Sahana Connecticut Infragard Briefing May 27, 2010
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Sahana Connecticut Infragard Briefing May 27, 2010



Briefing presented to the Connecticut Infragard Chapter on May 27, 2010 at Travelers Claim University, Windsor, CT

Briefing presented to the Connecticut Infragard Chapter on May 27, 2010 at Travelers Claim University, Windsor, CT



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  • “No innovation matters more than that which saves lives” said the Secretary of National Defense for the Philippines, on the use of Sahana deployed in the aftermath of disastrous mudslides in his country in 2005. At the Sahana Software Foundation, we strive to live up to that statement every day. Our goal is to provide an open source platform that is committed to open standards for data exchange between different applications, to give emergency managers, disaster response professionals and the communities affected by disasters access to the tools and information that they need to better respond to disasters.
  • Sahana is free and open source disaster management software. What that means is that it is free to download, free to use however you wish – there are no license fees - and being open source, it can be easily customized by anyone to serve the needs of any jurisdiction, organization or community. There are many benefits to the use of open source software, which is increasingly recognized for its low barriers to entry and its longevity. The risks and costs are low and the benefits are plentiful. Sahana is about the application of thoseprinciples to disaster management software, and our primary goal is to help victims.
  • The historic trigger for Sahana was the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that left almost a quarter of a million dead, millions homeless and jobless, and several countries devastated structurally, economically and psychologically.
  • The problems faced by both the victims of and responders to disasters are numerous. Beyond the trauma, this involves having to coordinate, manage and track things. In countries affected by large scale sudden onset disasters, these problems can be massive and overwhelming.
  • Technology can address many of the data management challenges and requirements by providing solutions that are scalable, efficient, automatic and by providing live data and situational awareness to both emergency managers and the community.
  • Following the tsunami, Sahana was created by the open source community in Sri Lanka - for use by the Centre for National Operations, which was responsible for coordinating the country’s relief and recovery efforts.
  • Sahana provides a single database for recording who is doing what where – identifying what the needs are – where people are located – and where assistance is needed. The core modules of Sahana include an organization registry, for relief agencies to record their contact information and where they are working. This module also records what services these organizations are providing. Another piece of core functionality is a missing persons and a disaster victims registry for tracking both the missing and the found, those registered at shelters and those needing assistance in family reunification.
  • Sahana has a request management system that provides a simple means to match pledges of donations with aid requirements; and finally, a shelter registry, to record information about the location and demographic data and health status of the population of relief camps and temporary shelters.
  • These core functions and modules have proven their value, and Sahana has grown in its capabilities and been rewritten more than once to make it evenmore capable of addressing the disaster information management needs of emergency responding agencies.Today, Sahana’s capabilities are mature and tested in dozens of deployments following major disasters around the world.
  • Sahana is designed to run on multiple environments – it will even run very stably and reliably off of a USB stick; A Sahana instance can be preconfigured and packaged as a virtual machine image, which greatly speeds and simplifies the challenges of deploying Sahana after a disaster. Sahana has a strong localization and translation capability; it has been translated and localized into dozens of languages – including those using alternative character sets such as Chinese and even right to left scripting languages such as Arabic. Sahana uses open standards for GIS , messaging and data exchange and has extensions for use on mobile devices – including an Android application for situational awareness data collection. Similar applications are planned for the iPhone and other mobile platforms.
  • Since 2004, Sahana has been successfully deployed by national authorities and NGOs to cope with the aftermath of several major disasters, from Asia to the Americas, as well as for emergency preparedness and ongoing assistance projects. Recently, Sahana was deployed for use in response to the massive earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. Sahana has been adopted as a national disaster response system in both the Philippines and Indonesia and was used last year to assist the victims of typhoons in those countries and several others. In the US, Sahana has been adopted by the City of New York to help manage resources for its all-hazards sheltering plan, and is part of a program in Bethesda, Maryland to provide emergency services for a mass-casualty event.
  • Sahana is supported by a global voluntary community of experts in emergency management and open source software developers; our members represent academic institutions, state and local government, international NGOs, emergency management consultants, private sector IT companies, public health experts, and students.
  • Sahana projects are governed by the Sahana Software Foundation, which was established as a non-profit organization in 2009. The mission of the Sahana Software Foundation is to develop and promote free and open source software for disaster management and to promote open standards for data exchange.
  • Recent advancements in Sahana’s GIS, Situational Awareness, and Data Collection Capabilities have been supported by the Sahana Software Foundation’s participation in a series of field experiments as well as recent our deployments in response to the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, ongoing development work for the City of New York and the Bethesda Hospitals Emergency Preparedness Partnership.
  • We have used a $400 netbook as our server as a proof of concept of how easy it is to deploy Sahana. While this netbook server could obviously not withstand dozens of simultaneous requests, it was more than capable of supporting about a half-dozen concurrent users that were entering mostly textual data. For GIS, as Sahana utilizes external map servers to serve up tiles, data layers and imagery, and those requests are placed by the client PCs accessing Sahana and not on the Sahana server itself, there are minimal processing requirements placed on the server hardware.
  • One of the things we wanted to demonstrate was how we could localize Sahana to be US NIMS and ICS compliant – an important requirement for deployments by state and local jurisdictions in the United States. To achieve this, for example, in the organization registry, we defined the services that organizations provided as Emergency Support Functions under the National Response Framework.
  • For remote data collection, we developed an application for the Google Android phone that takes advantage of the Android’s built in GPS. It allows the user to send in a report to Sahana that has the sender’s GPS coordinates embedded in the message. This becomes a powerful tool for crowd sourcing and collecting disaster data directly into Sahana’s situation map during disaster events. We have plans to develop similar applications for the iPhone, Blackberry, PalmPre and other mobile platforms as well as any java-capable web-enabled standard cellphone. Other planned enhancements include the ability for users to view all Sahana data directly on their smart phone using the native mapping applications on their phone.
  • Immediately following the news of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, the Sahana community responded with a new model for our response to disasters.Rather than waiting for a “customer” to come along to request to use Sahana, we immediately started working around the clock to set up a hosted instance of Sahana on a publicly accessible website. This was the first deployment of Sahana's python-language version – now called Sahana Eden.
  • Sahana’s Organization Registry provided a searchable database of organizations responding to the disaster, the sector where they are providing services, their office locations, activities and their contact details.  Organizations were encouraged to self-register and report their office locations or to simply send the Sahana team by e-mail their office or lists of offices. We organized volunteers to assist with data entry and to enter lists from many sources, including pre-disaster lists of organizations working in Haiti available from UN OCHA, as well as active contact lists produced by UNDAC, InterAction and other agencies that included official and accurate points of contact. 
  • To address this, Sahana provided a simple Request Management System where the requests for assistance (such as "send water") were made visible to relief organizations working on the ground.  Sahana added the capability for organizations to claim requests for fulfillment and later mark them as completed.  It also contained a simple ticketing, tracking and reporting system.  
  • We supportedthe work of many other organizations, including InSTEDD, Ushahidi, EIS, the Thomson Reuters Foundation,Crowdflower and Samasource on a project to process SMS messages with requests for assistance and information sent from Haitian citizens and to get that information to the attention of Search and Rescue Teams,the Red Cross and other organizations. This was called Project 4636. SMS text messages sent to short code 4636 in Haiti were translated from Kreyol by Haitian volunteers in the US and put into a structured data format identifying the sender's name, location (to the extent possible), and category of the message.
  • The message were published by a GeoRSS feed that was then captured by Sahana, which allowed humanitarian agencies to review the requests by category, to search and filter and sort them by priority, and make pledges to fulfill the requests. Sahana is now working with Ushahidi to develop the capability to push updates back to Ushahidi so others can see which requests had been responded to. 
  • Structured twitter posts were processed by Project Epic at the University of Colorado at Boulder through a project called “Tweak the Tweet”. This effortdevelopedahashtag-based syntax to help direct Twitter users to communicate in a way that allowed for efficient machine data extraction and categorization of their posts.
  • This data was then able to be organized and imported into Sahana’s Request Management Registry for review and response within Sahana.First responders and urban search and rescue teams used these sources of information to save lives in Haiti.
  • The Sahana Software Foundation is committed to open standards for data exchange, and the REST controller within the Sahana system deployed for Haiti published all of the organization, person, hospital and request data in all of these standards, making it easy for other systems to access the information within Sahana, and to better utilize it to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake. The Sahana Software Foundation supports the work of standards-setting bodies like OASIS and W3C as a part of our Standards and Interoperability Project.I want to go back and speak about a couple of the standards prominent in the Haiti response.
  • The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest medical library and an arm of the National Institutes of Health. They released a version of their Sahana-based "Lost Person Finder" system for the Haitian disaster, called HEPL for “Haiti Earthquake Person Locator”. The interactive web site provides information about people who have been found in Haiti or who are still missing. They also developed a specialized "Found in Haiti" iPhone application to geolocate found persons.  The HEPL system shares information with other person finder systems – including Google’s main Person Finder registry and CNN’s iReport - using the PFIF standard to ensure that all searches operate across the largest possible set of matches.  It provides a more user-friendly public viewer for those searching for a loved one using an interactive Notification Wall, with filters for metadata beyond name, and a supplementary iPhone- or email-based input method. As it returns updates made via the PFIF standard back to their source, it does not duplicate the efforts of having multiple missing persons websites.
  • From the first days after the earthquake, Sahana worked closely with Googleand other organizations to ensure that an agreed common standard for the exchange of Missings Persons data was implemented using the PFIF standard. In past emergencies, literally dozens of conflicting and non-interoperable missing and found persons websites have sprung up; in their attempts to help disaster victims, they succeeded in only making the task of reconciling these records more difficult.By using such a standard as PFIF, it allows multiple systems to add value to a communal dataset without duplicating efforts. In addition to the NLM HEPL system, Sahana also has the ability to build on this dataset in several ways – through – for example, the ability to link missing persons records with those of the deceased in the Disaster Victim Identification registry. In addition, the Sahana Missing Persons registry has additional physical description information fields (not currently being utilized by the PFIF standard).  But because Sahana and Google are utilizing the same published standard for data exchange, any updated missing persons status information that Sahana can provide can be pushed back to the main Google repository through PFIF. We have plans to work with Google and other groups on extending the use of this standard and addressing some of its shortcomings for future response efforts.
  • We could not have been successful without the support, collaboration and cooperative efforts of many other humanitarian open source projects. These partners deserve special recognition. The spirit of cooperation and collaboration amongst all of these groups was unprecedented.
  • Many free and open source application are tools for developers. Sahana is different. It is about providing FOSS solutions for disaster responders.Our community is open and we welcome new contributors interested in FOSS and those interested in disaster management. We provide support to those wishing to use Sahana for disaster preparedness and response and other humanitarian purposes. Please feel free to contact us for more information about how to get involved in Sahana.Sahana is Free and Open Source Software.Thank you.

Sahana Connecticut Infragard Briefing May 27, 2010 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. SahanaFree & Open Source Disaster Information Management Software
    “No innovation matters more
    than that which saves lives”
    Avelino J. Cruz, Jr., Secretary of National Defence of the Philippines
    on the use of Sahana following disastrous mudslides in 2005
  • 2. Sahana
    What is Sahana?
    A free & open source portableweb tool
    Modules designed to address common
    Disaster Management problems
    A Rapid Application Development
    (RAD) platform
    Main Goals
    Bring efficiencies to disaster response
    Facilitate effective information exchange between responders and beneficiaries
    Primary focus is to help victims
  • 3. The Historic Trigger: 12/26/04 Indian Ocean Tsunami
    • At least 226,000 dead
    • 4. Up to 5 million people lost homes, or access to food and water
    • 5. 1 million people left without a means to make a living
    • 6. At least $7.5 billion in the cost of damages
  • Problem: Aftermath of Disasters
    • The trauma caused by waiting to be found or find the next of kin
    • 7. Coordinating all aid groups and helping them to operate effectively as one
    • 8. Managing the multitude of requests from the affected region and matching them effectively to the pledges of assistance
    • 9. Tracking the location of all temporary shelters, camps, etc.
  • How Can Technology Help?
    Scalable management of information
    No stacks of forms and files to manage
    Efficient distribution of information
    Accessibility of information on demand
    Automatic collation and calculation
    No delay for assessments and calculations
    Live situational awareness
    Reports are updated live as data is entered
  • 10. Sahana first deployed by Sri Lanka following tsunami
  • 11. Sahana Core Modules
    • Organization Registry
    • 12. Maintains data (contact, services, etc) of groups, organizations and volunteers responding to the disaster
    • 13. Missing Persons / Disaster Victim Registry
    • 14. Helps track and find missing, deceased, injured and displaced people and families
  • Sahana Core Modules
    • Request Management
    • 15. Tracks all requests and helps match pledges for support, aid and supplies to fulfilment
    • 16. Location Registry
    • 17. Tracks data on all important places to the disaster response, such as temporary shelters and medical facilities
  • Sahana Functionality Overview
    Situation Awareness
    Geospatial Database
    Situation Mapping
    Charts & Reporting
    Person Management
    Person Database
    Victim Tracking & Tracing
    Disaster Victim Identification
    Missing Persons Registry
    Aid Management
    Organization Registry
    Shelter Registry
    Request Management
    Resource Management
    Volunteer Management
    Project Management
    Logistics Management
    Inventory Management
    Hospital Management
    Food Aid Request Portal
    Aid Catalogue
    Communication & Alerting
    E-mail & SMS
    Integration with Situation Mapping
    Alerting System (CAP)
    Alert Aggregation
  • 18. Sahana Technology and Features
    • Environments
    • 19. Linux, Windows, Portable App
    • 20. VM, LiveCD, LiveUSB
    • 21. Translation & Localization
    • 22. Pootle, Character sets
    • 23. Right-to-left scripting
    • 24. Messaging:
    • 25. SMS, GPRS, e-mail
    • 26. GIS & Open Standards:
    • 27. KML, WMS, GeoRSS, WFS
    • 28. EDXL, CAP, JSON, XML
    • 29. Mobile Accessibility
    • 30. Android, iPhone, iPad
    • 31. Blackberry, NetBooks, Cellphones
  • Major Sahana Deployments
    • Ministry of Rehabilitation, Sri Lanka – 2010
    • 32. Earthquake in Chile – 2010
    • 33. Earthquake in Haiti – 2010
    • 34. National Coordinating Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) in Indonesia – 2009
    • 35. National Disaster Coordinating Council in Philippines – 2009
    • 36. Bethesda Hospitals Emergency Preparedness Partnership,Maryland- 2009
    • 37. National Disaster Management Center & Ministry of Resettlement & Disaster Relief Services, Sri Lanka – 2009
    • 38. Chendu-Sitzuan Province Earthquake, China – 2008
    • 39. Ica Earthquake, Peru – 2007
    • 40. Bihar Floods, India - 2008
    • 41. Sarvodaya (NGO), Sri Lanka - 2008
    • 42. Coastal Storm Plan in New York City – 2007
    • 43. Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh – 2007
    • 44. Yogjakarta Earthquake, Indonesia – 2006
    • 45. Landslide disaster in Philippines– 2005
    • 46. Kashmir Earthquake in Pakistan – 2005
    • 47. Asian Tsunami in Sri Lanka – 2005
  • Awards
    • Gartner Inc. Cool Vendor in Risk Management and Compliance - 2010
    • 48. Best Practices Award from Public Private Businesses, Inc. – 2010
    • 49. Sourceforge Community Choice Awards Best Project for Government Finalist – 2009
    • 50. Free Software Foundation Award for Social Benefit – 2006
    • 51. SHG Good Samaritan Award – 2006
    • 52. Sourceforge Project of the Month – June 2006
    • 53. User Award from Redhat Summit – 2005
  • Case Studies
    • UNESCAP Technical Paper: A Case Study of the Sahana Disaster Management System of Sri Lanka – 2009
    • 54. Communications of the ACM: Revitalizing Computing Education Through Free and Open Source Software for Humanity – 2009
    • 55. Disaster Resource Guide Quarterly: New Open Source Software Could Greatly Improve Federal and State Disaster Relief Operations – 2008
    • 56. Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme ePrimer: ICT for Disaster Management – 2007
    • 57. UNDP IOSN Case Study on Sahana – 2006
    • 58. BBC Documentary, The Codebreakers – 2006
  • The Sahana Community
    • A global voluntary team of developers and experts including:
    Emergency Managers
    Relief Workers
    ICT Specialists and Researchers
    Experienced FOSS developers
    Humanitarian Activists
    Nurses and other Public Health Experts
    Global collaboration for the global public good
  • 59. Sahana Software Foundation
    Established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in state of California June 2009
    Took over Governance of Sahana from Lanka Software Foundation (Sri Lanka)
    Mission: To help alleviate human suffering by giving emergency managers, disaster response professionals and communities access to the information that they need to better prepare for and respond to disasters through the use of free and open source software.
  • 60. Recent Advancements in Sahana: GIS, Situational Awareness and Data Collection
  • 61. Minimal hardware requirements:$400* Netbook as Server
    * 2007 price
  • 62. US NIMS/ICS Compliance
    Defines Services as Emergency Support Functions (ESFs)
    Uses DHS FGDC Symbology in Sahana Mapping Client
  • 63. SahanaSMS Android App
    • Embeds GPS coordinates within SMS messages to Sahana.
    • 64. Allows users to send and view data on maps.
    • 65. Similar apps planned for Blackberry, iPhone, PalmPre, and java-capable cell-phones.
  • Sahana & Open Street Maps
    Sahana leverages better data available from Open Street Maps in its own libraries of data and mapping client.
    Sahana and Open Street Maps are coordinating on a common humanitarian information data model.
    Sahana can import and export data to Open Street Maps
  • 66. The Google Maps View of Jalalabad, Afghanistan
  • 67.
  • 68. The Google Maps View of Jalalabad, Afghanistan
  • 69. The Open Street Maps View of Jalalabad, Afghanistan
  • 70. OSM Crisis Mapping in Haiti
  • 71. Google Maps: Port au Prince10 May 2010
  • 72. Open Street Maps: Port au Prince10 May 2010
  • 73.
  • 74. Haiti Earthquake Response
  • 75.
  • 76.
  • 77.
  • 78.
  • 79.
  • 80.
  • 81. Open Standards
    Sahana’s REST controller publishes all data:
    GeoRSS / RSS
    EDXL-HAVE (Hospital AVailability Exchange)
    PFIF (Person Finder Interchange Format)
  • 82. Google Person Finder
  • 83.
  • 84. PFIF
    Person Finder Interchange Format
    Supported by Google’s Person Finder Portal at: & widget
    Key to interoperability between systems such as HEPL and Google’s site
  • 85. FOSS Technology Partners
    HFOSS Project – Trinity College
    Open Street Maps
    FortiusOne / Geocommons
    Open Aerial Maps
    Crisis Mappers
    Crisis Commons
    Mindtel / Synergy Strike Force
    Open Solutions Group
  • 86. How can Sahana help you?
    Sahana provides
    a collaborative environment for sharing disaster-related data between organizations.
    a powerful integration platform to leverage and aggregate data from any open data source like Open Street Maps, social networking tools like Twitter, or from cellphones and smartphones.
    a transactional database driven solution for disaster data information management.
    situational awareness through its ability to geographically represent all available data.
  • 87. SahanaA Global Free and Open Source Project
    Freedom to use, analyze, modify and re-distribute
    Available for everybody at no cost
    Open for research and development
    Collaboratively developed by a Global community
    Mark Prutsalis, President & CEO
    Sahana Software Foundation
    @SahanaFOSS #Sahana