OpenCrisis Townhall meeting 20th December 2013

What’s This?

Meeting: OpenCrisis TownHall

Date: 20th December 2013

Agenda: a roundup of what we’ve 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.

Last month: November 13th 2013 minutes.


What’s Happened?

Past month: Deployments

Big news this month was the Yolanda typhoon across the Philippines. Mapping work there is still ongoing for HOT OSM, MapAction, DRL and newer/smaller mapping groups.


  • What: Typhoon Yolanda

    • who:  DHN (SBTF, HOT, MapAction etc), Geeklist, and pretty much every aid agency on the planet.

    • where:  Philippines

    • what:  Various map creation, list creation etc tasks. Bert Brugghemans doing field research with Disaster Resilience Lab.  Sahana Eden deployment for matching donations to requests by agencies.

    • Deployment dates:  November 2013-ongoing.


  • What: Media mapping in Philippines

    • who:  Info4Disasters

    • where:  Philippines

    • what:  Creating lists of active media across the Philippines for Internews.

    • Deployment dates:  13th November 2013-.


  • What: UK/Netherlands storm surge event

    • who:  Jus Mckinnon (UK) / Netherlands

    • where:  UK and Netherlands

    • what:  Monitoring twitter feeds as unusual storm tide approached East Coast UK and Netherlands (both low-lying areas). UK spreadsheet and instructions; UK ushahidi page.

    • Deployment dates:  5th December 2013.

  • Events with monitoring but not deployments:

    • .


Past month: Activities


  • Humanitarian Data Project

    • who: Gabriele Almon et al

    • what: plan to create a repository of crisis datasets from lists by Karen Payne et al. OC (Sara/Pat) wrote code to port existing google spreadsheet data into CKAN instance… look for the “HDP” organisation in it.

    • where: skypechat (ask Luis, Sara, Gabriele, Hemant, Joseph, Brendan to get in)

    • when: ongoing


  • Actionable Needs Project

    • who: Hemant Purohit leading

    • what: seems to have gone quiet (will ping Hemant and see if still ongoing – BOH)


  • Wikimapia API

    • who: Svend-Jonas Schelhorn investigating

    • what: Wikimapia API seems to work, with some minor questions left (e.g. does it contain all the data that’s visible on-screen). (that’s kinda a big question!! BOH).

    • Biggest problem perhaps is limit on no. of results that can be thrown out from api (BOH)


  • RHOK

    • Supported RHOK DC and RHOK Southampton, including linking them up with Philippines-based teams.


Other activities:

  • Talk on crisismapping given to DataKind NYC meetup (Sara).

  • OpenCrisis applied to the Digital Humanitarian Network. No response (or acknowledgement) seen since.

  • GIS and Geolocation section added to the OpenCrisis “book” (

  • Rebuilt website front-end.

  • 4th December was Eliana Zemmer’s birthday. Eliana Day has now happened on the 4th of every month since we heard about her death.

  • DisasterNet weekly roundups look interesting (Brandon Greenberg) – worth looking at?

  • New SBTF core team – congratulations to everyone who applied for and now have posts in the SBTF core team.  Work well, guys!


News, Announcements etc


  • Next TownHall meeting: 17th January 2014.   TownHalls are on the second Friday of every month (formerly Wednesdays), at 12pm EST / 5pm GMT unless otherwise stated.  Townhalls for 2014 are: 17th January, 14th February, 14th March, 11th April, 9th May, 13th June, 11th July, 8th August, 12th September, 10th October, 14th November, 12th December.

  • Drupal site – is it working for us?  Would a wordpress + wiki work better?  Features needed include easy to search, usable for both visitors and contributors, easy to manage. What we’ve done to date is a) maintain skype and online alerts about new deployments, b) kept logs of crisismapping activity month-by-month, c) written advice sheets about various aspects of crisismapping, d) mentored other crisismapping teams, and e) generally acted as glue between established and establishing crisismapping groups, with a particular emphasis on data-related service.  Our best role seems to be as a connector between users, builders etc. and information service about what’s out there etc.

  • Incorporation. OC incorporation in New Jersey is going slowly, but it will happen. Also need to think about structure and incorporation options.

  • Going to meetings as “Open Crisis”.  Please do – we work under “commander’s intent” – e.g. you do what you think is sensible, nobody takes the piss, and if we’re not sure about something, we ask each other for advice.


What do we need to do?

Last month’s plan


  • Long discussion about OC incorporation. will have a separate OC meeting about this… Brendan setting up Doodle for it (DONE)

  • Long discussion about OC platform – needs, and suitable platform alternatives. Brendan setting up Doodle for it. (DONE)


Next month’s plan

  • Sara to make list of all the people and groups who email her about crisismapping.

  • Platform discussion.

  • Incorporation discussion.