to continue to build relationships in preparedness.
We were also asked how to get started on Twitter. I recommended that people follow the lead of the Canadian Red Cross. Earlier this year, there was a very minor earthquake in Ontario. Immediately after this, John Saunders (Provincial Director Canadian Red Cross), started using Twitter for communications on preparedness safety tips as well as updates on power or other services. He is a trusted expert on Emergency Management and his tweet content would be verified. I his posts to keep my previous workplace informed.
Special thanks to John Saunders, Jen Mayville and Karen Snider for inviting us and supporting our efforts. We truly look forward to more collaboration between the Canadian Red Cross and the CrisisCamp Toronto team.