Crossing the digital threshold together

By Lauren Woodman, CEOPeter Drucker, often called the father of modern business management, once noted “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”  It’s undoubtedly a good idea to be able to track progress against a goal. Without measurement, we’d often be lost. If we didn’t measure baskets made, how would we know whether … Continued

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The Vital Role of Telecommunications in an Emergency

Communications capacity and tools are the lifeline of any major emergency response effort such as the fight to combat the ongoing Ebola crisis in West Africa.  And quality information, made accessible to key decision makers, is paramount in enabling responders to make timely, informed decisions that save lives and ease human suffering.

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Civil drone helps NetHope Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines

In Tacloban, everything was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan: raised houses, destroyed bridges, blocked roads, disrupted communications; and tens of thousands of people were affected, and needed help.

The international rescue teams who arrived on the archipelago soon after the disaster struck were met with major logistical challenges, as they tried to access areas that had been isolated by the devastation. NGOs needed help that could fly.

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A Case for the Cloud in the Developing World

For many years, it was thought that cloud solutions were out of reach for those working in the developing world. Because many organizations lack the basic connectivity that users would need to access their applications and data, it seemed improbable that it would catch on quickly. However, I’ve been struck by how quickly various innovations are coming together simultaneously making cloud solutions well within reach – and highly desirable – for most organizations working in the developing world today. With today’s announcement from Microsoft that Office 365 for Nonprofits is now available to NGOs worldwide as a donation, it’s likely to become even more appealing.

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DadaabNet: Delivering Sustainable Internet to the World’s Largest Refugee Camp

Since July 2011, the worst drought and famine in East Africa in more than 60 years placed severe strain on the multitude of humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab, Kenya – the world’s largest refugee camp with a population exceeding 500,000 individuals. The unprecedented number of displaced people required a massive scale-up of operations by USAID-funded humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab. To meet mission goals and to save lives, significant improvements and increases in Internet connectivity were essential.

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The Need for Increased Collaboration

The world we live in is certainly not a perfect place. There are a number of things that need to be done to improve it. Sometimes governments set out on improving it, sometimes non-profit organizations set out on improving it and sometimes concerned citizens set out on improving it. Each of these stakeholders has their own vision of the problem at hand and ideas about how to solve them. That vision is very much dependent upon their own vision of life and what they feel confident in doing.
Lets take an example to clarify things. For anyone who has visited the slums of Africa, you are touched by the hard life of people living in dire poverty, lack access to clean water, education, shelter and livelihood. Yet you also see a magnitude of organizations trying to help. Even the government has their own programs trying to address some parts of the problem. You will see an organization focusing on educating the children. You will see another organization focusing on providing healthcare services. You will see yet another organization focusing on creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. Each one of those organizations provides a small piece in a big puzzle, which is to improve the life of slum dwellers.

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New High-Speed Network Connects Dadaab Aid Agencies For Collaboration

The worst drought and famine in more than 60 years has placed strain on humanitarian agencies working in Dadaab, Kenya and calls for better-coordinated relief efforts. The crisis has threatened the livelihood of 9.5 million people in the Horn of Africa since early 2011. Refugees from Somalia continue to arrive in Kenya by the tens of thousands, making the Dadaab complex now the world’s largest refugee camp ever with almost 500,000 counted and perhaps as many as 100,000 more unregistered. Responding aid organizations are stretched to their limits as they try and provide critical life-sustaining services such as food, housing, sanitation and medical relief to those in Dadaab. To make matters even more difficult, Somali-based terrorist organization al Shebaab recently escalated activities in and around the camps. Security has been heightened to ensure the safety of contractors, staff and refugees.
To answer the pressing challenges encountered by agencies working in the Dadaab camp, NetHope, Inveneo and Cisco came together to create a new collaboration network that enables humanitarian agencies to function better, to communicate better with other organizations and to better support operations.

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Sense and Sensibility: Technical Solutions and Humanitarian Practitioners

I have a confession to make… I will never be a techie. I will never be fascinated by how an appliance works, never be thrilled by opening something to see how it is wired, and never be carried away by software codes or new, integrated solutions.

I am fascinated by the art of information management though: how data is collected, collated, analysed and processed into information. When it comes to emergency response, we always endeavour to improve the quality of information to make more qualified decisions in disasters. In a rapidly changing emergency environment, information is rendered useless for decision-making if not disseminated at the right time to the right recipient in the right format.

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