[HOT] Activation working group

tim timothieb at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 18:29:23 BST 2012

Hoping to join the call tomorrow - but have not be able to connect the
last two times I tried to get onto the #hot IRC channel for calls. It
just hangs.

Regardless here is some food for thought.

1. In our emergency response agency you could categorize our
activation / plan guidance into two groups: the first group guidance
is specifc to incidents of a certain type e.g. an earthquake
activation, a heat wave activation, a flood activation; the second
group is specific to operations / response needs e.g.debris clearance,
evacuation, food distribution - which could be triggered by a range of
different incidents and can be pulled off the shelf, mixed and matched
- a more modular approach.

2. You may have seen the message below from the crisis mappers list
already but thought I would attach it for anyone who didn't.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Crowley <bostoncello at gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Subject: [CrisisMappers] Disaster Songbook: coordinating the crowd
To: "crisismappers at googlegroups.com" <crisismappers at googlegroups.com>


As I awoke this morning to news that we might be replaying the Boxing
Day tsunami from 2004 all over again, I watched the actions across my
various email, skype, and twitter channels and got anxious. We have
made so much progress on technology and practice since 2004, and we
now have a community of dedicated and talented crisis mappers, and
yet, our coordination is still not where it could be.

I realized that I had no ability to predict who was awake and who was
working which issue. Did we need imagery; which areas of interest
(AOIs) and when would the next potential satellite pass be? Did we
need maps; how current are those areas in either Google MapMaker or
OpenStreetMap? Did we have a method of pulling in social media and
making sense of it; or would we wait for activation? Yes, had the
emergency unfolded differently, we would have got to these questions
eventually, but wouldn't it be great if questions like these--or
perhaps better ones--were deeply ingrained in all our heads, like a
musician know his or her scales?

For a while now, I have been thinking about bringing concepts from
jazz into humanitarian information management. As a classically
trained cellist, I had to relearn to think in this way, as my
experience has been very different. For thirty years, I was taught how
to realize "scores"--musical blueprints that specify in great detail
what each voice should be doing at any given moment in the music work.
That approach works when you have a full understanding of the universe
of possibilities--when the score is a completed architecture and just
needs to be "recreated." This is the approach of many disaster
management agencies. That said, with disasters, improvisation is
needed; we need to make the music as we go, and we cannot predict what
any given actor will need to do at any one time.

That said, however 'unspecified and unscoped' the response operation
may become does not necessarily mean we as crisis mappers need to be
'out of harmony or rhythm.' In jazz, there is a shared oral tradition
that everyone learns: a set of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms and a
morality around how to interact using those shared patterns in an
ensemble. Together, musicians with such a common understanding can
take even a fragment of a melody and create incredible structures that
they did not have planned out when they played the first note. What if
we had such a system for our crisis mapping work? What if we could
know who is doing what with which tool and community, and how it all
is weaving together into a (harmonious) whole, without over-specifying
who does what or recreating ossified bureaucracies that move slowly?

Yes, we are making progress towards this end with shared protocols,
trainings, and experiments. But we need to bring those efforts
together again. We need to develop the ingrained, practical knowledge
sometimes called metis.

I would like to advocate that we start work on such a song book, so
that the next major disaster, we all have a basic song list to play
off (with all the melodies, chords, and rhythms implied), and the
ability to predict what each other will be doing, even if only in
rough outlines. That way, we can improvise more effectively together.

Who wants to jam? We need to build some riffs.

John Crowley

Research Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and
Lead for the Camp Roberts Experiments @ NDU/STAR-TIDES

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google
Groups "CrisisMappers" group.
To post to this group, send email to crisismappers at googlegroups.com.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
crisismappers+unsubscribe at googlegroups.com.
For more options, visit this group at

More information about the HOT mailing list