Haiti is in sheer survival mode right now and technology is helping in ways that will not only benefit earthquake survivors in the coming weeks, but also in the years to come.
Geeks have been pondering since last weekend -- the first series of Crisis Camps for Haiti took place in D.C., Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Denver, Brooklyn and London on January 16. A "camp" is an informal gathering where techies gather to brainstorm, share and develop ideas. In emergencies, they provide "data, information, maps and technical
assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public," according to the
The work at a camp can result in practical technology. Such was the case last weekend, when campers started developing useful tools for the Haiti relief effort. According to a CNN report, campers put together "a digital map to help relief groups coordinate their efforts" as well as "applications for the iPhone and other smartphones, including a Creole-to-English dictionary."
Miami will be hosting its Crisis Camp for Haiti this Saturday, January 23 from noon to 5 p.m, at the Miami Herald Building (One Herald Plaza, Miami). Crisis Camp is not necessarily for those who are technically inclined; although geeks will code programs, everyone is welcome to participate and share ideas.
Possible topics for Saturday's camp include: tweaking the use of Twitter, a Port-Au-Prince basemap, a Haiti timeline, family reunification systems, an NPR crisis wiki, mobile applications for crisis response, language and translation, mapping NGOs in action and a Craigslist type of application. There is never a strict agenda.
Crisis Camp is a strictly grassroots effort, spearheaded by by Alex de Carvalho (@alexdc), Patrick Barbanes (@pbarbanes) and Stephen Malagodi (@malagodi). Carvalho hopes local geeks and others will be part of the international effort. "Seven cities will be running Crisis Camps this weekend," said Carvalho over the phone yesterday. "But in Miami we're in a very unique position because we're so close to Haiti. We also want to get the local Haitian community involved."
Carvalho is well aware of the mission of Crisis Camps, which is to help all communities in times of disaster relief: "Miami is in the path of hurricanes and someday we're going to need help. We won't be online if we're underwater, but the rest of the world will be. We have the good will to help others because we all need help at some point."
Miami's Crisis Camp for Haiti is still looking for sponsors, volunteers, and loans of audio-visual equipment.
For more information visit Crisis Camp Miami - Haiti or email the organizers at [email protected]. Register for free at Eventbrite. For news about Crisis Camps across the world, visit Crisis Commons. Discuss Crisis Camp on Twitter using the #crisiscamp hashtag.