We feel that it may at times be a bit confusing for people to understand what the SBTF’s aims are and what we want to achieve. There are several misconceptions about what we do and who we are so we decided to write this blog post to clarify some issues.
1. The SBTF doesn’t aim to be a structured organization, it aims to be a framework or interface, whereby any active and forward looking initiative that extends its scope and capacity is welcomed. We aim to provide volunteers with hands-on training to engage in live crisis (and non crisis) mapping operations.
2. The Standby task Force was born as a network of volunteers that support existing response mechanisms. The Standby task Force is not independently deployed. We don’t decide autonomously to deploy or to engage in an emergency. We do so only if there is a response mechanism in place that requests formally our participation to support its in-country response.
3. The Standby Task Force is not a coordination tool or body for responders but rather a supporting mechanism for remote collection and processing of information. Other organizations and bodies deal with the coordination of the response–this is not something that volunteers handle but rather professionals in humanitarian response. We also don’t deploy teams to the field and have no intention to do this: working in emergency setting is rather something that we happily leave to professionals. As our byline states, we are an online volunteer community for live mapping.
4. The Standby Task Force is not a “for-free working arm of the UN”. OCHA is and will continue to be one of our good partners and an activator of the SBTF, but the SBTF is an independent network that decides on whether and how to engage according to the people / organization activating it and their ability to respond. We encourage any organization or network active in their own country that need any support in live mapping to contact us and ask to activate the Standby task Force. To this end, we can’t guarantee that we will activate every time someone asks us, but we will evaluate each request according to our activation criteria.
5. If you wish to request the support of the Standby task, then please look over our activation protocols. If you’d like to learn more about our work, we invite you to read through our blog and to get in touch. If you are an organization that uses volunteers and operates in the humanitarian, human rights and/or the development space, then feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to train Task Force volunteers so they can support you. We are always more than happy to have our volunteers trained on the use of new software or platforms, new operational systems and with new organizations. We have already reached out to Sahana and OpenStreetMap regarding training Task Force volunteers to use their platforms, and we’d be more than happy to expand the skills of volunteers to support more ICT mechanisms in response to needs and emergencies.
The SBTF is a network of volunteers. As such, we don’t receive funding, we are not paid and we don’t accept donations in money. If anyone wants to provide us with server space or developers, or applications or code, that would certainly be welcomed, but we are not an NGO, or an organization, we are a horizontal network of volunteers and as such we wish to remain for now.