Thursday, May 09, 2013

Help Me Get This Open Source Idea Moving

Last October, two friends and I traveled to New Jersey to assist in the recovery efforts following Superstorm Sandy. Unfortunately, other than delivering some clothing and food, we spent our time riding around in a truck, trying to find out who wanted our help ... where we were needed ... what we could do.

It occurred to me that this area -- coordinating volunteer efforts following a disaster -- was ripe for improvement. Given that technology is a terrific tool for mobilizing groups of people, my mind delivered the following:

A combination mobile application and web site (and Google Glass app!) that allows the overseeing authority [OA] (Red Cross? FEMA? Armed Forces?) to direct and instruct volunteers, and also gather data.

How it works:

Disaster strikes. Hurricane, tornado, earthquake, terrorist attack, etc.

(Just writing that is heartbreaking)

So you're a volunteer. You head to the area. Perhaps alone, perhaps a Team of volunteers that will act as a unit.

On your way, you use your mobile app to indicate your skills, abilities, assets, etc. For example, "Three people in our team. Skills include Destruction, Construction, Counseling, Technology, Cooking. Assets include chainsaw, generator, 700 pounds of food."

At this point, the overseeing authority is able to use the web site to view the location of Teams, since their GPS will provide their location.

The OA is now able to see where teams are. Assuming they are getting requests for assistance, they can  use the web site to direct one or more teams to a specific area.

The mobile app and Google Glass app allow the Team to record pictures and/or videos for damage assessment, success of efforts, etc.

The OA can publish "How To" videos to the mobile users.

All this time, metrics are being gathered and published.

This all runs on "The Cloud", allowing it to easily scale UP and DOWN as activities start and wind down.

OTHER IDEAS WELCOMED.

Some unknowns:

Who do we make sure the OA is, in fact, the legitimate OA?
How can we mitigate legal issues, e.g. a volunteer gets injured.

The Goal:

This solution will become a worldwide standard.
This solution will be pre-loaded on EVERY smart phone sold in the world.
This solution will be THE standard for coordinating relief efforts.

Technology:

Undecided. I have a bias toward Ruby on Rails. IT MUST BE BASED ON OPEN SOURCE SOLUTIONS.

Comments welcome.

Finally ...

WHERE DO I START? HOW do I get this rolling?

4 comments:

Glen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen said...

When I was at Yahoo!, we developed a "people finder" for Hurricane Katrina. Google now has one that they brought up for the Boston marathon bombing and that they can use on demand. Big Internet companies like that have the infrastructure to make something like this scale, as well as multiple data centers to keep it running in case one of the DC's is brought down by the disaster. The key would be to expand the software so that it could handle the other ideas—volunteer management, skills alignment, mapping—and fit it into their infrastructure.

Don Schenck said...

Awesome. Thanks, Glen, for the information.

Don Schenck said...

Think about this scenario:

A "lay" person is in a position to help a victim.

Wearing Google Glass, the lay person could, say, apply a tourniquet or bandages (or whatever) while a doctor observed AND OFFERED GUIDANCE.