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Unleash your civic hacking spirit to build tools and solutions for emergency preparedness and response. This includes developing tools for the community and government to collaborate on rebuilding after the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy so that small communities and cities start to think and act like - as well as build - the web.

There are a lot of tools out there for crisis response. Many need open versions, many need code contributions, and many simply don't work well. Some are amazing. A way to discover, propagate, contribute, and/or create tools and how-tos is needed.

Community Aid Badging

In crisis response, there is a distinct gap between exertion and understanding impact. The field is messy - the task a volunteer sets out to do is often not executed because it's already been taken care of, or people have moved, or something more pressing came up. What does matter is:

  • The affected population is aided
  • The volunteers know their efforts matter
  • Organizations have some semblance of impact factor evaluation (hopefully for self reflection, sharing, and refinement of process)

To address this, we are building a way for communities/affected populations to award badges to individual volunteers.

Hack Aid Visualisation: How would this work?

Popcorn Clip

Youtube Video


We've created collaboration spaces to document these ongoing efforts from Mozfest 2013:

Etherpads from Mozfest:



Visual Design



  • report for community : who helped, what they were awarded
  • report for organizations
  • report for volunteers : what communities you helped with

Pamphlet with Info for Groups

  • Group_ID for group
  • Description of why it's useful to do this: "Want to indicate if this was useful to you? Want to thank the person who wanted to help you? Here's how!"
  • Place to write in Individual_ID (s)

Splashpage for Project

Meta Data

Any media sent in with MMS


How many links exist for any Individual_ID?

  • Threshold for badge
  • Thresholds for additional badging


  • Send badge to volunteer, notify them of badge.
  • Send aggregate of efforts to each Individual_ID and Group_ID holder


Get people to start using this. Community involvement in non-disaster times? Queue for readiness in Mozilla community already using badges for next disaster time. Get in front of aid organizations for use.

How To

This is an Emergency Hack Lab workflow. It is a basic framework to help people give recognition via OpenBadges during times of emergency.

Key Steps

  • Identify a problem statement
  • Organize community and tasks (We have, We need)
  • Recruit and do application process with volunteers
  • Assign Task
  • Complete and verify task
  • Give Badge

Next Steps

  • Link Technology (SMS, Microtasking tool, Map/Data Viz component)
    • Examples of mobile and technology: FrontlineSMS, Swara (IVR), Tropo

User Stories

  • Neighborhood: Our neighborhood has a lot of different initiatives going on in it, from a bunch of different organizations. We're excited people want to help, and we'd like to be able to let them know what worked and what didn't, and have a celebration of the communal efforts that emerged from a terrible situation. Ideally, folk who helped right after a crisis will also want to come back for later rebuilding efforts, after most of the organizations and attention have moved on to other events. To do this, we include our group_IDa in our community response centers and sign posts. We even designed our own badge for the folk who helped out!
  • Organization X: I am a part of a response organization. We have several projects going in an area, and want credit for what we're up to. We include our group_IDb on pamphlets going out to our target area, and encourage people we interact with to propegate the meme. After a deployment, we celebrate our associated volunteers and the badges they obtained, and we create an overall impact sheet of participants and points of endorsement. We may even set up a mentorship program between people with advanced badges and those first joining our organization.
  • Resident: I live in a place that just got torn appart by some natural event or another (tho not the bad kerning that makes that look like "tom apart") (dear jetlag). The task of cleaning up and getting life back together seems insurmountable. Some of the volunteers in the area are pretty great, and I'd like to thank them, but I don't have the mental bandwidth to follow up with each of them (or remember exactly what each of them did). I did get this nifty pamphlet, tho, which includes information about the Organization X's initiative, and our neighborhood has one as well. When Volunteer A did some work which totally made my life suck less, I decided it was more for the neighborhood than the Organization's objectives, and so I texted in with "group_IDa VolunteerIDa <3!" Later, I get to see them, along with other people who helped, celebrated at the town hall. Something Volunteer_IDb did totally helped out group_IDb, so I sent in a similar text to verify that.
  • Volunteer for Organization X: I want to do good in the world, and I've signed up to Organization X because I like what they do, and how I work with them. While I see our project moving forward, I don't have a direct connection to the people we're helping. I'd like to know that the work I do is worthwhile, so I ask the people I interact with to text in if I've done a useful things, and write down my Volunteer_IDa for them. I still make personal connections, and am in direct contact with some folk - but I want my organization to know I'm going good work, too!
  • Volunteer at large: I came into the affected neighborhood because I have significant previous experience in response (check out all my badges!). I want to be sure I'm helping where it's needed, and so I ask people I interact with to ping the system. From that feedback, I can see that I did an awful lot of work around Organization X's objectives, and will reach out to them about working more closely in the future. Knowing that I did good work makes me want to go back and help more, too.

Prototype Badges

1. Badge Name: Helper

  • Description:
Hands shaking (UN OCHA)
Refugee registration (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Provides assistance and help to others

2. Badge Name: Documenter

  • Description:
Document file type (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Tweets (with geolocation) an incident or emergency to appropriate persons? (need right language here but e.g. FEMA, Red Cross, local aid, etc.)
- Takes 5 photos of a site pre-emergency and post-emergency and sends to local news/media outlets (it can be difficult for news/media to be at the scene)
- Helps people to document their devastation for FEMA, insurance, etc.

3. Badge Name: Fund-finder

  • Description:
Can with $ sign
  • Criteria:
- Locates or generates money to fund efforts
- Creates a project or help others with an existing one and use Fundly or another web-based fundraising campaign tool
- Produces a sports/game day fundraising event

4. Badge: DeMucking

  • Description:
Debris Management (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Removes debris from a house effected by the disaster (de-mucked)

5. Badge Name: Wayfinder

  • Description:
Map Marker (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Helps direct volunteers or non locals around the community
- Helps loved ones find each other
- Makes community signs and/or flyers

6. Badge Name: Donor

  • Description:
Financing (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Supplies volunteers and those in need with food, clothing, supplies or water

7. Badge Name: News-maker

  • Description:
Radio (UN OCHA)
  • Criteria:
- Finds or creates news worthy stories and connects with the media to raise awareness, potentially acting as spokeperson for the community.

Parked ideas

Further Information

Here is a short but by no means complete list of some of the organisations, projects and other stories and literature to dig into on this.

Other Useful Projects

Stories and Blogs

Hubs For Action

Here are some of the institutions, partnerships and hubs where work on disaster releif and recovery is channeled, discussed and coordinated. These are both hubs that exist online and formal centers for action.

On The Web

UN Agencies, NGO's and Global Partnerships

Case Studies and Research

Here are case studies and insights from different recent disasters through the work of diverse groups in different situtations.

Specific Case Studies

- Crowdmap's work in Disasters

- The Critical Role of Telecentres and Libraries During Disasters in Chile

- Wireless and Open Tech Mesh Networks:

- Flooding in Thailand and the Role of Tech Centers and Telecenters:

- Fukashima Disaster in Japan

- Disasters in the US and the role of libraries


Centre For Disaster Philathropy


FEMA Case Studies Textbook

Survival Manuals when SHTF