New social media tools for emergency response

March 12, 2009

We spent yesterday together with the student group from Media Lab, University of Helsinki, with whom we are designing new social media prototypes for WHO’s Health Action in Crisies (HAC).   We’re now organized in 3 groups, each focusing on a different layer of emergency  communication. Group 1 is looking at enabling communication through ad-hoc networks, between people affected by disasters using only mobile devices, as well as sharing information gathered by this network to help field teams coordinate health action with local people, authorities and partners. Group 2 is seeking to develop a ‘tacit knowledge’ interface/tool for HAC to facilitate information capturing and transfer, this tool will help in learning from the vast experience of field/aid staff that often do not transfer their knowledge to paper/text.  Lastly, Group 3 aims to support HAC in aggregating and better representing information from different sources within and outside WHO, enabling audiences to easily access relevant data and learn about HAC’s work. This will include designing a tool that will allow WHO to easily create information templates (widgets) on crises that are interesting to explore and show the data in accessible way.  The group will use Gaza and Zimbabwe as case studies.  We’re really excited about this work, which will be finalized early May and exhibited at the World Health Assembly.  Developments can be followed on the project blog.