Tag: #digihums


How to: A Digital Humanitarian Handbook

The Digital Humanitarian community is growing. In the Digital Humanitarian Network, there are many communities and organizations. Each of them have a specific set of skills to offer. While there are some guides for each of the groups, there is no free, online and translated course or introduction guide to help people get involved.

The purpose of this community driven project is to create a community sourced guide on github to help people learn from each other. This online handbook builds on the work of 1000s of community members who use their technical skills for good. Earlier this year, my colleague, Patrick Meier published his book about Digital Humanitarians. How can we widen the circle of participation and reach new areas to support resilience. For example, during the Nepal Earthquake response, the Japanese community created a translated version of the Nepal building guide for how to map in OpenStreetMap with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The Qatar Computing Research Institute and Standby Task Force response to the Nepal Earthquake had over 2800 participants from around the world. Our IP address report highlighted a participation gap in some regions of the world. At the recent World Humanitarian Youth Summit, I presented on why I think these digital skills are essential for the youth communities. Participants expressed an interest in learning and evolving this for their regions of the world.

During my time with the Qatar Red Crescent team at their annual Disaster Management Camp, we determined that core materials need to be translated into Arabic. I’ll be hosting local Digital Humanitarian training in Doha starting on October 1st. But what about the rest of the global community of civic tech and technical savvy communities. We hope that this will support our collective mission to encourage resilience and preparedness. And, while we are focused on crisis and emergencies, we think these core skills are very transferable to all the Sustainable Development Goals.

How to get involved

Or contact @heatherleson or @willowbl00 for help.

Draft Table of Contents

In the upcoming Digital Responders call in, we will review this draft table of contents. This will then be added to github to begin the curation process. Stay tuned for more details soon.

  • SECTION: Digital Humanitarianism Introduction
  • History of Crisismapping and Digital Humanitarians
  • Lessons and best practices
  • Code of conducts
  • Ecosystem: Working with Humanitarians and Contributors
  • Tools and Techniques overview
  • Examples by various topics – environmental, crisismapping
  • SECTION: SMS, social media and messaging (Whatsapp)
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Storify, Storiful,Blogging
  • Social media storytelling
  • SECTION: Community work
  • big tasks, small tasks
  • Microtasking 101
  • Software development in HFOSS
  • managing community lists
  • managing language and culture
  • SECTION: Data collection and analysis
  • Data Collection 101
  • sensors, social media, sms
  • Data Analysis
  • basic tools and techniques
  • SECTION: Verification
  • Overview and the Verification handbook
  • Verily and other tools
  • Visualization
  • charts, graphs
  • SECTION: maps
  • basic network maps
  • Geo for Good
  • Mapping 101
  • Mapping Google
  • Mapping OSM
  • Mapbox and Cartodb intro
  • Mapping ESRI
  • SECTION: Simulation 1: Teamwork and Roles (Global scenario)
  • How does coordination work during emergencies?
  • Coordination and community guidance
  • after action review
  • Simulation 2: Technique and mentoring (GCC scenario)
  • Technique testing
  • after action review
  • What to do with data after a project is done
  • How having a pre-existing community matters (KLL and Public Labs as examples)
  • Adversaries in digital space? InfoSec but also GamerGate
  • Digital colonialism
  • Sample curriculums
  • Sample simulation templates and checklists

I envision that the manual will have chapters by country and region. The Taiwanese OpenStreetMap community, for example, might have specific examples and scenario templates for their region of the world. Plus, it is our hope that the manual will help people find best practices across the very topics and civic tech communities. We need to learn from each other. This Digital Humanitarian Handbook is for all of us to evolve and fork.


The Next Stage of Digital Humanitarians

The World Humanitarian Youth Summit is in Doha, Qatar this week (September 1 – 2, 2015). Students and young people under the age of 30 joined from over 80 countries around the world. They are here to consult on a number of key issues creating an outcome document with key recommendations. Last night the drafting team was up until 5am AST working to compile all the brilliant ideas. This work will be submitted as part of the larger global consultations to Reshape Aid.

It was my honour to join the Transformation through Innovation panel to share some thoughts on how people could get involved as Digital Humanitarians and how they could learn and lead with these skills. During my talk, I share some thoughts on how we could challenge the future to get young people more involved all around the world. See my slides and detailed notes for more information.


Thank you to Reach out to Asia, the World Humanitarian Youth Summit, and the Children and Youth Major group for welcoming me in their conversations. Also thank you to Chad Bevins, Mark Iliffe, Kathmandu Living Labs, Yantisa Akhadi, and Stace Maples for their photos about Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and OpenStreetMap activities around the world.


Digital Humanitarians in Qatar

It is World Humanitarian Day today! Humanitarians make a huge difference in the lives of many people around the world. On this day that we honour these amazing people, we are starting a local Digital Humanitarian Community to support their efforts.

Doha skyline

Digital Humanitarians are a growing global network of people aiming to use their technology and social media skills to support humanitarians and affected communities. There are many communities within the Digital Humanitarian Network. Our goal is to encourage more participation from Qatar and the GCC. We will host local community events, training and support. Qatar has a high youth and very technical capable population. It is our hope that more people from Qatar will join and lead within the various communities.

We’ve created a mailing list to help you connect. (digitalhumanitarians-qatar@googlegroups.com ) Join us and stay tuned for more details. Please introduce yourself – your interests and why you are keen to learn.

This community is for you. We will provide spaces for technical and non-technical participation. Getting involved in your world is your journey. Digital Skills learned from Digital Humanitarian activities are directly applicable to your learning and your potential career. Plus, you will meet others from around the world who seek to make a digital difference.

There are a number of active Digital Humanitarians at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) (based in Doha Qatar). We created Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Response (AIDR) and MicroMappers to help people get involved in the world. Training and events will include data, maps, verification and software techniques. We will invite our local and global friends to help support your learning journey.

Upcoming Events

World Humanitarian Youth Summit

Our first big activity will be joining the World Humanitarian Summit – Global Youth Consultation to be held in Doha on September 1 – 2, 2015. The Reach out to Asia team has been working hard to bring over 450 young people from around the world. There will also be many participants from Qatar. Our team will host a booth at HBKU to share details about our work at QCRI and share how you can be a Digital Humanitarian. Please stop by and visit to learn more!


Checking into the next stage of Digital Humanitarians

What does NEXT look like? Often as digital humanitarians, we are in the weeds of tasks. Many of us are still writing about the Nepal Earthquake Response and pondering how to improve and learn. With Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, I have my hands full with the Executive Director hiring process. And, at Qatar Computing Research Institute, we are testing a MicroMappers microtasking translation clicker with our friends over at Translators without Borders.

Last week Aspiration’s Willow Brugh held a casual Digital Humanitarian Checkin. In the conversation, each of the participants provided an update about themselves, their research, their technology and/or their digital humanitarian community. This checkin was special on a few fronts. First, many of us connect during times of crisis when we are super busy leading activations and onboarding new volunteers.


See the notes from our chats.
Some of the big themes were:

  1. Cross-community collaboration processes and tools
  2. Contributor Training and On-boarding
  3. Potential global meet-up for Digital Humanitarians

We need more regular activities to connect outside of emergencies. Thanks Willow for being the connector.

MicroMappers Global Map - Nepal Earthquake May 5, 2015
(Source: MicroMappers Global Nepal Earthquake response, June 2015. Created by Ji Lucas with Cartodb)

Digital Humanitarians in Qatar

I see blank spots on the map as a need to shift training and engagement. This is already happening, but for the next months, I am going to try to build a program in Doha. There are so many talented digital folks in Doha. I’d like to see them join the Digital communities. Certainly in speaking with some of them, I found a strong interest to learn.

World Humanitarian Youth Summit

If someone has the base digital skills, then they will remix it for local language, culture and needs. Plus, everything you learn is directly applicable to success in your career. Employees want digital savvy staff.

There is a buzz of activity in Qatar leading up the the World Humanitarian Youth Summit to be held in Doha on September 1 – 2, 2015. I’m hatching plans for digital activities to encourage more participation from Qatar residents and hopefully the GCC/MENA regions. Stay tuned.


MicroMappers Nepal Response

[Cross-posted from MicroMappers.org, a project that I work on at QCRI]

A MicroMappers silver thread of goodness stitches this great world together. For the Nepal Earthquake response, Digital Humanitarians united from Doha to Bangalore to Phnom Penh to Auckland to Manila to Hong Kong to Vancouver to Buenos Aires to Mexico City to Boston to Stockholm to Bucharest to Nairobi to Capetown. Humanitarians and citizens of Nepal continue their efforts to deliver aid and support the country in the wake of the Nepal Earthquake. Our hearts go out to their important work and long road to recovery.

Over 2800 contributors reviewed tweets and images in the thousands to support humanitarians with information insights (See the full data below). All your ‘clicks’ and ‘decisions’ resulted in a highly curated dataset that was shared and incorporated into damage assessment decision-making by responders.

On behalf of the whole Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) team and our partners the Standby Task Force, UN OCHA and GeoThings, we thank you for every moment you spent reviewing content, every time you shared this project with your networks and every time that you thought: “I can make a small difference in this world.” You took time away from your busy lives and families to help our neighbours who happen to be Humanitarians.

QCRI Senior Software Developer, Ji Kim Lucas, created this map to show the global MicroMappers Nepal Earthquake Response effort. We humbled by the power of community. Thank you!

MicroMappers Global Map

Media Coverage of MicroMappers

The MicroMappers project storytelling has been lead by my colleague, Patrick Meier. He is a true leader in the Crisismapping and Digital Humanitarian space. If you have not read his book about the growth of Digital Humanitarians, I highly recommend that you do so. It is all our story of how we aim to use technology for good. It is a true pleasure to work at QCRI with Patrick, Ji and the whole Social Innovation/Social Computing team. We are humbled by the 2800 contributors and how the media has embraced this story during such a difficult time for the Nepali people.


Board Announcements: PeaceGeeks and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

The journey to grow digital technology communities has taken a number of forms in my career. I’ve had the great pleasure to work with some amazing leaders, partners and communities both in a professional and volunteer capacity. I am pleased to share that I have been re-elected to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Board of Directors (3rd year) with the role of President of the Board and elected to the PeaceGeeks Board of Directors (1st year). These map and technical communities are part of a larger Digital Humanitarian Network. For both boards, my priorities are strategy,fundraising and community building. I look forward to helping both organizations and communities grow their missions while supporting the beautiful engagement of helping people make a technical difference in this great world.

About Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

HOT logo

The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team [HOT] applies the principles of open source and open data sharing for humanitarian response and economic development.

This is my 3rd year as a member of the HOT Board. As a crisismapper and digital humanitarian, HOT is really a community home for me. I remain in awe of HOT’s potential. The community membership and board have honoured me with the role of President of HOT. As mentioned in my candidate statement, I see this as a critical year for HOT to grow local communities and build infrastructure to support organizational development. The community is so inspiring. This results in my contributing volunteer time beyond the suggested five – ten hours a month. In the coming months, I will speak at the State of the Map – US about “Your Neighbour is Mapping” with my colleague from Medicine Sans Frontieres. We aim to share some thoughts on implementation of local communities.

The HOT Board position is elected by the community membership.

To learn more about HOT, see our wiki page.

About PeaceGeeks

PeaceGeeks logo

PeaceGeeks empowers grassroots organizations by building technology partnerships to significantly improve or transform their efforts to promote peace and human rights in developing and conflict-affected areas. We see a world where every NGO can leverage technology to achieve lasting peace.

I’m most excited about PeaceGeek’s mission to work with small local NGOs on long-term sustainable projects. They aim to connect the global community to the local one stitching together offline and online techniques. There is so much potential to connect technical company corporate social responsibility programmes to PeaceGeeks’ wider network. Stay tuned as I learn more about PeaceGeeks and explore how I can connect them.

The Board of Director’s position is elected. I had a number of interviews by the team to be sure it was a good fit.


Seeking Arabic Resources for Digital Humanitarians

We are only global if we learn and share. Imagine yourself standing in a classroom. The students are earnest, you have some translation help, and the host humanitarian organization is very supportive. You are there sharing big new concepts inviting participation. At Qatar Red Crescent 6th Annual Disaster Management Camp there are people from all the Middle East/North Africa region, they have varied skills with a range of some to no field experience. Often I ask how can we get the next 1 Million people involved in their world using digital skills. How will their digital training curriculum function? How do we share the skills and ideas in ways that are easy to learn and remix? And, how can we do this in a way that is inclusive and respectful of local language, local knowledge and local cultures?

There is an opportunity to create a community of Digital Qataris or inspire more Digital Humanitarians in the MENA region, including within the humanitarian organizations. As the World Humanitarian Summit approaches, there are many regional consultation meetings and reports. In reading the World Humanitarian Summit MENA reports, I was struck with how much opportunity there is to encourage youth engagement and to consider technology. This can only happen if there are sponsoring humanitarian organizations, long term training strategies and shared resources. The Qatar Red Crescent is incredibly focused on how they can make a difference. This event includes people training from all over the MENA region. In between trainings and scenarios, we talk about the future and learn about each other’s common goals.

QRC DMC training April 5, 2015 (photo by Haneen Suliman)

In my conversations with participants and staff at the Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp (DMC), we determined a gap in the knowledge transfer to support Digital Humanitarian work in the MENA region. Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has a mission to use our tools and innovation techniques in Qatar. Experience at the DMC identified a deep willingness of both staff and participants to learn and incorporate these tools and techniques into their work and volunteer workflows. However, there are knowledge gaps and language barriers. Successful programs for QCRI and our Digital Humanitarian partners will be greatly aided if we can get some core documents into Arabic. This means a prioritization and translation effort.

Over the coming weeks, I will work with my Qatar Red Crescent colleague to make a list of the resources and tools that need to be in Arabic. Then, we will work on plan for how to support

Curate a list of Digital Humanitarian Resources to be translated

There are a few core documents that need translation into Arabic. I’ve identified these based on my conversations with the staff and participants at the Qatar Red Crescent. After the Disaster Management Camp, we will coordinate with the authors, organizations and communities. I’ll be working with my team at QCRI to get our tools and resources translated soon. (It seems to me that if we have a strong list, it would be great to have these translated into many languages.)

Some key resources:

Verification was a big topic of discussion in our sessions. It was great to see that Meedan has translated the Verification Handbook into Arabic.

This is where your help is needed. Which digital resources do you recommend for Humanitarian work? Simply add your items into this document in the 2nd section of the document below.

HELP WANTED: Curated list of Digital Humanitarian Resources to be translated into Arabic

Thanks so much for your help! More on this project as we keep learning.

(Photo by Hannen Suliman, April 5, 2015)

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