OpenCrisis Townhall 14th August 2013

Meeting: OpenCrisis TownHall
Date: 14th August 2013
Agenda: a roundup of what we’d been doing and deployments we’ve heard about in the past month; a check on what groups and people needed; and a vague plan for the coming month.

Past month: activities

Catalytic Converter event

  • Who: Om/Sara/Dhairya
  • When: 9-11 August 2013
  • Details: Om, Dhairya and Sara all attended, as did John Crowley (now World Bank), Dave Warner (“beer for data” Dave), Willow (well she had to attend because she was organising it) and lots and lots of other friends of crisismapping too!
    The first day, Saturday, we ran a session talking about OpenCrisis, with 3 questions: 1) should we do this, 2) what should we do, and 3) what do people need. It’s a pretty strong “yes” on number 1, although we went through lots of discussion about how crisismapping groups should connect into the main system too… 2) was pretty much “what we’ve already starting doing”, e.g. keeping people informed about techniques, groups, what’s going on etc; and 3) see under 2).
    The second day, Dhairya ran a session creating a “playbook” for setting up technology and stuff to get a local crisismapping group started – then put it into practice by starting Crisismappers Boston. I ended up in a coding team, adapting Ushahidi so it could work across a whole set of interconnected sites, e.g. one per town etc, and building all the automatic mechanisms to have them sharing data whenever they got connectivity – doing this means a) it’s possible to add Ushahidi to the data systems that are being created by the Open Humanitatian Insitute specifically for use by responders in disasters, and b) it’s possible to build an Ushahidi system that *won’t* fall over if the main datasite dies. There were also a whole pile of useful connections made, often involving beer.

OSCON event

  • Who: Sara
  • When: July 24th 2013
  • Details: Sara represented OpenCrisis on an all-star panel of digital humanitarians at the OSCON open source event. We now have a standing offer from SocialCoding4Good to list OpenCrisis when it’s ready for primetime viewing.

Disaster Stress

  • Lots of articles on digital humanitarians and PTSD this month (including one by Leesa).

OC website

  • Om creating a template for events, and adding page for Khartoum floods responses

Info4Disasters country workbooks

  • Info4Disasters started creating pre-populated workbooks for at-risk countries.

Past month: Deployments

Sudan Floods – Imagery (just activated)

  • Sudan Floods – HOT OSM tasks 289, 292, 293; assistance with mapping, data analysis
  • Location: Sudan (Khartoum)
  • For: Nafeer (local community volunteer organisation)
  • Leads: Séverin Menard, Brendan O’Hanrahan (unofficial)
  • Details: Sudan Floods HOT activation wiki, Sudan Floods resources repository
  • Active: unknown

VOST -Owyee fire

  • Location: USA
  • For:
  • Lead: VOST
  • Details:
  • Active:

Events with monitoring but not deployments:

  • New Zealand: Wellington Earthquake
  • Philippines: Typhoon Utor


  • Book module in OpenCrisis website (Om) – already in
  • Drupal template for crisis pages (see also – Om is creating.
  • Info4Disasters needs help populating its Global EOCs – contact is Leesa
  • Instructions on how to engage emergency orgs (FEMA, RC, EOC’s etc.), stating their hierarchy and where civilians interface (Om)
  • Analysis of lessons learnt from previous crisis (Sara)

Next month’s plan

  • Open Humanitarian Initiative workdays, Boston, – Sara attending, working on distributed Ushahidi and datasets.
  • Analysis of lessons learnt – see OC tasks list ( for who’s doing which event. It’s okay to do this slowly, s’long as it continues to be done.
  • Write instructions on how to engage – Sara and Leesa drafting, with Donna proofing and eyeballs and help from all.
  • Crisis templates – Om continuing to work on these. Brendan happy to provide extra eyes.


  • Next TownHall meeting: 11th September 2013. TownHalls are on the second Wednesday of every month, at 12pm EST / 5pm GMT unless otherwise stated. Remaining townhalls for 2013 are: 11th September, 9th October, 13th November, 11th December.