Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Community Aid Badging

The Emergency Hack Lab sessions at Mozfest and the "virtual hackathon" that developed globally online - had over two dozen passionate geeks, civilians and design types crafting solutions to support community response efforts during times of crisis.

First we tried to make an emergency hack lab kit - a toolkit that people in a crisis situation could use to bootstrap their community efforts. However, after reviewing all of the great materials and content that already exist in the world, we focused on identifying gaps.

This is the gap and problem that we identified (as told by Willow Brugh from Geeks Without Bounds): 

During times of crisis, such as the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, relief work can be really complicated - even if people are really well intentioned. One of the hugest problems that I encountered with Rockaway Help was a lack of a feedback loop between us (the grassroots organizers), the individuals in need and the volunteers. This is crucial for many reasons but to name a few : efficiency with task management, ability to acknowledge volunteer skillsets, the ability to match volunteers with appropriate tasks, and the ability to identify mentorship opportunities.

By connecting volunteers directly to members of affected population through Open Badges, we empower people who need help to engage in the relief effort, and maintain involvement before and after they have received aid. There are many reasons why this is valuable, including:
  • acknowledgement, verification of a task in a moment of crisis for the relief organization
  • acknowledgement that you have helped someone
  • the potential ability to self assign tasks based on skills
  • the ability to ask for mentorship based on expertise validated through badges
  • the ability to see your impact on a community in need
The solution that we are developing is platform independent and open-source. Additionally, we are essentially designing a service that can be built directly into other successful tools that already exist out in the world.

So - what's next? We are deep in the weeds of figuring out how to make this real (and would love feedback and help!)  We know that we need to define the badge design experience using a badge building tool that combines the wonderful open source UN OCHA icons with meta data definition. In order to do this we will need to continue to develop out the badges and the badge systems that we hope to align with the UN standard for emergency relief. After that piece, we will work on the badge issuance through SMS. You can check out the wiki that was started as MozFest, or take a look at the work being started on Github.