Some months ago Cat Graham of Humanity Road introduced us to one of the people running the RELIEF events at the Naval Postgraduate School. The RELIEF events are the mecca for anyone working with technology in disaster response situations. Quoting from their own website:
Since 2009, RELIEF has brought humanitarian practitioners, technology developers, federal civilians, and active duty military personnel together for hands-on collaboration. The multi-institutional field setting provides a semi-structured learning environment promoting collaboration and relationship building across an increasingly diverse response network.
The event utilizes different methods of interaction, all of which focus on end user input on disaster response operations. The field environment also provides the opportunity to explore new solutions for crisis responders through hands on interaction and experimentation.
Fundamentally, RELIEF aims to:
- Provide a space for experimentation, demonstration, and dialogue where creative and actionable ideas are encouraged;
- Leverage effective technologies–commercial, military, and otherwise–and create new ones;
- Create effective and lasting partnerships between disparate groups;
- Build tools that increase the capacity of local populations to help themselves in disasters;
- Support and sustain evidence-based research and open exchange of information and findings
RELIEF is intended to reflect and address the most complex challenges identified by those most directly engaged in disaster relief. Participation of field-experienced personnel is highly encouraged. The success of this event is defined by the active engagement of the individuals involved, identifying and addressing the most pressing issues facing the humanitarian assistance and disaster response community.
The introduction by Cat Graham led to an email exchange detailing our work and future plans and we are asked if we would be interested in participating in one of the events. The reply was a loud & clear “Yes sir!”. The procedure is that one submit a white paper outlining what the purpose and aim of the participation is. Participation is depending the acceptance of the white paper. Our white paper was officially accepted last week so we’re “game on”!
Our plan is to tests not only new hardware (again very generously donated by Aruba Networks) but also network management software which addresses amongst other things the BYOD issue which is extremely prevalent in disaster response work where there is very little overview, let alone control, of what devices will be used and by whom. A centralised, pre-configured network management application will allow a wifi network built to cover a larger disaster area to be both security & resourced managed without the network admin people having to personally configure every device. It this technology is of course for future use by our dedicated rapid response team (in formation).
The event is taking place from 13-17 August at McMillan Airfield, Camp Roberts, CA. and we will be sending 4 people to it. Of course this brings certain costs with it. While Aruba Network is donating the WiFi equipment there is other equipment that we need to purchase (tripods, power supplies, cabling etc) as well as food & (budget) accommodation for our team. We are appealing to YOU for support! You can donate securely online using the widget at the bottom on this page. Alternatively you can have a look at other ways of supporting us outlined on that page.