Reaching The Victims Of Disaster

I watched on TV, a congressman from Staten Island talk about the complex response to Hurricane Sandy–in particular, how people whose homes were flooded and were without power could not contact authorities for the help they desperately needed

Going on two weeks after the storm, the Congressman explained how engineers and architects were in turn going door to door to find out who needed help and what could be done–but this was slow and cumbersome. 

Today, I am reading in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (30 Oct. 2012) about an organization that “matches volunteers with people affected by disasters.”‘

Recovers.org does this by establishing local recovery sites for communities (e.g. townname.recover.org) on a subscription model.

By establishing recovery sites to manage relief efforts–without waiting for government or aid groups–recovers.org enables self-sufficiency for communities in the face of disaster.

Moreover, by working at the grassroots level and going straight to neighborhood organizations such as houses or worship or community centers to serve as site administrators–those who know their community and who needs help–Recovers aims to bypass the “redtape.”

The recovery sites they establish, include features for:

– Searchable volunteer database that matches skills of volunteers to needs in the community

– Disaster Dashboard that aids in information sharing between victims and responders

– Donation mechanism where 100% goes directly to the areas affected, rather than to a relief organization

Recovers is the brainchild of someone whose own home was destroyed in a tornado in 2011, and who understands the logistical chaos that can ensue without proper recovery coordination on the ground!

I like the idea of this community Recovery portal for coordinating relief efforts through volunteers and donations, and see this as complementary to the formal FEMA DisasterAssistance.gov site for applying for various forms of assistance and checking claims.

Still though, the fundamental problem exists when you have no power–you can’t logon to recover.org or disasterassistance.gov–you are still cut-off and in need of help. So it looks like we are back to the drawing board on this one again.

As a vision for the future, we need the ability to establish to remote wireless charging generally-speaking for all, but specifically for communities struck by disaster, so they can call out for help and we can actually hear them and provide a timely respond!  😉

>Web 2.0 and Enterprise Architecture

>Web 2.0─”a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis, and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users. The term gained currency following the first O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs.”

“Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. They can build on the interactive facilities of “Web 1.0” to provide “Network as platform” computing, allowing users to run software-applications entirely through a browser. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. These sites may have an “Architecture of participation” that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it. This stands in contrast to very old traditional websites, the sort which limited visitors to viewing and whose content only the site’s owner could modify. Web 2.0 sites often feature a rich, user-friendly interface based on Ajax, Flex or similar rich media. The sites may also have social-networking aspects.”

“The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, a founder and former CEO of Flock, calls Web 2.0 the “participatory Web” and regards the Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.” (Wikipedia, including Tim O’Reilly and Dion Hinchcliffe)

From a User-centric EA perspective, Web 2.0 has implications for all perspectives of the architecture:

  • Performance—enterprise’s results of operations will be enhanced by the ability to do more (in terms of automation, applications, and collaboration) over the web.
  • Business—they way organizations conduct their process and activities will be simpler and more collaborative through a more user-friendly web and participatory web (for example, many business are developing in-house blogs, wikis, and web portals, like SharePoint.).
  • Information—the web is transformed from a source of information to a mechanism for controlling, updating, and even analyzing information (for example, viewing financial information, updating account information, and running portfolio analysis tools).
  • Services—applications are available on demand on the web and are available as interoperable services rather than monolithic stovepipe systems (i.e. SOA); additionally, user can participate in the development of the applications themselves (for example, Linux).
  • Technology—while Web 2.0 itself is not based on new technologies, the new participatory uses of the web are spurring technology advances in accessing the web and its more profound social networking and collaborative capabilities (for example with mobile media devices such as PDAs and cell phones).
  • Security—with greater user participation on the web and the ability to control data and applications, there of course is greater security vulnerabilities (for example, identity theft).

Architects need to recognize and build the power of Web 2.0 and its participatory and collaboration capabilities into their target architectures and transition plans.