Center for Applied Systems & Software »

OSU Open Source Lab

CrisisCommons is pleased to announce partnership with OSU's Open Source Lab

by OSUOSL Admin on Wed, Dec 15 2010

CrisisCommons is a global network of volunteers who use creative problem solving and open technologies to help people and communities in times and places of crisis. CrisisCommons is pleased to join several other humanitarian free and open source software projects hosted by Oregon State University's Open Source Lab (OSL).

The CrisisCommons community creates “CrisisCamp” events where volunteers of all skill levels can work across borders, languages and timezones to collaborate on projects, translate languages, build open source technology tools, and aggregate data to provide support for crisis response efforts. During the worldwide response to the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, this community organized 63 events across 8 countries with over 2,300 people participating to support such projects as Person Finder, a searchable database of missing persons, and Tradui, the first Creole translation application. The OSL has been part of the CrisisCommons community from the beginning, through the CrisisCamp Portland (CrisisCampPDX) event on January 23, 2010.

Born from the adversity of the Haiti event, a grass roots CrisisCommons community emerged and grew throughout 2010. We supported technology work on crisis events throughout the year, including the Tennessee Floods, Gulf Oil Spill, and Pakistan Floods. We hosted the First International Crisis Congress in July, 2010, in Washington DC, which convened CrisisCamp city leads, experts in disaster management, and partners in the public and private sector together to outline our goals and agenda for the commons community. Our OSL partnership continued here too, as Deb Bryant, Public Sector Communities Manager for the OSL, was part of our Congress, and has been a key advisor to CrisisCommons ever since.

One key goal global of CrisisCommons is to develop a commons-based approach to crisis management and global development that spans public and private sectors, NGO/NPO's, and other Volunteer Technology Communities (VTCs). We seek to do this by leveraging, supporting, or building through an openness mele of open source, open data, and open standards, and by exploring a research-based agenda to technology applicability in a crisis.

Since the Congress, the community has been actively working on a foundation grant to continue its growth, and move beyond a grass-roots community. We are pleased to announce that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has awarded a two-year, $1.2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the development of CrisisCommons. CrisisCommons will be funded for 2 years under the Wilson center to continue our work.

A key step in this process is establishing a solid infrastructure to support our CrisisCommons community activities, hence why we are excited to expand our partnership formally with the OSL. We are delighted to be able to learn from experts in open source communities and provide scalable and reliable resources for CrisisCamp technology innovation and response efforts.

Our work with the OSL will focus on the following areas:

  • Hosting and support of core CrisisCommons services, including our websites, wikis, and other community and knowledge/training resources for commons/community steady-state operations
  • Establishing foundational model for Crisis/Disaster based lab and research based open source projects to support technology innovation in this space
  • Establishing a model for specific crisis/disaster response technology hosting that are needed in a disaster event (surge capacity model)

We are still new to this, and have so much to learn from the OSL and their wider partner community, but are excited to start our journey. We look forward to joining OSL and becoming a successful HFOSS project under their stewardship. One more forward step together toward lessoning human suffering in the world, and achieving opportunity for good through adversity.

Looking forward to the future,

Deborah Shaddon

CrisisCommons Infrastructure Working Group Lead

deborah at crisiscommons dot org