About me

Gisli Olafsson has been the Emergency Response Director of NetHope since November 2010. In his current role he is responsible for emergency preparedness and emergency response activities related to ICT within the NetHope member organizations.

Prior to that role he worked as a Disaster Management – Technical Advisor for Microsoft Corporation from September 2007 to October 2010. In that capacity, Gisli was responsible for providing guidance to international organizations, such as UN, IFRC, World Bank, Commonwealth, USAID and NATO, on the effective use of information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance response to natural disasters.

Gisli joined Microsoft as Lead Program Manager in the Microsoft SQL Server team in June 1998 after more than 15 years of successful experience as a software developer and program manager for companies such as Xerox, Medtronic and Nervus Systems. Gisli was part of the leadership team for the Icelandic subsidiary of Microsoft from its establishment in 2003, until he started his global Disaster Management Advisor role in 2007.

Gisli has over 17 years of experience in the field of disaster management and is an active member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, a team of experienced disaster managers which are on stand-by to deploy anywhere in the world on a 6 hour notice to coordinate the first response of the international community to disasters on behalf of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Gisli was also the team leader for Iceland‘s international Urban Search and Rescue team (ICE-SAR), which in 2009 achieved a classification as a medium USAR team by the UN. In January 2010 he lead the team to Haiti following the devastating earthquake there. Gisli has 13 years of experience as an incident commander and served as part of Iceland’s National Search and Rescue Command for years. Gisli was a lead member of King County’s Emergency Operation Centre’s Support team while living in Seattle and took part in coordinating over 100 disaster management and SAR incidents.

In recent years Gisli has participated in disaster field missions in connections with floods in Ghana (2007), Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (2008), Hurricane Ike in Texas (2008), Sichuan Earthquake (2008), Pandemic Outbreak (2009), West Sumatra Earthquake (2009), Haiti Earthquake (2010), Japan Earthquake/Tsunami (2011) and Horn of Africa Famine (2011).

Through the combination of his years of field experience in national and international disaster management with his deep knowledge of technology Gisli has a unique insight into how technology can be applied to solve some of the most challenging collaboration issues arising within the field of disaster response. As a result Gisli is frequently asked to provide training on ICT and information management to international organizations such as UN OCHA, European Civil Protection Mechanism (EU MIC) and International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent (IFRC).

Gisli holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and Chemistry from Copenhagen University (Denmark 1993). Gisli held a position as a lecturer at University of Reykjavik from 2001-2003, teaching third year computer science student´s about web services and service-orientated architecture. Gisli has been a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) since 2007.

Gisli currently lives in Seattle, WA along with his wife, 5 children and 1 dog.