How can we use open source software to help people in crisis?

Today we see over 59.5 million people on the move; we spend $27 million per day, and has more than 50 000 organizations working to assist refugees. To deal with humanitarian emergencies awakened by war or natural disaster, it is becoming increasingly important for humanitarian organizations to utilize new technologies that can help with communication, information gathering and data analysis.

Aid workers may face armed militants; earthquake-prone landscapes filled by blocked roads and dilapidated buildings, lots of displaced people on the move, or a confusing situation where dozens of aid organizations are trying to help at the same time, but not coordinated with each other.

“Providing humanitarian assistance can be a very complicated bill. Through advances in technology, together we can redefine how we approach more and better solutions. “Linda Malmgren, Head of Communications, Mobile Heights.

So how can technology help?

People in the poorest countries can now buy mobile phones and use social media. During a crisis such as the recent earthquake in Japan or last year’s disaster in Haiti, people has been texting and tweeting where they are and what problems that they’re facing.

Another important source of information is the network of volunteers and technologically skilled people using satellite images and other sources to quickly create maps of the affected areas. In Berlin, for example, refugees used the simplest technique to identify necessary resources in the city. To improve information flows for rescue personnel and refugees could be revolutionary.

Open Hack

During the first weekend in December is collected up to 200 designers, engineers and programmers interested to work together with humanitarian organizations to address both recurrent and topical issues. With the help of open source and creative thinking, we create challenges by building foundations that we can grow, but also inspire others in how to do humanitarian work with a laptop in her lap.

The large amounts of data that are now available must be managed and analyzed. So how do we handle data streams from different sources and use them to actually produce something useful?

The goal is to create a unique opportunity to reconnect with our humanity, using technology as a foundation.” Linda Malmgren, Head of Communications, Mobile Heights

But it’s not about the technology itself, the focus is on developing solutions that are clearly demanded by those who see the needs in the field every day.

Together with organizations such as the Danish Refugee Council, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and ActionAid have developed clear requirements specifications.

“Participants will be able to choose between developing their own projects from scratch, or build on, and inspired by two existing projects that are in place with staff. From Nairobi, we are visited by Ushahidi, a crowd-platform, such as is used for managing data at several natural disasters. “Johan Linåker, Project Manager, Open Hack

Participants can also choose to work with the Node-RED, a simple open-source tool to use for the visualization of data for the Internet of Things. IBM Bluemix offered as an open platform on which developers can build, run and manage their applications / services.

For more info about the event visit: www.openhack.io

Growing Community

Neo4j, Jayway, IBM, VentureLab, Mobile Heights, Malmo Startups, Engineers Without Borders, LUFOSS, Lund University, Copenhagen Business School, University of Malmö, Malmö Univerity for Refugees, IBM Bluemix, Malmo University of Applied Sciences, Technical University of Denmark, Swedsoft, Code @ LTH , Copenhagen University, the IT University of Copenhagen, THINK, MSF, Action Aid, the Danish Refugee Council.