Josh Nesbit: Reaching out to @Frontline... How a tweet brought makeshift 911 services to life in Haiti. Haiti’s earthquake devastated not only lives.
It destroyed whatever emergency services the barely functioning government had to offer. But in less than five days, a makeshift version of 911 sprung to life. It’s a striking story of how a few tech-savvy social entrepreneurs, receptive ears in the U.S. government and hundreds of Haitian Creole-speaking strangers crowdsourced from around the world were able to help people on the ground get food or medical attention.
Hours after the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, 23-year-old Josh Nesbit (pictured right), who heads a non-profit delivering health care in Sub-Saharan Africa through mobile phones, thought that an SMS gateway would be critical in Haiti. He sent a tweet out asking for help. They started publicizing it on the ground in Haiti through radio stations. Some of them are desperate (identifying information redacted): In some cases, it’s been life-saving. (Top photo is from the United Nations Development Program’s Flickr stream) Josh Nesbit (joshnesbit) PopTech 2009 Social Innovation Fellow Josh Nesbit.
Map 4636 Volunteers Haiti. Center for Future Civic Media. Samasource Give Work. Samasource. Text Messages Save Lives. FrontlineSMS: A free, large scale text messaging solution for NG. Old phones save lives. Donate yours to a medica. Joshnesbit/the4636project. CrowdFlower. Mechanical Turk to Crowdsource Humanitarian Response « iRe. I’m increasingly intrigued by the idea of applying Mechanical Turk services to humanitarian response.
Mechanical Turk was first developed by Amazon to crowdsource and pay for simple tasks. An excellent example of a Mechanical Turk service in the field of ICT for Development (ICT4D) is txteagle, a platform that enables mobile phone subscribers in developing countries to earn money and accumulate savings by completing simple SMS-based micro-tasks for large corporate clients. txteagle has been used to translate pieces of text by splitting them into individual words and sending these out by SMS. Subscribers can then reply with the translation and earn some money in the process. This automatic compensation system uses statistical machinery to automatically evaluate the value of submitted work. In Haiti, Samasource and Crowdflower have partnered with Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS to set up a Mechanical Turk service called “Mission 4636“. See also: Like this: Like Loading... Project 4636 InfoGraphic Ushahidi Blog.
Hot on the heals of Brian’s excellent summary of the 4636 Project development efforts, I’d like to join in with a little info-graphic of sorts.
My goal in putting this together is to present an easy-to-understand “big-picture” graphic that illustrates how a simple SMS, sent from a Haitian in need, can be transformed into a powerful resource that fuels the crisis response and recovery effort. A Quick Recap of Project 4636 And here’s the full graphic: Click the image to see the high-res version. The thing that impresses me most about the whole project is how it all came together: lots of people working together across lots of different organizations. Andrew Turner: "seeing things being created and incorporated in hours what would have taken months. human spirit and camaraderie multiplies capability" Envision good.tv Crowdsourcing. Mission 4636: Providing Emergency Support to Haiti Through Mobil. Unprecedented Role SMS in Disaster Response – Cross-posted on Patrick Meier’s blog iRevolution.
What if we could communicate with disaster affected communities in real-time just days after a major disaster like the quake in Haiti? That is exactly what happened thanks to a partnership between the Emergency Information Service (EIS), InSTEDD, Ushahidi, Haitian Telcos and the US State Department. Just 4 days after the earthquake, Haitians could text their location and urgent needs to “4636” for free. I will focus primarily on the way that Ushahidi used 4636. Since the majority of incoming text messages were in Creole, we needed a translation service. Text messages are translated into English just minutes after they leave a mobile phone in Haiti. Ushahidi Back End Incoming Text Messages View Translated Text If further information is required, then one can reply to the sender of the text message directly from the Ushahidi platform.
The screenshots below show how the “Send Reply” feature works. Preset Replies.