Zubin Wadia

CiviGuard founder Zubin Wadia discusses ‘Emergency Management 2.0’

CiviGuard founder Zubin Wadia discusses Crisis Management 2.0 and how his company is working to change communications during an emergency.


What is ‘Emergency Communication 2.0?’

In a nutshell, it’s near real-time location-aware communication between a citizen and its government during an emergency. EC 2.0 systems are an order of magnitude faster than SMS/Voice based solutions due to them leveraging the power of Internet-scale delivery platforms optimized for smartphones and connected devices. They are also extremely resilient, capable of delivering valuable information to the citizen even when networks fail completely. Lastly, they are social network aware, enabling citizens to assemble relief teams and share resources during times of adversity. Trust, timeliness and transparency are the three tenets of EC 2.0.

What is the problem with civilian emergency communication today?

Most offerings today are focused on mass notification over as many information channels as possible. While this successfully raises awareness about a situation, it also raises confusion amongst citizens. Additionally, these solutions don’t take a citizen’s location into account or have a way of additional messages as a situation changes. Lastly, they are all SMS or Voice based leading to multiple dependencies across the communication loop and not enough redundancy. Just take the Times Square bomb threat that occurred recently, instead of cops in the perimeter yelling at people to move out of the danger zone, we could have sent targeted updates to their smartphones creating a friction-free evacuation. We got lucky that day. If that device would have gone off, there would have been absolute chaos and that same evacuation process wouldn’t have worked.

How did CiviGuard form?

We were born out of Singularity University – a program sponsored by NASA and Google to cultivate future technology leaders. About 1,200 students applied for 40 slots in 2009. For our team projects at the end of the program we were given one mission: positively impact the lives of a billion people in a decade. Our team chose to tackle the area of disaster response and zeroed in on the area of emergency notification, crisis reporting and real-time communication. That set the mission for CiviGuard: to build leading-edge technology platforms for the protection of human life in times of crisis.

Why is optimizing for smartphones a viable strategy?

The Nielsen Company predicts smartphones to outnumber feature phones by the third quarter of 2011. That’s not accounting for millions of connected devices leveraging WiFi such as the iPod Touch. By the end of 2011 – we expect the US to have 200 million connected devices and smartphones operational. Additionally – the most populous cities in the US already have smartphone adoption rates that are far higher than the national average – San Francisco and New York City for example are greater than 60% already. For those who haven’t migrated to smartphones, SMS and voice will remain sub-optimal ways of receiving emergency communications.

Wadia interview at Where 2.0 2010

Where 2.0 presentation

10 entrepreneurs changing the way government works

I recently began reading The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good and felt compelled to highlight more people building business models around better government. The role of business and the entrepreneurial spirit as it relates to government is at times under-played or discredited (sometimes, rightfully so), but it’s the backbone of a democratic society.

Consider this the first in a series. For starters, here are 10 entrepreneurs changing the way government works:

Goldy Kamali

What we do:

FedScoop is a New Media and Events company serving key decision makers in the government IT community. We bring C-level executives from the federal government and IT community together via VIP events, video interviews and articles and blogs to collaborate, exchange best practices and identify ways to work together to solve common goals.

Richard White

What we do:

UserVoice helps all types of organizations involved in government reach out to their constituents. Here are a few examples:

Political Campaigns – Inform your platform; uncover grassroots interest.

Civic Engagement – Leveraging the wisdom of the crowd to improve government.

Internal Brainstorming – Tap the collective knowledge inside your organization to improve government.

Michael Riedijk

  • CEO, DotGov
  • Founded: November 2009
  • @dotgovcom
  • Open gov motto: Put your government in your pocket

What we do:

DotGov, Inc., is developing a mobile platform that will dramatically change how citizens interact with their local government. DotGov combines the power of Mobile Devices with Social Media and Open Data. It provides citizens with tools to directly interact with their city and benefit from all information and services local governments offer in an unprecedented way.

Conor White-Sullivan & Aaron Soules

  • CEO/Co-founder (left)/CTO/Co-founder (right), Localocracy
  • Founded: September 2008
  • @Localocracy
  • Open gov motto: All politics is Local

What we do:

Localocracy partners with local government and media to help citizens learn about local issues and influence their community. We confirm that participants are registered voters in the community and provide a space where they can ask questions, vote on issues, and rank the best reasons for supporting their side.

Kevin Merritt

What we do:

Socrata is a socially enriched data-sharing platform optimized for data comprehension by non-technically trained audiences, without excluding technical audiences. Socrata empowers organizations to transform their data assets into hubs for social and civic engagement and interaction, on their own websites and also in mainstream media websites and social media sites.

Ben Berkowitz

What we do:

SeeClickFix is an international tool enabled in 83 languages that allows citizens to report non-emergency issues such as potholes, graffiti or a littered parks to those accountable for the public space including local governments and community groups. SeeClickFix is available via the web where you can post issues and have your neighbors comment or vote on their resolution. Anybody can receive alerts via easy to create free-formed geographical alerting areas that we call watch areas. Also, If you have a blackberry, android or iPhone you can download our app and report a problem in your community with your gps location and a photo. 40% of the issues on SeeClickFix have already been fixed. From Argentina to Philadelphia citizens are using SeeClickFix to improve their communities.

Kurt Daradics

What we do:

FreedomSpeaks is a technology company focused on delivering interactive civic engagement platforms. Our mission is to transform civic engagement.

Our Core Values are shaping our culture and defining the character of our company, guiding how we behave and make decisions:

Stewardship: Building a heritage for future generations, acting with an owner mentality, and meeting our commitments to all internal and external stakeholders.
Best People: Attracting and developing the best talent for our business, stretching our people and developing a “can do” attitude.
Integrity: Inspiring trust by taking responsibility, acting ethically, and encouraging honest and open debate.

We deliver an interlocking product suite that includes:

  • FreedomSpeaks.com (The first non-partisan political social network & largest database of politicians)
  • FreedomSpeaks Pro (Lobby in a box SaaS product)
  • CitySourced (Mobile civic engagement platform)

Alan W. Silberberg

  • Co-Founder, You2Gov
  • Founded: April 2008
  • @You2Gov
  • Open gov motto: Don’t Be Afraid

What we do:

Path-breaking Gov 2.0 company that innovates and creates Government 2.0 + 3.0 Technology using custom Joomla based Social Networking/ SCRM and Advocacy. Consulting to Federal, State, Local Governments; International Corporations on: best media use; technology weaving to create maximum impact websites, tools, videos and conversations at highest strategic level.

Zubin Wadia

What we do:

CiviGuard is the world’s most advanced civilian emergency communications platform. It promotes contextual messaging over information saturation. CiviGuard is location-aware, smartphone optimized and cloud-based – making near real-time civilian outreach during a crisis, a reality.