Crisis Commons: A Distributed Technology Community for Disaster Response

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Facilitated by Jeannie Stamberger, CrisisCommons

Jeannie will shares stories and learnings of from the work of the Crisis Commons network.

CrisisCamp is a global network of hybrid barcamp/hackathon events which bring together people and communities who innovate crisis response and global development through technology tools, expertise and problem solving. Since 2009, CrisisCamp volunteers have created crisis response and learning events in over 10 countries with volunteers of all backgrounds who collaborate in an open environment to aggregate crisis data, develop prototype tools and train people on how to use technology tools and problem solving to aid in crisis response and global development.

CrisisCommons, borne from the CrisisCamp movement, is a concept that is being explored to define how a commons-based approach can provide long term sustainability for the CrisisCamp community as well as other volunteer technology communities and support shared knowledge, collaborative tools, open development, project management and data to crisis response organizations in civil incident management and global development as well as leverage capabilities and capacities of academia and private sector.


Crisis Common

  • not 501c3
  • not a business
  • meetups for disaster reponse from people of all different specitialites
  • july 2009 - international crisis congress
    • major ngos, UN, World Bank, US Mil, FEMA, MSFT, GOOGLE were all thre
  • Jeannie is the executive of Silicon Valley and wants to help San Francisco

Crisis Camp in Box

  • Sweet of Tools to help start crisis camps everywhere

Working with Google People Finder and Usahidi

  • Tweet for Tweet to help with populating the data

One off projects that are not supported on the groudn

  • Using Google Dashboard to start disaster relief (in beta status)
    • Single Sign in and widgets to be able to be like an internal network
      • Calendar
      • Chat
      • Wiki
  • SMS messages would crowdsource from disaster relief

Volunteers can work once they come up

  • Face2Face work
  • Remote works
    • but Face2Face and Remote is difficult -- why is this difficult
    • People remote feel left out
    • Have face2face start before letting remote people coming
  • Remote and Face pair programming to help encourage

To prepare in advance, all practictioners showed up but no developers

San Bruno fires

  • Volunteers mappers were working with emergency commanders (incident command)
  • GPS tags about the blast site before everybody trampled on
  • Not worried about credibility and able to get a pass through

Just in Time training

  • Instant volunteers tend to strain resources when a disaster happens
  • With techs, trainings become obsolete very quickly

Some people are not happy with it become an organized community


  • Organizing SMS data
  • Examining HAM data
  • Troubleshooting code
  • Writing code for the financial system
  • Resource Tracker with Ushahidi
  • One off projects didn't work out but carried out ones or maintining ones work
    • Difficult to get developers prepared with their environemnts

Non-crisis Camp

  • At Nasa-Ames had companies prepare prizes
  • Weekly meetups to help gather and organize or a core group of people
  • People volunteer for the social experience
    • Examples of building social support
  • Great way of recognizing people

Techies usually have to become eventplanners

Extraoridinaries - used missing people to crowdsource news reports

Do some prep work before actually coming

Very common to use programmers as references to existing environments

Barn raising method to build the capacity of training

Way to incentivize people to come in and help out and continue working

  • Social Networks
    • Create an existing social network is diffuclut to do
    • People don't read the wiki, people don't look at the spreadsheet
    • It is better to jump in an existing community service
  • Having structure
    • We need X amount of people

Competition with random acts of kindness

To get involved

  • Contact crisis commons head in a city
  • Contact heather the head
  • Go on the website (

Good ways to volunteer recognizition

  • Titles - Give people titles for volunteering and a sense of ownership
  • Social Reinforcement
  • Linked in Recommendations
  • Keep connection in the end of impact
    • Objective correlation impact
  • Coders can put something in the backend to see if someone is using it (visual feedback)
  • Narrative story
    • Taking photos
    • Videos of people
  • Physical Momentum (help remind people)
    • Pens
    • T-Shirts

Building a community on the spot

  • Exchanging email addresses
  • Create facbook group to keep in contact

Non-Sexy Disasters

  • Floods in Peru and Pakistan
  • Not many people consider a disaster