I’ve worked on international Disaster response in some big emergencies. I was the UN/International Logistics Coordinator for the 2004 Indian OceanTsunami response in Indonesia. Photo: BandaAceh 2005, after the Tsunami
Banda Aceh 2005, after the Tsunami
At Microsoft I’ve done some interesting deployments with the Humanitarian Systems and Disaster Response Teams including Afghanistan and support to the UN’s Cyclone Nargis response in Myanmar and the Mexican government H1N1 flu pandemic response . Photo: Above Kabul, Afghanistan. 2007.
Tuesday 12 Jan, 5pm or so: GDACSand the Tsunami alerting systems send me a SMS text message and email. Automatically give a sense of the likely impact based on various indicators.
Virtual OSOCC: where all the initial international response coordination happens. An 8year old ASP web notice board. Proof that it’s not about the tools, but about
Hitching a lift from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a 8 seater Caravan light aircraft, with all the seats ripped out so medical supplies could be loaded. Somehow I ended up carrying all of the UN Development Program’s emergency telcoms kit in with me.
Port-au-Prince airport. Usually they have 10 flights a day or so. Now running at a couple of hundred. With no warehouses to move the cargo to.
Getting transport was hard. Icelandic Search and Rescue team “hired” two trucks.
Search and Rescue at its best: Icelandic Team with someone they pulled out of a building. This was the largest international search and rescue effort ever: 125 live saves, with >1800 SAR team member from 52 teams
US VA 2 team marks on an apartment building.
South African SAR team digging after a sniffer dog confirmed a “hit”. No rescue or recovery was possible as the building was extremely dangerous.
SAR is critical, lifesaving and newsworthy. But at the same time there are hundreds of thousands of people who are at risk, and have basic humanitarian needs: clean water, food, sanitation and health services.In case water is available from community wells, but priced out of the reach of the poor and those displaced. Photo taken during a humanitarian needs assessment in central Haiti.
Again, food is available in many places, but inaccessible to most of the population.
US Military helicopter delivering UN World Food Programme food.
UN Humanitarian coordination: day 3. Shoe-horned into a corner courtyard of the UN Logistics Base.
The same scene 1 week later, with literally hundreds of people living and working in the same space.
UNDAC/UNOCHA/UN Cluster team meeting in the newly setup meeting tent.
Office tent. 6 to a desk and more. In this room were information management, assessment operations and analysis, situation reporting, security and a few other folks.
Satellite terminal: the GATR beachball VSAT. 2mb down/1 up.
2500 calories in a self-heating bag. People had to be reminded not to eat more than one a day.
Programming Trimble devices for assessments at 2am.
Humanitarian Needs Assessment. Most of it is on pen and paper, but we were testing the Trimbles for use later in the week on a broader and more rigorous assessment.
Groove is used by the UNDAC/OSOCC teams. We had to change it from a normal Groove Workspace, to a Groove folder share (easier workflow). Unfortunately Groove 14 is un-useable in these environments as some key features have been removed.
Gmail unified inbox for all information inputs and requests.
Maps – this one made in Rome by WFP
This one made in New York by UNOCHA. Data extracted mostly from Situation Reports. Very little structured data flow.
Search and Rescue planning map made onsite in a tent by the MapAction team.
Situation reports: collated in NY with inputs from Haiti and other agencies. The most thankless task in a response mission is writing the sitrep on the ground. It takes days/weeks before agencies/clusters provide structured input. Until then most of the info is gathered by attending meetings and taking notes and doing a debrief in person.
A physical meeting space is one of the most critical factors in coordination
Contact list maintenance should be able to be outsourced. But we still found ourselves typing names into a spreadsheet. After creating the spreadsheet, yet again.
Great content – but yet another map that can’t be printed black and white or photocopied.
OneResponse, a Microsoft developed platform for information sharing by the UN and NGO clusters. A custom Sharepoint solution.
Reception area and helpdesk – again, the physicality is critical. This space worked really well.
Helicopter courtesy of the US Puerto Rico National Guard.
Outside the meeting tent, watching the plume of smoke from a helicopter crash.
Nigel Snoad and Gisli Olafsson on the ground in Port au Prince, Haiti