Helping People Help Themsleves

May 11, 2009

M4ID has been leading a Helsinki University of Art and Design and WHO project seeking to design social media concepts for WHO ‘s emergency response.  The results were presented last week, including  a solution for people to communicate in disaster situations. This project is based around the concept of a low-tech tool kit that operates on any mobile service using text message (SMS).

This simple service enables people to communicate, co-ordinate and distribute information and skills in the critical first hours and days, whilst waiting for help from authorities and emergency agencies. Through the tool, people can send a SMS message to a set service number, from which they receive SMS messages back with questions to evaluate the situation whilst providing helpful information and instructions.  The tool can be used in any disaster situation (by changing disaster/response templates) and can be localized to any country context.

The project was inspired by ad-hoc communication and citizen journalism that took place during the South-East Asian Tsunami, 2004.

A more detailed explanation of how the SMS service will work can be found here and the prototype will be released on May 20th.

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