Tag: #DMC6


Communicating at Disaster Management Camp

The 6th Annual Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp (QRC DMC) successfully united over 300 participants for 10 days of intense practical training. My compliments to the Qatar Red Crescent staff, International Federation of Red Crescent and Red Cross, other trainers/guest speakers and participants for a very professional and often all too realistic training camp. On behalf of Dr. Sofiane Abbar, Dr. Sarah Vieweg and our team, thank you for including Qatar Computing Research Institute in your event.

Said Tijani at the QRCDMC April 3, 2015 scenario

Participants at the DMC included Qatar Red Crescent Staff, staff of other Red Crescent societies, the Qatar EMS, Qatar Civic Defense, other official entities and volunteers. A portion of the participants were divided into training teams designated by colour code. These groups received training across various humanitarian and emergency scenarios including water and sanitation, shelter, food and nutrition, search and rescue, medical response and communications.Participants were responsible for the activity from their training track for the remainder of the day. The Social Media and New Technology class taught by my co-host, Ali El-Sebai El-Gamal (Qatar Red Crescent), and I held a one hour training for 6 days with 6 different teams. Before and after class, I created online communications, attended scenarios, joined classes and other camp activities. Every day people talked with me about the potential of Digital Humanitarian skills, Qatar Computing Research Institute’s work and best practices of social media during emergencies. So, if students attended the Media and Communications track, they were then responsible for all camp communications for the day (as with all the other tracks.) The Media and Communications track included media handling, communications methods, GPS, Satellite phones, radios and social media. We observed social media and communications training translate practical communications activities during the scenarios. The methodology of learn by doing provided students with a richer experience. The communications teams used their social savvy to practice online verification and human computing (harnessing ‘your network’), they live-tweeted events, crushed rumours and held press conferences with Twitter. They used WhatsApp to relay critical information during scenarios between two emergency sites, thus having the medical center receive updates via radio, phone and a WhatsApp messaging group. Pictures were also sent via WhatsApp by the response team to medical team to help them prepare.

See our updated Storify (aggregation of social media)
of the Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp. While the photos include smiling faces, note that we often delayed or obscured social content during some difficult scenarios. After all, the purpose of the camp is not only about communications and storytelling. Some of the participants have previously participated in humanitarian response. Some of the new trainees will be trained more and deployed. On the last day of the QRC DMC, I watched faces of participants and staff knowing full well that they may experience the best and worst of humanity. The teaching moments abound as I consider how to apply this experience to our work at Qatar Computing Research Institute. I have some ideas based on the feedback from staff and participants. Stay tuned on the implementation after I do some reflection and consultation.

Often the scenarios and conversations resulted in participants and staff highlighting ethical issues around these communications tactics. It was fantastic to hear people question issues around social media from privacy, security, access, trusted sources and the best practices. As humanitarians, they will face a wide range of issues so training instincts and debating tools/tactics is so important. The reality is that within a camp such as this it is possible to see just how pervasive new media may be during some emergencies. It is true though that this adds a complexity to their already difficult work. But the point of highlighting these tools and techniques is really training for “IF” social media and messaging becomes a factor in their real field work.

DATA: Disaster Management Camp Participant Use of Social Media and New Technology

Every day I collected a straw poll (informal survey) in my class. I asked people about their use of social media and new technology. Sometimes there were people missing from the groups due to meetings, so the numbers are not exact. However, this gives you a window into the DMC’s community technology use. Thanks to Infogram for the tools to tell this data story. How to use: click on the radio buttons to see the data by group and by type of social media/technology tool.

(Photo 1: Said Tijani, Qatar Red Crescent, at the QRCDMC April 3, 2015 scenario, credit: Heather Leson CCBY; Photo 2: Suma (QRC) at the QRCDMC April 7, 2015 scenario).


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)


Dispatch: Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp

On behalf of Qatar Computing Research Institute, I have the honour to be a guest trainer at the 6th Annual Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp. This 10-day event (March 31 – April 9, 2015) includes training, scenarios and humanitarian keynotes. Participants are from all over the MENA region including students, staff of the QRCS, partner Red Crescent members, UNHCR, IFRC, ICRC, civil defense (various) and special guests.

Ali and Heather training close up (April 2, 2015) copy

Over 6 days, I will train small groups on social media, new technology, digital humanitarians and how QCRI is working to make a difference. These slides contain my talking points and extensive notes. As the camp is in Arabic, Ali Moustafa El-Sebai El Gamal of QRCS provided translation. Together we are providing an interactive session. Yesterday due to the sandstorm, there was a power outage. This is a perfect example of always be prepared. I delivered the training without slides. Truly it is always fun to train folks, but it is especially powerful to collaborate with humanitarians. This is my first full Disaster Management Camp. I’ve participated in many digital simulations but this is a great way to learn and share.

Learning by doing

The second reason that I am at Disaster Management Camp is to analyze how participants and staff use software and social media. At QCRI, we are very interested in taking the lessons we learn internationally and supporting Qatar. The Qatar Red Crescent team has been very welcoming. Over the coming months, I will be sharing my embedded research outputs.

Meta Level action

I’m a digital storyteller. Every event, I curate photos, quick vignettes and try to capture the mission and spirit. Together with my colleagues we are using Storify:

Thanks again to Qatar Red Crescent Society for the kind support of Qatar Computing Research Institute.

(photo credit: Amara-photos.com)

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