Strong Angel III – 21st August 2006

Day Two

No internet.

The irony is that many developing world countries have less international bandwidth than we have at Strong Angel III within a 100 yard radius.

This quote, from a post of an organisation involved in SA III, captures succintly the problem. While it is not unusual to not have connectivity in a post-disaster zone / scenario, the lack of connectivity in SA III is beginning to impact on the activities and projects that people have brought on site. Given that at the end of the day this is a demonstration of technologies for disaster response, some degree of connectivity would be imperative to move forward from this point onwards.

There was an interesting meeting that brought together two very different cultures – NGOs and the military. The group was too large for an in-depth exploration of the tenacious issues surrounding coordination and collaboration between these two sectors. What was not touched were coordinator and collaboration with non-state armed groups (such as the LTTE or the Karuna faction in Sri Lanka, or the LRA in Uganda) and importantly, coordination and collaboration within each sector. As I see it, it will take decades and perhaps a generational change for coordination and collaboration to improve significantly.

One can of course question why NGOs and the military should work closer together, given the very different strategic imperatives that drive and underpin the actions and interventions of each sector. I would however submit that a greater measure of information sharing is absolutely necessary between and within the two sectors – the central challenge being to establish protocols of information exchange.

Protocols of information exchange go beyond the technical foundations of secure information transfer within and between these sectors. While network security is an evolving concept and can never guarantee data leakage or theft, what is more important than looking at transport and data storage security are the human protocols that govern such exchanges of sensitive information. This involves adult education on network and computer security, the protocols involved in sharing sensitive information, proper use of databases, modalities for inviting users etc – all of which need to be established for a wide spectrum of scenarios.

There was an interesting breakout session in the afternoon on Microsoft’s SSE that was combined with some discussion on security and the sharing of information in post-disaster scenarios.

Discussions with Sahaha and the GIS folks continued – so much of what I would like to see in data visualisation of datasets like IDPs, refugee movement, social networking aspects of volunteers, active tracking of nodes in the field – are those that are being actively developed at SA III.