Archive for October, 2013


# Superstorm Sandy is a scenario during which the social media, e.g., Twitter, has played an important role.

  • However, the communication links were not sufficient, even when available, at the times of disaster

# Communications in disasters: via the Communications Truck, which is reserved only for the officials not for the people

# Proposed solutions by the speakers:


# Community Recovery Center

– Installing VSATs for people in the same location

  • quick set up, inexpensive, supports WiFi networks, VoIP

– Form different lines:

  • In Sandy’s scenario, people waited in line for 45 min to make a phone call which has 40% drop rate

– Install WiFi & cell phone charging station

– Use iPad for forms to be completed for information collection, so that it can be passed along while people waiting in line for other services

– Mesh networks to be deployed in the Disaster Recovery center

– Example: Sandra response

  • Redhook showed how to run the Mesh
  • Hack DC: helped to build the mesh network so that everybody can communicate

# FEMA field innovation team contacts

  •  Sandy innovation team
  • Prezi: bl00@media.mit.edu
  • desireematel@gmail.com

# Q & A (partial)

  1. Status of community (DRC) disasters recovery center:
    • Think tank is organically developed, in conversation with gov’t periodically
    • Suggest government not to get into the way of DRC, only comes into picture when needed
  2. Robots:
  • Hackathon was organized to make people think they can contribute; amazing things can come out of them
  • Project Loon could be another option

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More than a year in the making – thanks to our dedicated volunteers Don McPhail, Jery Althaf and Aisha Yousuf – the GHTC Young Professionals Project Contest came to life! Our main idea was through this opportunity, to have young professionals from around the world had to work in a team on a solution for a real-life humanitarian problem. And the problem was “Rural District Health Office Data Connectivity and eHealth Record System”

A total of 5 teams entered the final stage and were invited to present their solution to judges at GHTC. While all teams understood very well the technical and financial challenges in establishing good data communications for healthcare professionals, the winning team pointed out “While technical obstacles exist to the successful implementation of this system, public outreach addressing social norms of patient responsibility is paramount to making this project sustainable.” and attempted to address both data connectivity between health centers and patient identification in their solution. The team brought up a key idea that a successful healthcare solution will always require participation of both healthcare practitioners and patients.

Below: Hassaan Idrees, representative of the winning team, received his certificate.

At the award ceremony, our guest of honour, Timothy Hsiao, from our sponsor US Agency for International Development (USAID), gave the keynote speech on “Open Source Development and New Opportunities for Humanitarian Technologies.” Timothy found the contest to be a very positive way to get young people involved in addressing real humanitarian issues. For GHTC, the support from USAID is simply a great gift. 

Below: Timothy Hsiao speaking about USAID

Most of us may know very little about what USAID truly does, so Timothy’s presence and presentation really opened our eyes. According to him, going foward, through an open source platform, USAID plans to focus on:
Delivering results on a meaningful scale through a strengthened USAID
Promoting sustainable development through high-impact partnerships
Identifying and scaling up innovative, breakthrough solutions to intractable development challenges

Particularly, the transformative power of science and technology will be used to deliver more effective, cost-efficient results in global development. Indeed money alone cannot solve humanitarian problems. Science and technology have the potential to help create feasible solutions and make the world a better place for everyone.

Overall, the Young Professionals Project Contest is a very successful pilot contest for GHTC 2013. Having Timothy to speak to us was a bonus. We hope this contest has inspired more young people to get involved in developing humanitarian technologies and get a better understanding of humanitarian work implementation.

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After almost 4 days of very busy time, we can sum up IEEE GHTC 2013 with the following statistics: 264 Attendees from 31 Countries, 27 Volunteers, 95 Technical Papers and 15 Posters presented, 14 Keynote Speakers, 4 invited papers presentation, 2 Tutorial Sessions, 5 Workshops, 2 Panel Sessions, 5 contests, 2 Global Humanitarian Awards, and 1 Great Conference.

GHTC 2014 will be again in the Bay Area, California USA. See you all again next year in person or online.

Over the next little while, we will continue update this blog with things we want to share but have not had the chance to write about during the conference that was so packed with information, new and old connections, and fun.

GHTC Mission Accomplished

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 Invited Paper from Serval Project , Humanity United

  • Collaborators: Romana Challans, Jeremy Lakeman, Andrew Bettison, Dione Gardner-Stephen, Matthew Lloyd (Serval Project Inc)


  • No infrastructure available in disasters for people living in the area
  • What can we do with the mobile phone, without going through infra-structure?

State of the art mobile device:

  • Two or three radios currently supported on the phone
  • Programmable mobile phones with downloadable Apps


– Main components:

  1. Mobile App running on the mobile phone (Android currently) that provides an UI for voice calls, SMS  etc.
  2. Mesh extender nodes with the following features:
  • WiFi radio interface (802.11g/n standard PHY & MAC layers)
  • UHF radio to support longer range, up to 128 kbps
  • USB port for charging


  • Work started in 2010 on a solution to be able to call each other without infrastructure
  • Some re-engineering to include security
  • No secure key exchanging with infrastructure needed => easier authentication
  • Android phones are used currently, because of Open source
  • Depending on the orientation of the phone, there can be a significant difference in signal strengths
  • Cannot rely on the cellular radio in the rural area
  • Connectivity depends on WiFi in ISM band
  • Peer-to-peer type of communication between the mesh extenders
  • non-standard mesh network standard
  • Longer range: use UHF radio ~3/4 to 1 mile
  • An Mesh extender can autonomously select the best wireless link,  and communicate with the same adjacent Mesh extender node, with different radio interface on the downlink & uplink
  • Power consumption ~ 2W
  • Transmit power: up to 1W

For further information:- http://servalpaul.blogspot.com

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Google Crisis Response

Google Crisis Response

Full prezi lives here.

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Lincoln Labs

Full prezi lives here.





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Mobile Apps from Red Cross Official Site

Red Cross app rate
Full prezi lives here!

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