Crowd Aid Exchange
"Recent climate change models predict an increase in extreme weather events. Governments and NGOs around the world face mounting pressure to provide disaster relief to many vulnerable communities. Events in the USA, like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, have shown that emergency services don’t have the capacity to reach everyone in need. In developing countries like Haiti the situation is even more desperate. How can mobile network technology and social networking help isolated people?
Crowd mapping platforms such as Ushahidi and social media sites like Twitter are already being used by thousands of people during disasters. Inspired by these applications, Crowd Aid Exchange is part of a long-term vision to create an international humanitarian project that uses the full potential of social networking and mobile technology.
Crowd Aid Exchange is a peer to peer social networking application that is customised to safely connect people to each other during and after disasters. This enables individuals to share resources, find lost people and stay updated on the most critical information from response teams. Crowd Aid Exchange has a number of features that increase chances of surviving and rebuilding after disasters." (http://www.humanitariancentre.org/2013/02/introducing-crowd-aid-exchange/)
"Crowd Aid Exchange allows you to trade, offer aid and receive aid from anyone else on the Exchange. The system uses your location data to network you with those closest to you. An intelligent search function allows users to list posts on the exchange by locality, an individual’s needs or the needs of others. The software can be browser or app based and is capable of independent networking through direct peer to peer intranet networking. Any device with network connectivity can use Crowd Aid Exchange from laptops, Amazon Kindle and mobile phones, including older generation phones using a customised SMS platform.
Perhaps you have food but need water. Maybe you have resources but need security. Perhaps you’re trapped in a building and emergency phone lines are jammed but your GSM data service still works. Maybe you are in a position to help others? Crowd Aid Exchange will be the place to make the most of your resources.
One of the biggest challenges for social networking during disasters is trust. With so many vulnerable people in desperate situations, how can one trust a stranger to help? The Exchange includes a reputation system similar to eBay (or crowd surfing?). Users can earn reputation points by offering help to others, who then verify them and add comments about their interaction. As a user’s reputation score increases, s/he is able to view more posts and create group requests to gather teams of people for larger projects, like clearing debris or rebuilding critical infrastructure.
Information is critical during disasters. The alert system is designed to make the most of what limited signal you have. Essentially it works as an interactive information aggregator that displays feeds from emergency response teams (Red Cross/Crescent), crowd maps (Ushahidi) and social media (Twitter, Facebook). It also allows users to post alerts, which others can confirm through the ‘verify’ button, effectively increasing the quality of information on the Exchange. The Alert function can be linked to your Twitter/Facebook/Google accounts and your posts or watches will aggregate information to your feed.
Crowd Aid Exchange allows users to post their ‘alive’ or location status or set up watches for ‘check-ins’, either on the platform or through third party crowd maps, Twitter, Facebook, Google Response and other systems. Rather than searching through a dozen or so platforms, Crowd Aid Exchange’s person finder will aggregate person finding quickly and efficiently.
A live updating survival guide
Crowd Aid Exchange includes a built in survival guide that intelligently downloads only the most appropriate information based on your location and situation. It also operates as a wiki system to allow users to update the system with local information before, during or after disaster strikes.
Keeping Crowd Aid Exchange safe
Security is at the heart of Crowd Aid Exchange. Vulnerable people are at risk from those whose social networking to identify resources and steal them. This is where the reputation system allows users to set who can see their posts by reputation, gender, age and/or locality. Users can hide their actual location, making it harder for people to find them. A built in chat system allows users to ask questions to verify identification and organize meetings in public places. Encryption between users and servers will stop anyone attempting to monitor traffic from intercepting information, whilst a central reporting server will allow access to governments checking for potential criminal activity.
Reaching people with limited access
Low bandwidth isn’t a big problem for Crowd Aid Exchange. With no images or maps to navigate, the entire interface is text based. The system is designed to avoid reloading new pages with most major functions operational from the home page. The code is being written to take advantage of recent data compression technology. Our aim is to be faster than Facebook or Twitter. Users with good bandwidth and a high spec device can turn their machine into a local server with a flick of a button speeding up access for those nearby." (http://www.humanitariancentre.org/2013/02/introducing-crowd-aid-exchange/)
- For more information about Crowd Aid Exchange contact Richard Dent