World Champion boxer Manny Pacquiao is a living icon in the Philippines, his legendary battles are well known and brought him considerable fame. This fame and recognition is being used by the Philippine government (through Project NOAH) to save lives and minimize losses from disasters—where an infographic gradient links flood depth to Pacquiao’s famous height. In other words, to encourage adoption of early warning advisories and make flood hazard projections more interesting, yellow colors on interactive flood hazard maps equate to flood levels up to Pacquiao’s knees, while a dangerous, bright red color corresponds to high flood levels that are taller than Pacquiao himself.
Disaster management 2.0: scalable human connections fired by high technology
Scalability, virtual communities and Web 2.0 have changed the world of disaster response. The most successful and disruptive inventions of modern times owe much of their success to scalability. Although people always had the ability to read books, it was only with the invention of the printing press that it became possible for millions of people to do so. Web 2.0 and social media make the ability to connect with people scalable. Scalable human connections combined with open source software and platforms, and unprecedented computing power, results in human-machine synergy also being scaled up. This human-machine synergy results in disruptive technology innovations. Such disruptive innovations have most recently been seen in the area of humanitarian support to disaster and conflict affected countries. USB drives were an innovation that disrupted the market for floppy disks. Although they are not likely to go the way of the floppy disk, the world of traditional disaster relief organizations with proprietary systems, closed data sets and bureaucracy have been up-ended by the disruptive human-machine synergies of Web 2.0 and crowd-sourced humanitarian volunteer organizations.
"Erica Hagen in her piece in Development Outreach talks of the map Kibera effort being a ' first step toward local ownership and creation of shared information.' And in that comment I feel she has hit the nail on the head.'
As an investor, you throw in the previously quite entrenched Africa perception gap and you have a very interesting situation. I would describe the situation as a potential laboratory for innovation. An incredibly youthful skew to the population (60% of Kenyans are under the age of 24) surely is also an accelerator. And hence my desire and interest of late to get on the ground, pound the pavement and see if this has actually been a catalyst for innovation.
Why can’t international donors and project managers think more in terms of the geography and location of their programs? Last week the Aiddata conference in Oxford discussed new approaches to enhance aid transparency and donor coordination. Key issues many panelists discussed were:
- To what extent aid flows are responsive to local needs?
- How to enhance the social accountability of development aid?
- How to improve the impact of aid on improving the well-being of poor communities?