D2.3 Community Based Evaluation

COMRADES (Collective Platform for Community Resilience and Social Innovation during Crises, www.comrades-project.eu) aims to empower communities with intelligent sociotechnical solutions to help them reconnect, respond to, and recover from crisis situations.

This deliverable presents the first evaluation of the COMRADES platform. It builds on the theoretical framework of resilience developed in D2.1, and the socio-technical community requirements described in D2.2. As such it uses both sets of requirements and combines them with theories on coordination in disaster management to evaluate the first built of the COMRADES platform.

The content of this deliverable is based on:

  1. Theoretical research on coordination in disaster management
  2. An internal evaluation and self-reporting on the ongoing developments within the COMRADES project.
  3. A series of online workshops and training sessions to evaluate the project in general and the platform in particular with key stakeholders of COMRADES.

This deliverable consists of three parts. In the first part of this deliverable we present the evaluation approach. Coordination theory is introduced as the theoretical background, focusing on building community resilience through improved coordination. This section also introduces the setup and design of the COMRADES evaluation sections along with the approach for the data collection and analysis. The following section introduces the actual planned evaluation sessions, including the practical organization and the attending participants. In the final section, we present the results and finding of the both the internal evaluation and the workshop sessions. We conclude by synthesizing the key findings and look forward to the next steps in the development of the COMRADES platform and project.

The first evaluation of the platform and project presented in this deliverable is centered around three main topics. The verification of the COMRADES objective and ambition (1), mainly focused around the COMRADES definition of resilience. We focus on not only verifying the motivation behind this definition, but also aim to assess the added value and potential impact (as described in D2.1). The requirements that are resulting from this definition and those that are further explored in the Nepal workshops (results in D2.2). We additionally explore important considerations for successful development and implementation of the project. Finally, we examine the current prototype platform and asses how the current functions and features contribute to the COMRADES objectives and address the requirements. We also examine what features and functions could be added to further improve the match between the project’s ambition and the ongoing and planned development.

These points have been discussed and explored with different groups in both off- and online focus group sessions. These sessions were conducted with members of the Digital Humanitarian Network, representing the COMRADES Volunteer & Technical community, and the professional responders affiliated to the Chinese Institute of Disaster prevention. These groups do not only complement our existing community interactions, which previously focused on reports and affected communities, but also increase the geographical and cultural coverage of the COMRADES project, adding to a more global perspective. The data collected from the sessions is completed with evaluation data from internal assessments. This self-reported information will help further verify the results and determine the path forward.

The results of the evaluation have been very positive. Although the platform is still in the early stages, and during the evaluations the platform prototype mainly served as an illustration of the COMRADES objective, the workshop participants have responded positively to the demonstrations and hands-on sessions. The platform also helped to demonstrate the project ambition and goals. Overall, the participants appreciated the workshops and were engaged throughout the session, actively providing input and feedback into the discussions. Participants have expressed their interest to stay involved in the COMRADES project and to stay up to date on further project developments.

The evaluation focused on the three topics mentioned above. First the verification of the COMRADES objective and ambition, along with the COMRADES definition of resilience. The participants underlined the importance of improved coordination between different stakeholders. Workshop participants also recognized that information exchange and situational awareness is an important prerequisite for an improved interaction between different stakeholders. Also, the importance of considering the role of the government (either local, regional, or national) is mentioned as an important consideration for the successful adoption of the COMRADES ideas. The participants emphasized however, that the COMRADES ambition builds on ongoing trends and developments in the humanitarian and crisis domain. These advantages include building on the local knowledge already existing in the community, and creating cooperation between different stakeholders. Finally, the increased demand for situational awareness and information for different stakeholders in a crisis response was mentioned as an important trend that COMRADES builds on.

Regarding the requirements, the workshops have shown that there are important elements that need to be considered in the development of the platform. These are in part technical requirements, ensuring that the platform and services can handle different contexts, ranging from dense urban environments, to more remote local communities. The differences will affect the technical requirements for the platform, but moreover the adoption of the platform in the local community context. For example, the alignment with the local organizational structure. It should also be noted that the information needs of communities and their members shift over time, from personal (in the early stages after a critical event) to more community focused perspectives (in the later stages). These findings align closely with the socio-technical requirements identified earlier in the COMRADES project (outlined D2.2).

Finally, the participants much appreciated the prototype platform. The interactive sessions gave the participants a guided, hands-on opportunity to use the platform and the integrated services. Using both real-world and fictional examples it was demonstrated how the platform could be configured and the services used to support information extraction. Participants did mention the importance of support and training when such a platform would be deployed, as not all communities will have the necessary knowledge and capabilities themselves. Finally, the integration of the platform in non-crisis situations (daily life) was mentioned as a key element for adoption. The participants however did see the potential of the platform and highlighted the added value of the automated services that support communities in managing, analyzing, and sharing the incoming information to a wide range of stakeholders.

Overall, the evaluation has shown that the current developments are in line with both the COMRADES objectives and ambition, and the expectations of the workshop participants. The COMRADES project itself, specifically the objective and ambition, are building on trends and developments in the humanitarian and crisis domain. Moreover, both the COMRADES project and platform already provide at this stage tangible results that further develop and advance the approach to community driven resilience building.

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