Norins ideas on Saving the world

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Noirin Shirley talked about some of the open source projects she has been involved in. After the 2004 Tsunami they turned to OSS for some software to help with Sahana, a disaster management system. She pointed out that within a week thousands of hours of FLOSS programming time put together the first release of Sahana, possibly not a feat that a commercial company could have achieved.

She defined Hmanitarian Asistance as the long term response to problem areas. Disaster Response as the immediate concerns after a disaster, and normally only lasts a few weeks later. Emergency management occurs over the time frame of several weeks.

She referred to the software, that was developed in response to the Kenya troubles after an election and violence broke out. But now it's used by lots of places, and was used for the Queensland flood crisis map by the ABC. People send in reports of problems (flooding, fires, violence, volunteers needed), and then volunteers work to verify the reports. ABC had already been experimenting with Ushahidi before the floods, on a site for feral animals. So they were well placed to use the same technology for the Queensland floods. 

Noirin talked about a talking book. In developing areas this is used to send information out to places that don't have an IT infrastructure. A order of 1000 costs $5k. Two books can be connected together to share the audio. It's all open source, uses a battery that is locally available. A test deployment showed in one study that crop yields by 48%, where-as people without the book suffered a 5% drop in crop yield. (In that case the information wasn't complicated, it was planting the crop in little hills, with a moat around each plant, to maximize the benefit of rain).

Noirin mentioned the apache httpd webserver. This software powers millions of websites around the world. This is an example of how open source is a common good. 

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This page contains a single entry by Geoff Crompton published on January 24, 2011 2:35 PM.

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