Creating Technology for Social Change

Haiti relief efforts, open thread. Latest update: “Looking for Haiti’s Lost, Online”

Chris Csikszentmihályi in the Columbia Journalism Review on Looking for Haiti’s Lost, Online:

A blog or BBS (bulletin board system) is great for chronologically ordering stories or conversations, but the serial format leaves much to desire for exhaustive searches, and two blogs are more than twice as bad. If a cousin of “Jean Deaux” posts that she is looking for news of Jean on one site, and Jean’s friend posts that he is safe on a different site, the cousin might never see it. The greater the number of sites posting lost or found information, the less chance there is that the right people can connect. According to Reed’s Law, the value of a network grows exponentially with the number of its members. Silos, while great for grain, are terrible for information. What is called for is open, interchangeable data.

From Andrew Slack of the Harry Potter Alliance:

I have excellent news! The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) has raised since 2 pm on Saturday $42,899 for Partners In Health – by the time I wake up, it is likely to have broken $43,000.

Our livestream on Saturday which featured Dale laying out the importance of Partners In Health, went on for over 5 hours and had 19,000 unique visitors and at one point 1800 people on at the same time.

The project was called Helping Haiti Heal (#hhh) and made around number 7 on Twitter’s trending topics.

From Ushahidi:

The 4636 SMS Shortcode for Reporting in HaitiM

Yesterday, with the help of dozens of people from multiple organizations, we launched an SMS short code in Haiti!

If you are in Haiti, report emergency info and location by texting 4636.

Subscribers on the DigiCel network in Haiti can now report incidents by sending text messages free of charge to 4636. The shortcode makes it even faster and easier for eyewitnesses to report developments on the ground.

More at >>

Have a Haiti app? Don’t silo it! Center Director Chris Csikszentmihalyi quoted by New York Times’ tech columnist David Pogue, encouraging developers to use the Google volunteer-created standard embed: And thanks to our friends at the Knight Foundation, his request has also been picked up by Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing: and are setting up easy-to-use tech for announcing, finding, and tracking missing persons.

Washington Post, another article on our friend Patrick Meier from Tufts and Ushahidi: Crisis mapping brings online tool to Haitian disaster relief effort

BBC News: Social networks and the web offer a lifeline in Haiti

Chris Csik. and Josh Levinger have collected these sources:

Some of the mapping responses:
GeoEye released satellite coverage from yesterday

OSM rapid response, working on mapping temporary camps, WMS available

Also the US state dept is experimenting with the short code 200 for Ushahidi and other endeavors


Thanks to Josh Levinger who sent many of these sources.


From Katrin Verlcas:

Prabhas [Pokharel] is writing it up. UPDATE: “Earthquake in Haiti: How you can help”. Looks like satellite is up, mobile providers intermittently with Digicel most reliable from what we are hearing. Digicel is also donating $5 million. Prabhas is posting for us on all of the efforts we are aware of in the next few hours / feel free to repost that. It’ll be a bit of a round-up, though.

TSF (Télécoms Sans Frontières) has deployed a team from the American base in Managua for support in emergency telecoms. They are carrying satellite mobile and fixed telecommunications tools. Reinforcements will also be sent from TSF’s international Headquarters. In close contact with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), they are now flying to Saint-Domingue in order to rejoin Port-au-Prince as soon as possible.

More as I know it.

Ethan Zuckerman says that they’re covering things closely at Global Voices:

Georgia Popplewell, our managing director, is coordinating coverage. She’s pretty swamped now, but would likely have some insights later in the day about what needs, possible projects might be.

Georgia has assembled Tweets that went out following the quake, including the earliest reports that a hospital had collapsed. They also include some of the earliest photos of damage, such as this one uploaded by @LisandroSuero:

A master’s student from MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology just asked:

Is there a platform for low-cost mesh networking whose nodes could be spread throughout the country? It seems like we should be able to drop hundreds of small solar-powered nodes around the country to provide a low-bandwidth communications infrastructure…

There must be someone somewhere working on a project like this…

Our @Chrysaora tweets:

Impressed by NYT for #haiti:… Emphasizing useful resources over self-promotion, trendy tech

…and follows up with info on Haiti resources for Bostonians.