My heart is in Myanmar – SharePoint for Disasters

If any group/organization involved in the efforts to help people affected by the Cyclone in Myanmar needs a SharePoint Expert I am happy to devote my skills toward the effort.  I would love to leverage my skills to help these people.  You can contact me at joleson@yahoo.com.  I’ve spent a few weeks the last 2 summers in South East Asia and love the people and various cultures.  I will be back in August for TechEd South East Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia.  I’ve spent some time in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
 
I know from experience that SharePoint was used with Katrina, and other disasters and could quickly be mobilized/setup and configured if needed.  It doesn’t make sense for me to set this up without it being coordinated with other efforts already under way.  If internet access is a problem, then potentially this could still be coordinated, but in other ways.
 
Here’s 5 simple ways it could be used.
 
1. Dynamic Communication/publishing platform on information people looking for news.
2. Tracking of people (people that are found or info on those looking for loved ones). Including contact lists, pictures, profiles, with or without security
3. Collaboration/Coordination of service work and supplies
4. Extranet collaboration between companies assisting in the effort
5. Search and aggregation portal.  A single place for aggregating information across multiple backend or other web infrastructure.
 
I was chatting with an MVP who is also interested in helping.  We are reaching out to the Gates Foundation,  Red Cross and anyone who will listen. 
 
There’s a good article on Microsoft’s web site about being a good corporate citizen and info on Disaster Relief and technology.  There’s information on SharePoint and Groove and how they can be of use in a disaster.  Also some references to NetHope a consortium of 22 NGOs.
 
I highly recommend reading the ECB report on emergency relief and technology and its role.  I really hope that we as IT people can actually make a difference to peoples lives.
 
Here’s a simple example of an app that could be built on SharePoint.  It’s a safe and well site where people can register and people can look for people that are lost.
 
 
I think the restrictions are too high.  The information you get out of it doesn’t seem that rich vs. what you’re required to get any info out of it.  Phone numbers plus names is too restrictive I think.  People are obviously electing to be found.  Think about facebook, with just a name you get a picture and a list of the person’s friends and status with so much more comes with one more click.  I wonder if facebook itself with status will be used in future disasters to determine if you are safe…  Social networking can bring people together, can it also bring safety?
 
I put a post together a few months ago on how I think SharePoint and Non Profits are an Awesome mix.
 
Additional Resources
 
SharePoint for Non Profits: http://www.sp4np.org/ – A forum with links and feeds
 
Susquehanna has commitments and mission to help Non Profits
 
Cyclone image from NASA

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