Emergency Response Network
- Hello from San Diego, California, where I will be until Friday, when I fly
At the Rising Voices wiki,
I submitted my proposal for $3,000 for an Emergency Response Network.
I'm very excited to see great proposals from our lab's participants Fred
Kayiwa ("One Reaching Another Through Talent Identification"), Dennis
Kimambo ("REPACTED: Youth Media Consultative Forum"), and Stefania
Strega-Scoz & Lucas Gonzalez ("Chaordic Permaculture Institute"). We also
have our earlier proposal ("Marginal Internet Access") which I should have
reworked with Sasha Mrkailo and Zenonas Anusauskas to focus more
specifically on their activities.
Today I was particularly inspired by Stella and Lucas's proposal to fund
travel for face-to-face organizers to social network with Permaculture
"investigators". I'm delighted to see our lab's approach take hold in the
larger world! We're not alone! and thank you for your kind words!
I also liked the way that they have structured their budget so that it can
be expanded or contracted. Similarly, I calculated that we could organize
each local meeting of our Emergency Response Network for $50 locally and
$50 globally, which is $100 total. Therefore I asked for only $3,000
because they are looking for smaller projects and even one meeting a month
would allow us to sustain this effort over two years even as I look for
larger projects that might build on that.
I include below my proposal. I appreciate our thoughts on who else might
be interested in this approach? What business opportunities do we see?
How could we improve this? Thank you to David Sasaki for very kind words
(which I add at the end), and to Janet Feldman for always positive input
that helps me work! and to Mark Beam for insightful thinking about asking
simple questions. And all of our great participants Tom Ochuka, Josephat
Ndibalema, William Wambura, Sasha Mrkailo, Maria Agnese Giraudo, Fred
Kayiwa who helped at our chat:
Marcin, Brittany, Roni, Jeff, Thank you for a great stay at your Open
Source Ecology farm in Missouri and your wonderful posts.
Emergency Response Network
Why are you seeking Rising Voices funding? How will your project benefit
the community you are targeting? (100 words)
Independent thinkers share a concern to think ahead and prepare for local
and global catastrophes (pandemics, natural disasters, ethnic strife,
economic disruptions). We should practice engaging others to discuss
fearful issues and take action as volunteers and local leaders.
Minciu Sodas organizes global teams of hundreds of self-directed
participants, each with their own projects. We are strong in East Africa.
We wish to demonstrate the viability of an Emergency Response Network
using local meetings, SMS text messages and web feedback as a
cost-effective way of identifying local concerns, fostering local leaders
and sharing global resources.
What kinds of news, stories, information and other content will your
project provide? Describe your vision for the content. (250 words)
Each local group will, on average, organize five meetings. Each meeting
will be devoted to a particular emergency.
Content created will include:
In English, discussion and analysis of the potential emergency and how
best to respond to it:
* A transcript of an online chat meeting (as here).
* Correspondence at discussion groups (as here).
* A wiki page (as here) with basic facts that can be translated into local
* Five relevant test questions that are multiple choice or have
straightforward answers, such as What did you last eat? What is your
temperature? How many meters away should you stand from a person who has
the flu (1, 2, 5 or 10?)
* Translations of the aggregate answers.
* A short summary of the local meeting.
* Additional information that would help people get global response to
their values, questions, endeavors.
* A summary of global response that can be shared at the next local meeting.
In the local language:
* A wiki page about how to respond to the emergency.
* A Wikipedia page drawing on that page.
* A post at a blog, discussion group and/or wiki with a report on the
* Five test questions.
* A list of phone numbers maintained by the organization.
* A list of aggregated answers to the survey questions.
* An interview with a local official about what to do in the event of the
* Answers that individuals would like to share about their values,
Also: Photographs, audio and video where possible.
All content generated will be in the Public Domain.
Who will generate the content? Who is the target audience? How, and how
often, will it be distributed? What language(s) will it be available in?
The content will be generated by local groups in East Africa along with
their global supporters online. In each case, our goal is to support an
independent thinker who is also a leader of a local group. We support
them so they might motivate their group to prepare for an emergency and be
able to respond decisively. They will reach out to their local community
and link it to the global Internet community.
Each local leader will take responsibility to organize five local
meetings, each dedicated to a possible emergency that concerns them. They
will be responsible to get help to create all of the content.
Each local leader will mentor a group of assistants who will do research,
write reports, post content at blogs, wikis, discussion groups.
The local leader will organize the group members to send SMS invitations
to their acquaintances. Each invitation will ask for an answer Will you
attend the meeting? along with an answer to a test question (typically
from the last meeting). This will encourage a distributed network for
asking questions and collecting answers. Answers will be brought to the
next meeting and recorded. Those who attend the meeting will be asked to
be included in the phone list and they will get a short list of people in
the network to send SMS to, and they may also invite strangers.
See Sustainablity for leaders of local groups active who are active at
Minciu Sodas and who we will draw on for our local Emergency Response
They will work primarily in their local languages (Kiswahili, Lou,...) and
translate the meeting summaries, survey questions and answers, and basic
information into English.
What kinds of participation and interaction do you expect from the
readers/listeners/viewers of your content? How will you encourage
participation? (75 words)
For local participation, see above. Each local leader leads or will lead
a blog or discussion group for sharing news from their organization.
Globally, our online assistants will help circulate content through our
discussion groups and our wiki so as to encourage response to particular
wishes expressed in the microcontent. Our online assistants will approach
volunteers such as Lucas Gonzalez who have provided outstanding expertises
in various disciplines such as Flu Pandemic.
What is your knowledge of your target community? Why are you the best
individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience
in citizen media outreach? (100 words)
We attract strong individuals who overcome barriers of language and
marginal Internet access to participate at our global Minciu Sodas
laboratory. We focus on What is your deepest value in life that includes
all of your other values? What is a question that you don't know the
answer to, but wish to answer? What would you like to achieve? Such
questions make our motivation transparent and help us focus on getting
things done. We are experienced at helping African independent thinkers
engage the world with chat, wikis, emails and video.
Describe what technologies and tools your project will use to produce the
content. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the
project? What are your technical needs? (100 words)
See also Online Tools
We will make extensive use of mobile phones sending SMS messages locally.
We are also using SMS globally (especially between Africa and Italy).
We will use Perl, PHP, Python and/or MySQL to create a web application for
entering the microcontent associated with a meeting and creating an XML
format from that which leaders may post or send and can be found and read.
We could use help making the XML available for other projects.
How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact – on your main
participants? other contributors? on the larger community? How many
participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you
seek and sustain their involvement? (200 words)
Success indicators will include:
* Meeting attendance. We would like each meeting to attract at least 50
* Telephone lists. We would like each local group to have a list of at
least 50 people with cell phones.
* Response rates for the SMS.
* Quality of data and answers.
* Global response.
* Any projects started that link the local group with the online world and
the local community.
* Awareness in the local media.
* Reuse of the materials created for each emergency.
* Use by researchers of answers collected.
What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome
them? (200 words)
The greatest challenge will be the local group's ability to reach out and
attract wider interest from the local community. The local leader will
need to be able to motivate their local group and make excellent use of
the attendance rewards but also choose an emergency of real interest and
frame it well. We're greatly encouraged by our laboratory's participants'
leadership skills locally.
Another challenge will be phrasing good survey questions to get meaningful
We also hope to make the questions-answers fun, as if a game or challenge.
The meetings should also have an element of fun.
Another challenge will be training online assistants so that they are
helpful (although we have had good success with Sasha Mrkailo!)
How do you plan to sustain your project's content after the Rising Voices
funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue
to continue your efforts in the future? (300 words)
We are demonstrating that our global network is able to organize large
amounts of people with small amounts of money. For example, we might be
able to organize 1,000,000 people for $1,000,000. Therefore this pilot
project will give us the results and recognition to allow us to work for
large organizations such as perhaps the World Health Organization, the
Red Cross or Doctors without Borders.
We have assembled an outstanding group of local leaders:
* Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Uyoga youth association led by Josephat
Ndibalema and also William Wambura, Helen Mahoo, and many others.
* Rusinga Island and Mbita Point, rural Kenya near Lake Victoria: Samwel
Kongere leads an ICT center training 3,000 women.
* Kisumu, Kenya: Tom Ochuka of Deaf Impact trains the deaf.
* Nairobi, Kenya: Kennedy Owino of Nafsi Afrika Acrobats mentors street
* Kampala, Uganda: Fred Kayiwa coaches youth soccer.
* Kenya: David Mutua of Teachers Talking trains ICT teachers.
* Kenya: Dennis Kimambo organizes community theater for AIDS education.
* Nyando district, Kenya: Ronald Otieno Omondi leads the CBO Nyando
District Youth Initiative.
* Cameroon: Wendi Loshe Bernadette leads the women's organization Actwid
They have benefited from their online participation at Minciu Sodas with
paid work, help with grants, contacts, video cameras, digital cameras, air
fare and more.
This project will greatly strengthen our networks and help our local
groups connect with the local community. This activity opens up new
resources for our local groups. We can then pursue work in emergency
preparedness on larger projects that leverage our global network.
What resources and support can Rising Voices provide to your project to
ensure its success? (200 words)
We would like to find additional funding partners such as google.org that
are interested in emergency preparedness. And also partners to make good
use of the answers that we will be collecting.
We ask for help to make the answers we collect available to others who
might make good use of it, such as agencies for emergency response that
might make good use of an XML format with the answers.
We ask for help to introduce us to various domain experts.
We are interested to include other groups at Rising Voices and elsewhere
that would like to participate at our Minciu Sodas laboratory and
strengthen our network and our commons.
We are especially interested to include those who do not win funding from
What online tools and software programs do you plan on using? What
experience do you have with these tools? (200 words)
We are using:
* the ARSC online chat (here)
* Yahoo groups which we aggregate at our Minciu Sodas website using RSS
* ProWiki (here) which includes metadata capabilities that we use for
Endeavors (although we may migrate)
* some of our participants use WordPress blogs and FaceBook pages
We will also create web functionality to upload and show the microcontent
(questions, answers, attendance, messages) for each meeting. We can also
create a page for generating an XML format for the meeting's information.
We will also contribute to Wikipedia (as in Kiswahili).
Detail a specific budget of up to $5,000 for two years of operating costs.
Applicants are encouraged to submit budgets for less than the maximum
$5,000 as smaller grants allow us to fund more projects. Hosting fees and
curriculum resources will be provided by Rising Voices and therefore need
not be included as budget expenses. Potential costs might include
hardware, internet access, workshop costs, translation, travel, and
Description of Expenses Units/Months Unit Amount Amount
Local organizer 30 meetings 25$ 750$
Attendance rewards 30 meetings 25$ 750$
Online support 30 meetings $50 1500$
Total Amount: $3,000
* We will space the total number of meetings out over two years.
* We are asking support to organize at least one meeting per month.
* Generally, a group will organize one meeting every three months.
* We can organize for $100 as many meetings as we might get funding for.
* Please adjust the total funding of our proposal as best suits you!
* We will be flexible and slowly select local leaders as their interest
* We will allow our local leaders to decide (with our approval) the
attendance rewards that make sense for their community. These may include
rewards for the entire group, rewards for those who invite the most
people, or rewards based on lotterry. The rewards might be, for example,
USB flash drives, a community theater event or a performance by acrobats.
* We will experiment with the reward system to discover how tightly we
should link it to actual attendance.
* We will generally avoid sending cash and will instead send, for example,
USB flash drives for the amount budgeted.
* The online support includes payment to our online assistants (such as
Sasha Mrkailo) who will help with our online chats, online research,
posting and circulating content and fostering online response.
* The online support may also include payment to software developers (such
as Andrius Kulikauskas) for creating web functionality as needed.
* We will try to use these funds as co-financing for related projects.
David Sasaki: Andrius, given that mobile phone service providers have yet
to establish emergency SMS notification systems, I think that your idea of
community-based warning systems is an innovative solution that shows the
power of communication in saving lives. However, it is key to your
proposal that you offer specific details about which church or
organization you'll be partnering with and also that you sketch a rough
timeline of the activities of your project. It's also important that we're
clear about the technical capabilities of the mobile phones and mobile
phone networks in the region you choose. For example, are you sure that a
single SMS message can be sent out to 100 recipients? Also, what are
examples of "emergencies' that would warrant SMS notification? Citizen
media is a two-way conversation and so I like the idea of the participants
responding with answers to select questions. But how will you turn these
150-character messages into some type of meaningful discussion? How would
the text messages be published to the internet and what value would they
provide both the senders and the readers of the messages? Your idea is
extremely innovative as it brings citizen media to communities where
internet access may not even exist, but I would like to see more details
about how a batch of 50-100 text messages could then be published online
and presented in a meaningful way on the Rising Voices website. Also, are
there ways in which readers' comments might be relayed to the original
senders of the messages? Or is there even value in that exchange?
David Sasaki: Andrius, you have established an impressive network of
online and offline activists across the world, especially in East Africa
and Eastern Europe. I am personally grateful for all the introductions
you've made to me over the past few months. Minciu Sodas laboratory has
been great at networking and supporting 'independent thinkers', but your
Rising Voices proposal should be focused on one very specific project.
This proposal seems much more like an overview of all that Minciu Sodas
has been able to accomplish rather than a focused proposal detailing one
specific initiative. For example, you could rework this proposal around
your idea of distributing affordable video cameras to participants in
Africa and having them send their digital video tapes and/or memory sticks
to Eastern Europe, India, or Mexico for editing. But I would ask that you
are very specific about how you would arrange such an initiative and what
its ultimate goals would be.