Code for The Philippines: Help urgently needed

The Philippines after October 2009 typhoon. (Photo: <a href="">IFRC</a>)
The Philippines after October 2009 typhoon. (Photo: IFRC)

By now you’ve no doubt heard of the horrific consequences of super Typhoon Haiyan which has devastated the Philippines. In addition to an inconceivable death toll, thousands are displaced and without shelter.

Gia Banaag, from the Office of the President of the Philippines, and Kat Borlongan, the co-founder and CEO of Five by Five have joined forces to request a global effort from coders to create life-saving apps right now, today.

If you are a coder, a hacker or a project manager you can help make a difference from the comfort and luxury of your computer. I urge you to check this link to see what’s happening, read this PDF on the projectand to contact Kat (@katborlongan) or the resources listed on the site to volunteer your services.

Coding to make government better is fantastic. Using your skills to save lives is public service in its purest form. Here is ONE of the projects mentioned in the PDF that needs help:

Rescue coordination

This is a big issue with a lot of places that could be streamlined. What was done in the past online for rescue efforts is there were volunteers who manually monitored the hashtag #RescuePH and the latest updates sent on, for calls for rescue. Lists manually compiled to an .xls file from both these avenues is sent to us, and we forward them to point persons in the National Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

  • The lists are compiled manually, and in our experience are not checked for duplicate entries from previous lists, entries with inadequate information, entries with the same information. etc. Maybe a way to help automate cleaning up of data?
  • Those monitoring the hashtag also have a hard time because their feeds tend to be flooded with people reminding civilians to use the hashtags and other posts not actually calling for rescue.
  • There is currently no way (aside from checking manually) that reports of people who are safe already are marked and filtered out of being added to the lists multiple times. We’ve run into problems in the past of calls for rescue being retweeted many times even though they have already been reported, and there is also no way for NDRRMC to get back and mark items on the list as resolved.
  • Because the list is unfiltered it’s given to the National RRMC for notifying of Regional RRMCs, instead of directly to the regional offices, which would be more efficient.
  • Is there a way that calls for help could be mapped so that someone out on rescue could see the nearest calls for rescue near them?

About Nick Selby

Nick Selby is a Texas police officer, a government and law enforcement technology analyst, and CEO of StreetCred Software, Inc (a 2013 Code for America Accelerator company). StreetCred makes software that helps police agencies locate fugitives, get them out of the community and bring officers home safely. Nick is co-author of Blackhatonomics: An Inside Look at the Economics of Cyber Crime, and technical editor of Investigating Internet Crimes: An Introduction to Solving Crimes in Cyber Space.


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