A look back at Haiti and Mission 4636 with Josh Nesbit and Patrick Meier
On the first anniversary of the massive earthquake in Haiti, we are highlighting one of the most successful collaborative efforts that emerged from the devastation. Patrick Meier, director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi and Josh Nesbit, executive director of Medic Mobile (formerly FrontlineSMS: Medic) took to the PopTech stage to describe how the various moving parts of Mission 4636 came together, a short code emergency response communication system that enabled Haitian earthquake victims to receive aid by sending a free text message to 4636.
Using Ushahidi’s free open source mapping platform customized for the disaster, a text message short code initiated by Medic Mobile and dependent on the country’s cellular technology – which remained operational – and a cadre of volunteers and translators, the system was set in motion to respond to emergencies. Thus, this coordinated response was able to meet affected Haitians’ urgent needs for medical care, food, water, security, and shelter in real time – and filter those requests (80,000 text messages were sent in the first month) by geographic area or type of need. In addition to Ushahidi and Medic Mobile, the complex effort drew upon the resources of many for-profit and non-profit entities to bring the project to life including Crowdflower, Samasource, inSTEDD, DigiCel, local radio stations, and on-the-ground relief organizations.
An Ushahidi graphic provides a simple overview of how the process worked.
Currently, Mission 4636 has been turned over to a team of organizers in Haiti. Ushahidi’s work continues, most recently in Sudan where they are mapping polling stations for a nationwide referendum taking place now (January 9-15). And Medic Mobile is being used to map hospitals, roads and kiosks of Korogocho, the largest slum neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya.
Because of PopTech’s focus on unconventional collaborations, we will continue to follow this story further in the coming months so stay tuned.
Image via Ushahidi.
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