Tag Archives: Red Cross

Nepal ICT4D Resources

National ICT Policy:

Information Technology Policy, 2057 (2000)

Language: English

Date: 2000

Published by The National Information Technology Development Council

 

Information Technology Policy, 2067 (2010)

Language: Nepali

Date: 2010

Published by The National Information Technology Development Council

 

Government Websites:

National Information Technology Center (NITC)

Language: English

Date: 2010-2014

 

Office of Controller of Certification

Government of Nepal, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment

Language: English (documents in Nepali)

Date: 2012

 

Case Studies:

Emergency Training in Nepal

Date: 2011

Agency: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nepal

Published by: ICT Humanitarian Emergency Platform

Goal: Improve communication and informational capabilities during earthquakes in order to create better, more efficient disaster responses.

 

External (Non-Governmental) Resources:

ICT Association of Nepal

Language: English

Date: Established in 2008

Information: NGO and non-profit that promotes ICT access throughout Nepal. Its mission is to increase knowledge exchange and technological skills in order to advance ICT for development.

 

ICT4E in India and South Asia- Nepal Country Study

Author: Kevin Donovan

Language: English

Information: Author explores the relationship between ICT and Education in Nepal as a method to improve overall development.

 

Note for Nepal ICT Research: Refer to such policies as “Information Technology” or “IT” policies as the titles of most Nepalese ICT documents leave out the word “Communication”. Also, authorship and ownership of policies, regulations, and guidelines are tricky to find, so pay attention to the different government departments and offices that the policies come out of.

Advertisements

ICT and Disaster Preparedness: A Nepalese Case Study

In today’s ICT4D class we explored the use of technology during emergencies. While I was initially aware of ICTs for the purpose of humanitarian efforts following a disaster or country emergency, I was not completely versed in the potential that ICT has during before and during the actual emergency event. Following our discussion of ICT for disaster resilience, I decided to do some research on my focus country, Nepal. Situated in a highly volatile geographic region, Nepal is susceptible to massive earthquakes on a fairly regular basis. Therefore, the humanitarian efforts in the country have given a significant amount of thought to the integration of ICT for disaster preparedness. According to an article by the ICT Humanitarian Emergency Platform, Nepal is working on reducing the impact of natural disasters through the use of ICT. Specifically, the International Committee of the Red Cross has developed an Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) for maintaining communication during an earthquake.

The EPP includes a number of procedures to maintain information and communication throughout a disaster. To start with, they have technical physical equipment stored away for easy transportation and relocation. During a disaster, the plan initiates communication to the Headquarters in Geneva which then deploys a secondary emergency response. The plan also includes setting up communication with satellite phones and establishes connections to the office and corporate networks from remote locations. The goal of the plan is to keep officials in contact with each other because “communications is one of the most important tools during an emergency response operation.”

The plan, however, does not go into detail on what to do once communications are set up. Importantly, ICT during a disaster is necessary but not sufficient to reducing harm and damage to a country and its people. Similarly, even if officials have access to communication and information, it does not mean that anyone else does. I would like to find further emergency plans for Nepal that explore how ICT can be an advantage to the average person on the ground during a disaster. More so, I would like to see how ICT is integrated into the preparation, response, and recovery of more organizations in Nepal beyond The Red Cross. All questions aside, I was pleasantly surprised that humanitarian efforts in Nepal had integrated ICT into their action plan.


The Power of OpenStreetMap

Before our class today, I had never heard of OpenStreetMap, map crowd sourcing or using different maps to collect data and help in disaster response. I am in no way a map enthusiast but the work that the Red Cross was able to do in Gulu, Uganda and in Tacloban City, Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan by using OSM is very remarkable. Upon further research into OpenStreetMap, I came across their sister company CloudMade. CloudMade uses maps from OSM to allow users to access map data, points of interest, navigation, routing and other data around their location even when not connected to the Internet. It all sounds well and good but I was still skeptical about the feasibility of this operation and even the necessity of OpenStreetMap when the map market already has technological heavyweights such as Google Maps, Nokia HERE, TomTom and to some extent companies like FourSquare and Yelp.

But as this article suggests, monopolies on markets are not healthy for anyone involved. Furthermore, OpenStreetMap and founder Steve Coast’s other business endeavors have helped to revolutionize how we look at it and use maps. As of January 2014, OSM had over 1.5 million registered editors, with that number only growing because of the simple editing features that allow and encourage anyone with computer knowledge to contribute to the mapping platform. Obviously no mapping system is 100% accurate and even more so when the editing platform is open to the public. And with OSM and CloudMade offering international maps via Wi-Fi and in offline modes, this allows for people all over the globe to navigate without giving away personal location details, a big concern with users of Google Maps. This accessibility is certainly a major advantage that OSM possesses and explains why it has been such a helpful tool for the Red Cross in disaster relief. I am a big proponent of crowd sourcing and I believe that Wikipedia has shown that using volunteers and peer editing can be a viable tool for providing information. I can only hope that OpenStreetMap does the same with maps, not just for disaster response and international development but in all situations.


Digital Volunteers and Micro-volunteering

We’re familiar with the case study of the Red Cross utilizing digital volunteers during natural disasters. However, digital volunteers aren’t just limited to emergencies, and Red Cross isn’t the only organization that’s utilizing international volunteers. ‘Virtual’ volunteers are contributing to development projects around the world. The advent of widespread ICT usage means that volunteers can contribute to a project that’s happening in a different country (or even continent!) just as easily as a project in their own.

Several websites, such as VolunteerMatch, have been used the concept of digital volunteers to drawn attention to projects that require assistance. Users can find projects that interest them and determine what type of activities they can fit into their schedule. Typical volunteer opportunities include translating documents, research, writing blog entries/newsletter articles, doing grant research etc.

This is an extremely useful tool for NGOs in developing nations, since it increases their access to support. For example, international development projects can be a challenge because of the language barrier.  If there isn’t a local volunteer who can assist with translation, then the organization may be able to find someone with the desired skillset through one of these websites.

Virtual volunteering has also spawned the idea of ‘micro-volunteering’, which applies crowd-sourcing to volunteer tasks. Instead of crowd-sourcing news or reports, these organizations allow a large number of people to do small tasks that help a cause or organization. An example of this would be Wikipedia, where millions of contributors assist by editing and adding new information to articles. Other websites have lists of small tasks that can be completed in anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on how much time the volunteer decides to set aside.

I’m glad our guest lecturer brought up the digital volunteers case study. Virtual volunteering is definitely something that appeals to me. It means that I can offer my assistance on a development project that I really care about, but I don’t have to leave my apartment or deal with commuting to and from the location. I only took a cursory glance, but there are a lot of opportunities that I think would appeal to some people in this class. It’s definitely worth looking into!


#Sandy- ICTs Role in Hurricane Sandy

For the sector project this past week, our group presented on ICTs in Disasters and Humanitarian Aid. We described that ICTs can be used for disaster preparedness, disaster response and disaster recovery as a way to warn individuals, mobilize aid, coordinate stakeholders, and locate individuals- just to name a few. With Hurricane Sandy hitting the Northeastern United States this past week, ICTs played a key role in the preparedness and recovery processes. This blog outlines some of the key ICTs that were used during and after the storm to increase efficiency and minimize damage.

–          Twitter: Recommended by FEMA as one of the best ways to communicate and receive data. The Washington Post even ran a story on how to use twitter when you lose internet due to the high volume of users and capability for information dissemination. Also, Twitter s “promoted tweets” were donated to organizations such as the Red Cross so their vital information could be disseminated to twitter feeds across the country

–          Apps such as “Public Stuff” are donating their back-end resources to local governments to use for relief aid.

–          Tracking Apps- Apps such as the Red Cross were used to track the storm to enable individuals to be as prepared as possible for when the storm hit.

–          OpenStreetMaps: program utilized by New York City to allow residents to identify evacuation zones for certain areas to avoid confusion.

–          Maps/Tools: Google offered these services for disaster responders to coordinate need, location and resources.

–          Webcams: webcams were used to get live footage of areas to keep people updated on loved ones and to dissuade people from going outside and “checking”.

–          Open Content: News organizations such as the New York Times took down their paywalls during the storm and post-disaster which allows individuals to access these news sites for free and keep up to date without needing a subscription.

–          Text: Text services were opened up by FEMA to allow citizens to text a number to locate their nearest shelter.

Clearly, ICTs were heavily used in the past few days as the storm hit and in the immediate response. However, I think we will truly see these resources come into play as cities begin to rebuild and and the recovery process is managed and evaluated.


Technology Companies Supporing ICT4D

In chapter 5, Unwin discusses a new paradigm of a “tri-sector” partnership between the public sector, private sector and civil society organizations.  I found the role of the private sector in promoting development particularly interesting.  In regard to technology, major tech firms have specific interests to advance ICT4D, which include financial incentives as well as a corporate responsibility agenda. Technology companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and Dell each support global initiatives using technology to assist people in need and promote socioeconomic development.

Coincidentally, I heard Deb Bauer, the Director of Dell Strategic Giving and Community Engagement speak today about Dell’s social outreach program. She spoke about the Dell Powering the Possible campaign, which aims to use technology to “enable human potential.”  The program invests 1% of their yearly, pretaxed profit towards disaster relief, health services, education and social entrepreneurship.

In the disaster relief division, Dell provided equipment to create the American Red Cross Digital Operations Center.  In the ever-growing world of social media, the command center allows disaster response teams to effectively use social networking sites to find victims and provide relief.  The way the center works is it aggregates content on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social media platforms to target needy areas and connect with emergency victims.  This new technology is a great example of a major tech firms and the private sector using their resources to help people in need.