Strong Angel III – 22nd August 2006

Day Three

I’m now on a wired connection, the wireless connection being too slow and over burdened for any meaningful work to be done. This is a challenge for those who use high bandwidth applications or data transfers here – unused as they are to the realities of ground conditions in the days after a disaster. Of course, as a simulation exercise that spans first world and developing world responses, SA III’s caveat is that it can become everything and nothing – the solutions that can be envisioned for a response in a city like San Diego may well work in a real life scenario, but would be wholly inapplicable in any other part of the world (and vice versa).

I’m continuing to have discussions with vendors on ways they can make their solutions better. My earlier post on the GIS solution(s) demonstrated today during the briefing in the afternoon was a case in point.

There is a distinct lack of emphasis on the media – the interactions between community media, mainstream media and the mashups possible between old & new media in support of the response to the SA III scenario. The vital role of media in disasters and peacebuilding needs little explanation:

Effective working relationships require the media, NGOs (non-governmental relief or development organizations), scientists, government agencies and international organizations to recognize that, while they have much in common, they also often have distinct objectives and needs. Many participants noted the importance of recognizing those differences and of working together to explore ways of helping meet each others’ needs. It is also important to recognize differences among media (print vs. broadcast, radio vs. television, domestic vs. international, etc.) and to take into account their distinct characteristics, potential, and needs. Participants also noted that the media and relief organizations at times, and appropriately, challenge each other and ask difficult, penetrating questions. After all, said one Roundtable audience member, “it is through the media that the agencies are accountable to the public.

Excerpt from The Role of the Media in Disaster Mitigation. There also an interesting article on disasters and media here.

It will be interesting to see how SA III engages with the media and community input in the days ahead and it’s something that I’ll be working on with folks from Internews as well to engineer.

Given the paucity of bandwidth on the wireless networks and the intermittent connectivity in general, much of the information on-site has migrated from the world of bits to the world of atoms. I Information markers in the form of billboards, butcher paper, ribbons, printed maps, cardboard cutouts and scraps of paper have taken the place of the sophisticated information exchange and social networking built into the SA III website, which is by and large inaccesible on-site. This, in and of itself, is a valuable lesson.