Today, I came across a website, http://www.humaninet.org/index.html, which is an organization that helps facilitate “vital connections for the field.” HumaniNet focuses on helping humanitarian efforts throughout the developing world stay connected and communicate with team members under less than optimal conditions (no electricity, no internet, no mobile phone grid, etc.). This organization saw a need for “reliable, effective global communications,” especially in times of crisis when communication is most vital among members of disaster relief teams. Even in times of relative tranquility, “poor communications and paper processes” slow the progress of humanitarian organizations, although time grows even more important during situations of duress. HumaniNet functions to pursue research in order to better inform organizations of the different technologies and practices available to enhance their communicative effectiveness. Additionally, HumaniNet provides technical assistance in using the actual ICT devices and even works with organizations to find ways to reduce the costs of such ICTs. Catholic Relief/Caritas, Oxfam, and UNICEF are just a few among the many organizations which HumaniNet has assisted in some way.
Each month, HumaniNet focuses on one organization for its outstanding and effective use of ICTs in humanitarian and disaster response efforts, in September, HumaniNet spotlighted Eagles Wings Foundation (EWF), a 501(c)(3) based in West Palm Beach, FL, that works to bring disaster relief to those in need. EWF has provided disaster relief during several major US hurricanes and in the Haitian and Japanese earthquakes as well. This organization seeks to “deliver critical goods” to people who have trouble reaching distribution centers or otherwise acquiring basic needs. EWF employs “Pathfinder Eureka” software to organize its data and perform its role in devastated communities. After conducting brief training sessions, EWF volunteers head out into the field to collect data pertaining to people in need of specific items who cannot procure them without assistance. The data are then programmed into the software via military grade cell phones that can operate without cell towers where its is compiled into a summary of needs distribution. With this compiled data, the volunteers are then able to assemble and deliver the goods to where they are needed most.