Médecins Sans Frontières UK and The British Red Cross (BRC) have activated the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN), with Standby Task Force (SBTF) as the coordinating body, to support information management during the ongoing Ebola crisis.
The request was made through the Digital Humanitarian Network to engage their member-organisations in this work. Several of these organisations have responded their willingness to support, among them ACAPS, MapAction and GISCorps. HOT OSM have been active for several months already, and will also support in this phase of the activation. SBTF are in direct contact with them having worked alongside them since mid August on phase 1. The work has been supported by the World Health Organisation and UNOCHA to name but a few.
In this deployment we are also working with trusted partners from various universities around the world.
Formal responders, NGOs and digital volunteers have joined up online during this crisis, sharing their ongoing tasks, information and collaborating to solve issues. Openness and data sharing have been boosted, and the development of the “Humanitarian Exchange Language” (a way of coding information to ease sharing and collaboration), have been put to good use. All information collected (that is not of a sensitive nature) will be published on UN OCHAs new platform for sharing of humanitarian data: https://data.hdx.rwlabs.org/
There are a significant number of people in the digital community engaged in the response to the Ebola outbreak. The SBTF are one of the few organizations working directly on data mining, and we have had many requests from responding agencies, researchers and NGOs wanting to use our data for wide-ranging and fundamental aspects of the response.
The task at hand is to collect relevant data on the health care facilities in the affected countries. This data has been accumulated by numerous responding agencies.
SBTF and partners are collating it all, removing the duplicates and finding missing data using a variety of sources. Thus ending up with the most comprehensive data source of all health facilities. Responders and agencies are then able to use this as a vital decision making tool.
One responder on the ground in Conakry tells us that she is able to cover the verification of about three clinics a day. Traffic jams and poor maps are serious obstacles for doing ground surveys. The information collected by the SBTF and DHN volunteers will be shared with the teams in place in the affected countries, to increase their understanding of the condition of the entire health system, and how it has been affected (either directly or indirectly) by the Ebola Outbreak.
Standby Task Force will continue to lead the coordination of this vital effort. With several organisations involved, it is a big challenge to make this run as smoothly as possible. We are currently a volunteer network, with no financial support whatsoever. That said, we have just become incorporated, to make it possible to run the organisation on a long term basis. Donations would be gratefully received during this time and for the long-term, please contact Jus or Per to discuss.
Jus & Per
Justine Mackinnon, President
Per Aarvik, Vice President