This week I am visiting Silicon Valley for the first time. The reason behind my visit is that NetHope is holding its Member Summit here this week. For the last 6 weeks I have had the opportunity to work on an emergency preparedness project with this amazing organization. Ten years ago the IT directors of some of the largest NGOs came together to form NetHope. The purpose was to increase collaboration in the area of ICT. Now ten years later it has repeatedly proven its importance, most recently by providing shared internet connectivity to NGOs operating in Haiti following the devestating earthquake in January. Instead of every organization going in with its own connectivity solution a combined team from NetHope and its partner Inveneo quickly deployed to Haiti. There they made use of off the shelve components to put in place a point-to-point WiFi based network that covered the Port-au-Prince area and provided over 20 NGOs with connectivity. This level of collaboration is something that is unfortunately not too common in the humantiarian community.
As mentioned earlier then I have been working on an emergency preparedness project, looking at opportunities to build ICT capacity within the NetHope member organizations before disasters strike. This has been very interesting for me since I have had the opportunity to interact with both the IT and Emergency Response departs of some of the largest humanitarian NGOs. It has given me an insight into some of the key issues they face during emergency response and it has generated some ideas of how we can move forward in this space.
During the course of the project we identified 4 areas we want to focus on moving forward. These are emergency communications, emergency ICT capacity building, crisis information management and innovation in emergency ICT. I look forward to having some interesting discussions during the NetHope summit about these areas and will of course try to share some of those here on this blog.