[gnulinuxinasia] Taking a Srilankan disaster solution to another level, via Philippines

  • From: "Frederick Noronha [फ्रेडरिक नोरोंया]" <fred@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bytesforall_floss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, gnulinuxinasia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 15:49:36 +0530


Taking a Srilankan disaster solution to another level, via Philippines

SYDNEY, Australia -- Geek, trainer, technophile... Bobby Soriano is
all that and more. From talks in Africa on human-rights-based
software, to demos related to blogging, links in cyberspace point to
the diverse interests of this 40-year-old Filipino übergeek.

Soriano is part of the IPD-Philippines, the Institute for Popular
Democracy, an organisation whose goal is "research for change,
education for empowerment, analysis for action, democracy as
advocacy". IPD-Philippines is one of the APC's youngest members and
Soriano's current concerns with shaping-up an open source disaster
management software reflect only a tiny but emblematic part of what
IPD does. Excerpts from an interview with APCNews.

APCNews: To begin, tell us about some of your current work with
Sahana, the free and open source software disaster management

Soriano: Sahana is a project from Sri Lanka done by LankaSoft. They
created it two weeks after the (Indian Ocean killer 2004) tsunami.
Then it grew. It is now available via (the collaborative software
development management system) Sourceforge.net, and has also been the
Free Software Foundation award-recipient for the best humanitarian

APCNews: So what are you guys planning to do with Sahana? What does it
currently achieve?

Soriano: The idea is that it's a disaster management software; so you
can only use it during an actual disaster. Its modules are currently
designed to be that way. Take a look at sahana.org. But, in actual
life, it would help to have a pre, during and post coverage for any

The limitation with Sahana is that it is useful only during the actual
disaster because it has been developed in that way and to meet those

APCNews: Could you explain how it works?

Soriano: Currently, Sahana has different modules. It has a
volunteer-management module where trough the web, people can sign on
and input their name and areas of expertise.

There is also a missing person's registry. If you have a relative
missing, you can upload descriptive information with full details, and
also add a picture. People can pick up on your entry and contribute by
identifying a missing person.

There's also a relief inventory management. People can log in and
declare what they would like to help with. The camp management tool
can be used to take care of relief camps that have been set up. It
helps sharing information at the press of a few keys, on how many
families there are and what requirements need to be fulfilled.

It would also help you know whether you can manage it from the
inventory listing. Very often, during times of disaster, it happens
that most relief goes to one camp, because the others have not been
registered. It also has a geographic information system (GIS) module,
so you can put in the actual locations of different camps.

APCNews: In what directions could Sahana go?

Soriano: The Sahana version only has Google Maps application
programming interface (API). But in the newer version, you can put in
your own maps or get other versions for the maps.

Maybe one could pull out some of the modules. These could be placed in
some other sites. For instance, a volunteer management module could be
built in your own site, and kept running 24x7. Those wanting to
volunteer in the case of a disaster could register on your site. When
the disaster happens, such sites could share information with each
other, as well as the listings.

Instead of waiting for an actual disaster and then putting in
information for volunteers, you can have a campaign call for people
who want to do volunteer work. If a disaster happens, getting the
listing of potential volunteers is just an XML feed. You can identify
one Sahana site close to you and simply dump that entire effort under
one common site.

It would be faster to build up the database in times of need.

APCNews: What are the possible ideas of linking up Sahana's disaster
management strengths with those of a content management system (CMS)
such as Joomla or Drupal (tool to build easy and ready websites)?

Soriano: What we need to do is to just pull in the actual code from
Sahana to the CMS -not changing the code of Sahana. It means
integrating a Sahana module in any CMS - say, for instance, volunteer
management, relief inventory - into one's own site. It is possible.

The entire project and its impact would then grow much bigger; and you
would not even have to set up own Sahana site to make the solution

We have talks with the IOSN (UNDP-backed International Open Source
Network). IOSN is looking at the possibility of setting up a Sahana
central, a pointer to different Sahana sites. You could then have a
central server, which points you to Sahana websites in different
areas, to be deployed speedily in times of disaster.


Author: --- (Frederick Noronha for APCNews)
Contact: fn at apc.org
Source: APCNews
Date: 05/22/2007
Location: SYDNEY, Australia
Category: Members

FN: Frederick Noronha
Phone 0091-832-2409490 Cell: 091-9822122436 or 9970157402 (after 1 pm)
A film on copyright! GOOD COPY BAD COPY:  a documentary about the
current state of copyright and culture.

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