Crisis Information Management:A PrimerSanjana HattotuwaTED FellowSenior Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation
sri lanka: complex political emergencypost-war, not post-conﬂict
sri lanka: sudden onset emergency 30,000+ dead in a couple of minutes
haiti: sudden onset emergency
points to ponder• Are new technologies and ICTs more helpful in dealing with sudden-onset natural disasters / acts of God as opposed to acts of men & women?• Why are you here? Is technology a standalone panacea or an enabler to thought-leaders?• In 1981, John Postel he formulated what’s known as Postel’s Law: “Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others.”• Is this a mantra for organisational change? Technology design? Technical architecture? Process?
what is social media?• Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many).• It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers. (Wikipedia)
what is new media?• New media is a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies.• New media is not television programs, feature ﬁlms, magazines, books, or paper-based publications. (Wikipedia)• But increasingly, old media is leveraging the web, Internet and mobiles in generating and disseminating news and information.
disaster is a growth industry
social media landscape in 2011
social media landscape today + plus.google.com
Social Media IM foundations• Blogs• Social networks (Twitter, Facebook)• Mobiles: SMS to social networking sites, mobile photography and video• Wired (ADSL) and wireless broadband (3G etc)• Greater access, also in vernacular• Lower transactional cost (cost per SMS, subscription for ADSL, cost per dongle, data subscriptions)
what’s new• Ubiquity of two way communications• Addressable peoples, even those who IDPs or refugees• Both news generation and dissemination leverages new media• Disintermediated models vs. traditional media model• Citizens as producers• Low resolution content broadcast on high deﬁnition media
new media based content generation• Glocal information – what is local anymore?• Information agents are rapid moving, transnational• A person in Boston can report on activities in Port au Prince who sources his information from someone in Les Cayes via SMS, who goes on to plot it on a map that helps someone from New York to deploy aid via a request made over the web to someone in Rome• Models of news gathering and trust are changing
old information modelEvent / Issue / Victim Policy making Journalist Mainstream media Consumer
new information models Event / Issue Consumer Citizen media / Victim Journalist Mainstream Consumer media Policy making
the revolution Firstresponders/ UN VictimClosed systems No agency First Victim /responders/ UN WitnessOpen systems Enhanced agency
the revolution Passive Media ConsumerInformation as a package Active / Reactive Consumer / Media Witness / ProducerInformation as a conversationKnowledge through curation
power of sms• “My name is Mohammed Sokor, writing to you from Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab. Dear Sir, there is an alarming issue here. People are given too few kilogrammes of food. You must help.”• Humble SMS text messages from refugees could become an effective SOS for millions whose voices are so rarely heard.
power of sms: post tsunami• The web is littered with examples on how SMS helped in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. • “Im standing on the Galle road in Aluthgama and looking at 5 ton trawlers tossed onto the road. Scary shit.” • “Found 5 of my friends, 2 dead. Of the 5, 4 are back in Colombo. The last one is stranded because of a broken bridge. Broken his leg. But hes alive.” • “Made contact. He got swept away but swam ashore. Said hes been burying people all day.” • “Just dragging them off the beach and digging holes with his hands.”
what is out there?
Leverage crowd mapsBounded, geo-fenced models help contextualise unbounded, larger inputs
crisis in darfur: using google earthhttp://www.ushmm.org/maps/projects/darfur
mainstream media: all use crowdsourced media
bombings in london• 7 July 2005• Within 24 hours, the BBC had received 1,000 stills and videos, 3,000 texts and 20,000 e-mails.
“saffron revolution” in myanmar, 2007• 100,000 people joined a Facebook group supporting the monks• No international TV crews allowed in the country• Mobile phone cameras were the ﬁrst footage of the monks protest• Blogs from Rangoon were the only sources of information• The junta shut down all Internet and mobile communications
burma vj: reporting from a closed country
the ‘green revolution’: post-election Iran, 2009
the ‘green revolution’: post-election Iran, 2009• Social media played three very important roles in the Iran situation: 1.It helped Iranians communicate with each other. 2.It helped Iranians communicate with the outside world. 3.It helped the rest of the world communicate with both Iranians and others who sympathize with the protesters.• YouTube and Flickr brought multimedia out of the distressed country. Twitter and Facebook updates have spread videos virally. Blogs, Wikipedia, and citizen journalism have helped disseminate and ﬁlter this information. Most of all though, these tools have helped people take action.
OCHA COD / FOD repositoryhttp://www.irinnews.org
humanitarian early warning servicehttp://www.hewsweb.org/home_page/default.asp
crisis information management wikishttp://wiki.ict4peace.org/Pakistan-Floods
mental health and psychosocial supporthttp://mhpss.net
haiti earthquake, january 2010http://haiti.ushahidi.com
google resource ﬁnderhttp://pakistan.resource-ﬁnder.appspot.com/?&lang=ur
google reader: a web based RSS reader
getting updates: google crisis responsehttp://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html
social networking: facebook600 million+ users
case study: mumbai bomb blasts November 2008
Flickr: ﬁrst images of the attackshttp://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/vinu/sets72157610144709049
Wikipedia: ﬁrst narratives of the attackshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/26_November_2008_Mumbai_attacks
Wikipedia: ﬁrst narratives of the attackshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/26_November_2008_Mumbai_attacks 400+ edits / updates 100+ authors Less than 24 hours after ﬁrst attack
Getting updates: twittering the attackshttp://spy.appspot.com
curated content akin to selecting the best produce
curating crowdsourced information• Buying fruits of vegetables • Curating crowdsourced information• Check price • Check authorship• Weigh it in one’s hands • Check for veracity, quality • Is it accurate, fair, topical?• Look at it from all angles • What is the bias? Is it progressive?• Look at it in context • Select a few from many sources• Look at a few, not just one • Discard if out-dated information is• Discard if old presented• Be suspicious if it looks too good • Be cautious of unveriﬁed information and breaking news• Ascertain location where it was produced • Is the producer local or foreign?
UN and crisismapping
awareness never 100% accurate, or complete Trust& Satis&icing* situational& awareness& Veri*iable&
what’s satisﬁcing?• Satisﬁcing, (satisfy with sufﬁce), is a decision-making strategy that attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than to identify an optimal solution.• A satisﬁcing strategy may often be (near) optimal if the costs of the decision- making process itself, such as the cost of obtaining complete information, are considered in the outcome calculus.• The word satisﬁce was coined by American political scientist Herbert Simon in 1956.
situational awareness today Traditional media Citizen journalism / Digital, web based media / Crowdsourced information Trusted intelligence from UN systemSituational Awareness / Response
some key differences between crisismapping andUN platformsUN CrisismappingAgency focused Crowd sourced informationInward looking Outward lookingGenerally veriﬁed Veriﬁability an option, not defaultUN Agency produced or trusted Designed for scalabilitysource Open source / Open data standardsInformation products range from Information products generally external,internal & conﬁdential to external declassiﬁedProprietary data formats and systems Potential of interoperability highLittle systemic interoperability Easier to learnHard to learn Wider ownership
crisismapping and UN: conﬂict or collaboration?UN IASC Common Operational Datasets Humanitarian)proﬁle) Popula0on)sta0s0cs) Administra0ve)boundaries) Populated)places) Transporta0on)network) Hydrology) Hypsography)
challenges• Concept of failing forward missing. Everyone parading what worked, but more imp to know - what failed, why?• Heard ﬁrst cursory mention of ethics amidst overwhelmingly technocratic perspectives. Good. Need to ﬂesh out.• No recognition of (geo) politics and US strategic interests in use & availability of tech. Compare Haiti, Pakistan & Myanmar in 08• A bigger disaster than Haiti, Pakistan had comparably little of this tech, volunteerism and focus. Why?
challenges• Surprisingly everyone seems to believe crowdsourcing is good, and is only used for good. Context, content, creator, consumer absent• At risk of sounding Rumsfeldian, why dont we know what we should know? Core datasets vital for community resilience and response• Trust is mutable, relative, contextual, locally deﬁned, gendered, framed by identity, inter alia.• Conﬂict is seen as negative. Conﬂict can also be progressive, creative, life giving process.
challenges• Impartial, accurate coverage still vital, increasingly hard to ascertain• Torrent of information. Trickle of knowledge.• Veracity hard to determine• Pace of technology development hard to keep pace with
enduring challenges with crisismapping andcrowdsourcing• Nature of violence, partisan bias, citizenship, governance structures, public institutions heavily inﬂuence crowdsourcing.• Crowdsourced HR or election violations mapping with volunteers from perpetrator party/tribe/ethnicity? Proceed with caution• Volunteerism undergirding stand-by crowdsourcing good, but what about CPEs, where personal bias can deeply inﬂuence curation?• Related to last tweet, volunteerism works better for sudden onset natural disasters, which are also mediagenic
how and who do we trust?abduction of a gay girl of damascus. or so we thought. http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com Jelena Lecic, of London Tom MacMaster, 40 year old American
A lesbian in DamascusAnd other tall tales Disinformation Misinformation Partial accounts Gaming the system Gender imbalance (e.g. rape reports in DRC) Lack of access leads to challenges in veriﬁcation Multiple retweets mistaken for authenticity Anonymity online (esp. post-Norwegian terrorist attack) Machine translation / Lack of translation Little or no direct access Trauma Anxiety Fear Persecution Network inﬁltration and disruption Trust perceptions and authority markers Bias in mainstream media Bias in citizen media
two key effects of information overload• Continuous partial attention, Linda Stone, Microsoft, 1997. With continuous partial attention we keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges.• The immediate altruistic response rapidly diminishes over time (Melissa Brown, associate director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, 2010) Our brains release congratulatory hits of dopamine when we engage in selﬂess behaviour — which we’re moved to do the instant we witness something awful.
two key effects of information overload
two key effects of information overload
The new violence Data loss is lives lost
organisational hr & ﬁnancial costs Skilled / Free Skilled / Paid IBM ManyEyes Ustream Flash based infoviz Google Moderator Timetoast Open Data statistics Wordpress VIP Bundlr Storify Curated Twitter Wordpress Wordle Google Maps Facebook Facebook Ads Flickr Pro Vimeo Google News Google Reader Flickr YouTube Easy / Free Easy / Paid