The COMRADES team welcomes you to the 1st Issue of our Newsletter and introduces you to project’s latest developments.
COMRADES project at a glance:
The project was launched in January 2016 with a lifetime of 36 months and it is funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. It aims to create an open source, community resilience platform that will help citizens to get a consistent, coherent understanding of natural disaster events around them in real time.
In the current Issue of our Newsletter you can:
read our project’s News from its start until June 2016
be familiarized with the Usahidi platform which was the tech inspiration for
COMRADES project and be informed about the ways that communities can help in crisis mapping
find interesting articles that elaborate the potentials of social media in timely provision
of intelligence during natural disaster events through crowdsourcing
have a look at upcoming events and several publications that are related to the
thematic of the project!
Thank you for your time and enjoy reading, The COMRADES communication team
ISCRAM Community: How 'crisis mapping' is helping relief efforts in Nepal
On Saturday the 25th of April 2015, the Nepal Lamjung region was hit by an earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale. This was followed by more than 300 aftershocks
As a result, close to 9000 people died and a large number of public and private properties were severely damaged, rendering over half a million people homeless.
A few weeks later, on Tuesday the 12th of May, another major earthquake struck Nepal. This time, its epicenter lay near Mount Everest. Measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, this quake completely destroyed many of the buildings that had been damaged in April.
In the aftermath of the disaster, 34 countries came to assist the government of Nepal with search and rescue operations. A total of 60 countries offered Nepal relief aid and humanitarian assistance. The main challenge during this relief operation was to transport relief items to some of the worst hit villages in Nepal due to their remoteness, poor weather conditions, rugged terrain, and threat of landslides. As in previous large-scale disasters, the effectiveness of the response was affected by coordination challenges, logistical difficulties and lack of adequate ICT infrastructure.
A research team, joining efforts between computer scientists and social scientists, had travelled to Nepal in order to gain more insight into the complex on-site challenges faced by the various humanitarian actors responding to the crisis in Nepal and explored community disaster resilience. You can read about their findings by clicking here.
The devastating earthquake in Nepal left thousands of people in dire need for assistance even days after the initial aid began to arrive. What was needed and where it was needed was one of the greatest challenges during rescue missions. A group of Nepalis called Kathmandu Living Labs (KLL), backed by a global community, implemented a crisis mapping strategy which paved the way for similar missions. You can read all about their efforts in the full article of BBC News.
Communities in Charge
COMRADES is all about enabling communities to build resilience using advancements in information, data and telecommunication. Communities are at the center of the project: not only as the user of the project results, but also to provide direction, feedback and guidance during the project. COMRADES is “designed by communities, for communities”.
Over the past month the COMRADES team has reached out to dozens of communities across the globe. From local NGOs working in the mountains in Nepal to help communities recover from the devastating earthquake, to the grassroots initiatives in Nigeria raising Human rights awareness. From all these communities we have received valuable input on the challenges faced, critical success factors for project and -most importantly- future opportunities.
The interviews have emphasized the importance of embedding and connecting to the local community. Data collection and processing is part of the work, but sharing the information back to the community is crucial, this enables people to understand what is going, make decisions, and take action. The key is to create a continuous loop from collecting data, transforming it to information and enabling community action. This can be supported by ICT but also requires community commitment and involvement to be done in a sustainable way.
Ushahidi: changing the way information flows – tech inspiration for COMRADES
Ushahidi, which translates to “testimony” in Swahili, was developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election violence in 2008. Since then, thousands have used our crowdsourcing tools to raise their voice.
They are a technology leader in Africa, headquartered in Nairobi, with a global team reaching out to the wider world.
The COMRADES project is driving the design, development, and deployment of an open-source platform for collective resilience. Building on the award-winning Ushahidi crowdsourcing platform, COMRADES is identifying new features and functionality that will enable communities to rapidly build a coherent understanding of a situation and empower them to act.
The project is currently surveying a wide-range of communities around the globe and will conduct participatory design workshops and users testing to develop new approaches to validating crowd sourced information and improving detection of crisis events and matchmaking with the resources needed to meet them.
Kick off meeting in London on 13th - 14th of January, 2016
On 13th - 14th of January 2016, COMRADES project partners (iHub, University of Sheffield, University of Aigder, Gov2U) gathered during a kick-off meeting in London, hosted by the project coordinator The Open University.
The project partners shared their experiences and insights towards the main project goal: how to empower communities with intelligent socio-technical solutions to help them reconnect, respond to, and recover from crisis situations.
For more details about the Kick off Meeting in London, please click here..
Project meeting in Sheffield on 14th - 15th of June, 2016
The second project meeting was held from 14th to 15th of June 2016 at the Innovatory Diamond building of Sheffield University in UK, where partners gathered to share knowledge gained through the initial months of the project life.
The University of Agder presented deeper insight and fresh data acquired from engagement with communities aiming to explore resilience patterns.
Furthermore, a “hands on” training session on the existing Ushahidi platform presented by iHub, came as a valued experience in assisting COMRADES members during this meeting to map all the relevant factors required in applying innovation and technology for responding to communities in need of assistance during crises.
For more details about the second project meeting in Sheffield, please click here.
COMRADES website and social media accounts
The project’s website was created to inform the stakeholders on the latest developments in COMRADES project, its progress and generate interest of all the related communities with the exciting news in the research progress of the project.
Subscribe to the COMRADES newsletter and stay informed on the project’s latest developments!
Social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been created in order to enhance the project’s visibility, attract more followers and connections every day. Moreover, they can provide further engagement of users who are interested in the project and reach effectively the target groups
Choosing of relevant data-sets for scope of research in a project
COMRADES is surveying and assessing exiting ontological models for crisis data representation, to identify all required modifications and extensions to match the information needs of the project. More information will follow so please regularly visit our website.
Participation in workshop on Resilience - 1st of June in Delft, Netherlands
In the last decade, resilience has become a leading paradigm for thinking about risks and safety threats, ranging from climate change and natural hazards to threats related to economic crises, migration, and globalization. Resilience roughly refers to the capacity of a system to respond to and recover from threats and it is often thought to contribute to a better and safer society, as well as bring more justice to the society.
However, this claim is not uncontroversial. Some also argue that the resilience paradigm primarily benefits the people who are already quite well-off at the expense of disadvantaged groups. The focus in the ICT and Resilience at a Workshop organised by Delft University of Technology (NL) on the 1st of June in Delft, was on the relation between resilience, technology, and social justice. By bringing together different disciplines, it was debated how resilient infrastructures can contribute to social justice
Prof. Tina Comes from University of Agder (Norway), a partner and a community research leader in COMRADES project, took part at this workshop and read a presentation on “How can ICT and information systems contribute to resilience?”
Prof. Tina Comes shared that “Communities have been described to be at the heart of the preparedness for and the response to disasters. The increasing connectedness has made communities more vulnerable for their dependence on a complex network of critical infrastructures” and continued that “At the same time, this very connectedness has the potential to enable communities to self-organise, engage, and connect with other communities to improve their resilience.”
Participation in workshop on "Emotions, Metaphors, Ontology & Terminology during disasters"
The workshop was organised by the EU SLANDAIL project, whose goal is to ethically improve the use of social media in enhancing the response of disaster related agencies. In particular, the workshop focused on the tools and technologies for understanding communication on social media during emergencies, including analysis of terminology, development of ontologies and understanding emotions.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 687847