The International Disaster Response Network
I'm currently going through the course and all things going well I'll have completed some basic training tomorrow but already a few thoughts come to mind in terms of ideas that could feasibly be implemented and integrated into not only this website, but also into a webapp/phone app/etc.
Problem is, I can see at a high level the basic concepts but I lack the experience of those of you who've been in the field, in terms of needs; and also the skills to create such apps myself. So I thought I'd outline something here, let discussion grow, see what's important/not important and perhaps hand off those ideas to people in the community that think they can make the plan into reality.
I've had 3 ideas, and one may already be in the works so please bear with me if you've heard it all before.
The first is a tool for your own house assessment, sorry I left my book in the car so I don't have the exact name on me. Many things you have to go around and ask people about and say this neighbour knows 1st aid, or is a nurse, has a generator, etc. But other things are completely automatable, and could be a huge time saver. Especially for newbies who aren't skilled in research. For example let me share this link I found http://www.floodmap.net/
while still a beta, it can estimate in a really quick and easy way what parts of a city will be underwater and what routes will be safer to travel.
The Google api already has many important buildings like government, police, fire, hospital, etc flagged and that can be a top level layer. Flooding can be on another layer. Traffic reports and trending I believe is also available on Google maps. And so on.
So with the app aggregating all these complex searches into a very simple, plug-in-my-address, and go type template, people can assign rally points, and create plans a lot faster. Because I can go out to my area to find all the skills in the houses around me, but trying to figure out what roads will be washed out, might be a bit difficult for someone who rarely leaves their own neighbourhood.
2nd, is more for coordination efforts between organizations. Similar to an outlook calendar, if you punch in I want to use this office at this time for this reason. And then someone else says, well I want to do that too for this reason. They can see, that group A is already there doing that, and their area of operations will overlap. So maybe they'll move over 2 blocks so that relief efforts can be maximized in an effected region.
This might need to be hosted outside the IRDN page, but essentially you'd have groups like Dr's w/o borders, red cross, IDRN, etc have operators that can sign up and subscribe to a service where they can post their plans ahead of time, make modifications and see, oh hey there's dr's at town X, so maybe we can contact them and coordinate their medical efforts with our blanket distribution efforts.
The idea being you can share resources, coordinate multiple efforts with fewer staff, do 2 or more things at once, and not step on each other's toes when trying to assist an area that's in need. Also if you layer a map interface with the centre points, and Area of Operations circles, you can quickly glance and see (red circles for medical for example) that there's an area that is being ignored for 1st aid efforts and say, we can send our teams there.
With a history tracker, you can also say, this area has been serviced and doesn't need aid for the next x days.
The last idea was a phone based app, or perhaps a dedicated device.
This one I think was in development, to some extent. Though the parts I'd like to add are, rather than SMS and Internet based apps, use a backup that creates a database in the phone. Have that database easily exportable to a central database at the LCC. Sure the SMS/3g/Wi-Fi options should be tried first, but having an offline backup could help get information there physically. The tool could integrate GPS location so that you don't have to know where you are as mentioned by the instructor. And have a checklist of problems/things to report in a very simple drag down, select severity 0-10 style sliders and a 'save report'.
That database could then be synced with a central hub that could quickly analyse all the data and help the LCC make decisions on those field reports. While simultaneously merging reports from different sources and updating the phone app with 'areas already surveyed' markers so when someone goes back out, they can say, oh there's already 5 reports on this area, I'll go 2km down the road and try there.
k so, sorry for the wall of text, I literally just got out of training and am about to jump out the door, but wanted to type this all out before I forgot all my details.
Please feel free to say my idea's are dumb, or that you could do better, with additional suggestions. I'm trying to keep the scope to things I know can be implemented with today's technology and shouldn't take horribly long to develop.
Also, perhaps you've got an idea from all the experiences you've gathered thus far, maybe this would be a good place to jot down notes, and someone could take ownership of a project and say, yes I like that I'll work on it. Aggregating and analyzing data is something we've managed to do a lot of in the last few decades, and they're constantly getting better. I personally love open source because they share ideas and others improve on those ideas and in the end you can get some amazing products out of them.
Worst case scenario, no one reads this because it's too long, or they're not interested and things just keep going on the way they are now. But that isn't too bad is it? So might as well suggest, something, maybe someone really talented out there will think it's worth making.
Wow! Appreciate this information brother! We will see what we can do!