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09/22/2005 Meeting Notes

These notes are a best effort. Blog your corrections and commentary.


AH: Ann House
BS: Brett Stilwell
j: j
EG: Erica George
RF: Randy Fenstermacher
D: Diane, a Shorenstein fellow
AW: Amanda Watlington
BI: Bill Ives
DEF: Deborah Elizabeth Finn
C: Chris from co
SJ: SJ Klein

  • Introductions
  • DEF: katrina peoplefinder
    • ad hoc geek emergency response
    • recognized need for standards for future
    • created by the same people who did
    • there were a zillion different ad hoc things springing up, the idea was to focus entirely on peoplefinding, on standardizing – make one place to search
    • PFIF peoplefinder interchange format, an XML format (a technology standard)
    • there is both a GUI for the public and a wiki back end for geeks to add things
    • ethan zuckerman, andy carvin, gail **..
    • lots fo sub-divided work so anyone with a few minutes to work on a small chunk can do it, as a volunteer.
    • there are 600,000 records – so obviously there are duplications, but not yet a way to check them and get rid of them.
    • lots of the data is being scraped from the red cross etc
    • there have been 4 years since 9/11 and this wasn’t developed – instead it’s been volunteer geeks doing it into the night on an emergency basis
    • project has been sued: for violation of copyright of a tv station in florida, for scraping their data about survivors.
    • re copyright law, public information is not copyrightable
    • but the issue is, privacy. how much is all of this information violating the privacy of anyone. lame answer: we’re making all this info that’s already out on the net searchable in one place. in an emergency you make judgment calls. nothing here is going from offline to online by way of this project.
    • AW: but there is still the concern to have that much info out there. ID theft, etc.
    • the peoplefinder data standard is now, of course, usable for more than just katrina. we now have it for future emergencies.
    • vision for future preparedness – DEF has been in touch w other nonprofits re emergency response. But nobody can talk much til the current disaster is recovered enough past emergency basis
    • what if we used community technology centers to train people in advance. train people who know how to enter a query, start a record, to assist ppl in the *next* disaster
    • AW: some ppl have had bandwidth issues getting in to the FEMA website. Would they let nonprofits mirror the data so people aren’t getting shut out of the FEMA website.
    • united way is coming on board. the points of light fdtn is coming aboard…
    • SJ: how did this work with things like tha yahoo multisite search that developed?
    • DEF: i don;t knwo the details but there has been cooperation
    • the katrina help wiki has much much more info than just katrina
    • AW: are there any metrics on the success?
    • DEF: no. but some folks are documenting it and will try to capture as much of that type of data as possible
    • AW: goal should be to have some standard procedures for information technology in the case of future disdasters etc.
    • DEF: abslutely. getting say red cross on board will be very hard…
    • how to help ppl find this stuff who need it – there is an outreach team. we want social workers and emts and etc to know about this. umbrella nonprofit orgs, etc.
    • issue of duplication of labor: new “foundations” springing up from nowhere, without any resources, etc.
    • this hopefulyl has basically changed emergency respopnse forever
    • AH: why wasn’t any of this being done earlier over the past 4 years?
    • DEF: political and corporate culture still has not moved into the web era in so many ways. the web is conducive to geek ad hoc response.
    • AW: we’ve seen a swithc away from government response, a fragmentization of efforts. what has disintegrated? the food is not near the people, for example. and people are saying, well, volunteers are providing the food, and they won;’t go just anywhere. so we need some bureaucracy, some professionals, etc.
    • DEF: but we are now seeing where there are failures, and this is showing us what needs to be fixed for the long run
    • BI: and let’s not forget the issue of the looming Rita…
    • DEF: electronic advocacy: (John McNutt)
    • to get money you need to show efficacy
    • measurement is lower than evaluation which is lwoer than research, in the money food chain
    • some disucssion of efficacy, of whether those being helped are those who already have some of the resources for helping themselves or a true cross-section of their area
    • : a way to access by phone – it has no privacy whatsoever, but people can leave public voicemails.
    • lots of talk re authority to take action and policy issues if FEMA isn’t able to be the org in charge.
  • other stuff:
    • j quick discussion with MIT conf next week: – brett will try to get flickr and someone else people to come hang w us
    • and other announcements – see the main page
    • brett will make our cool tools sidebar into an easy dynamic delicious page instead of icky old static html 😀
  • Food
  • is to be decided… possibly cambridge common but not sure
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