Presentation to QCRI


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  • Hi All, many thanks for making the time. I’d like to use the next hour as an opportunity to collectively strategize about how QCRI can become a global leader in the computing for good space. To frame this strategy session, I want to begin by sharing a real life story from Haiti and one from Libya. These two stories will illustrate what the opportunities and challenges are from a computing perspective. Using these stories, I want to share three preliminary ideas for R&D and early prototyping at QCRI and then 3 potentially exciting partnerships we could nurture to become a global leader in the computing for good space.
  • On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. More than 100,000 were feared dead.
  • Within days, calls for help appeared all over Port-au-Prince. But humanitarians flying overhead could not see these individuals pleas.I had very close friends who were in Haiti at the time and I had no idea whether they were dead or alive. Only after midnight, some 10 hours later, did I finally get a reply via SMS that they had just narrowly escaped a collapsed building. But many, many others in Port au Prince were not as lucky.
  • So I launched a live map of the disaster. I used the Ushahidi platform, a free mapping technology from Africa. Ushahidi means witness in Swahili and the platform is basically a multi-media inbox connected to a live map. I went online and found a dozen people in Port au Prince tweeting live about the destruction they were witnessing. I added these tweets to the Ushahidi inbox and mapped them. I mapped the witnessing. Social media is the new nervous system of our planet and LIVE MAPS CAN CAPUTRE THE PULSE OF THE PLANET. and after a few days, I could no longer keep up with this pulse of information, the massive amount of content being generated on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and the mainstream media. I was doing my PhD at Tufts University at the time, so I emailed friends and classmates for help.and needs. So I mapped what they were seeing. I used the Ushahidi platform, a free and open source mapping technology made in Africa to map the tweets. Ushahidi means witness in Swahili. I mapped the witnessing. After a few days, I could no longer keep up with the massive amount of content being generated on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and the mainstream media. So I sent an email to my friends and classmates at Tufts University asking for help.
  • The following evening, a dozen friends showed up in my living room and stayed up with me all night mapping Haiti while the snow fell quietly outside. The next day, dozens more showed up, and even more the day after that. By the end of the week, over 100 friends and classmates had come through my living room to get trained on live mapping Haiti. Together, we monitored hundreds of social media and mainstream media sources online 24/7, mapping relevant updates as quickly as we could. This volunteer, Chrissy, was one of the friends who survived the Haiti earthquake. After she was evacuated, she too joined us in my living room to help map Haiti. Some of you have already met her this this week, she happens to be my fiancee.I’ve looked at this picture a hundred times but only yesterday did I realize the number of different nationalities represented: American, Iranian, Norwegian, British, French, Czech Republic. They stayed up all night with me, mapping while the snow fell quietly outside.
  • 10 days later, Now lets think about that for a moment, humanitarian professionals weren’t behind this map
  • Numbers, zoom in
  • Zoom in furtherThis was no ordinary map. This map was alive. Changing every few minutes. Living organism. So here we were, digital humanitarian volunteers in snowy Boston, using mapping technology from Africa, saving hundreds of lives in Haiti. Indeed, it turns out that a number of first responders, including the US Marine Corps, used the map to literally send out choppers for search & rescue and medical evacuation.LIVE MAPS CAPTURE PULSE OF PLANET and they can also save livesVolunteers in snowy Boston, some 1500 miles away from Haiti, using free mapping technology from Africa, to save hundreds of lives in Port au PrinceBetween them, these volunteers mapped over 3,500 individual reports from hundreds of sources and you can see just how densely populated the map was. Not only that, but the map was being updated every 10-15 minutes with dozens of new dots, this map was truly alive.
  • Facebook
  • The Standby Volunteer Task Force, a global network of 800+ volunteers from more than 80 countries around the world. These Mapsters, as they are called, have been trained in Digital Mapping Technologies to support humanitarian and development organizations. When there’s a problem, a major disaster, the UN and others call the Task Force for support. WHY? BECAUSE TO MAP THE WORLD IS TO CHANGE IT AND TO MAP THE WORLD LIVE IS TO CHANGE IT LIVEThey are truly the Jedis of mapping. And I bet you’re wondering, how do I become a Mapster Jedi?
  • Lets begin our first map on January 12th, 2010, at 4pm, to be exact. We turn on the TV and see this…
  • Numbers, zoom in
  • Proliferation of maps
  • To Map the World is to Change ItTo Map the World LIVE is to Change it Live
  • Presentation to QCRI

    2. 2. Devastating Earthquake #Haiti
    3. 3. SMS 4636
    4. 4. Humanitarian Crisis in #Libya
    5. 5. 850+ Mapstersin 80+ Countries www.CrisisMappers.net
    6. 6. AnalysisGeo-LocationHumanitarianMediaReportsSatelliteSMSTaskTechnologyTranslationVerification
    7. 7. OpportunitiesPartnerships
    8. 8. • Data mining• Data cleaning• Machine translation• Sentiment analysis• Crisis informatics• Quantifying veracity• Peer production
    9. 9. Peer Productionin Collaborative Platforms?
    10. 10. Quantifying Veracity?
    11. 11. OpportunitiesPartnerships
    12. 12. Taking the Pulse of the Planet forDevelopment and Disaster Response
    13. 13. Open Data = Closed DataWhen open datasets are not useable
    14. 14. Other Ideas?Computing for Good