OCHA’s ReliefWeb has (a very rough) transcript of my recent podcast with IRIN on the use of technology in Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake relief effort.
A pertinent excerpt from the interview:
TUNBRIDGE: Did you see what is going on high-tech world here is unprecedented. Did you think it is going change forever the way we do respond to disasters?
HATTOTUWA: The way we respond to disasters it will always be the same. It will require sweat. It will require physical effort and it will require political will. These three key ingredients are the backbone of any post disaster relief effort and these will not change even as we move into the future. What I think highly demonstrates quite clearly is that technology is the fourth element. We have seen an unprecedented effort with regards to technology deployment to find out very rapidly after the earthquake what the needs on the ground were, where the most urgent cases of aid were in Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country. As well as technology deployments to generate financial aid for the relief efforts. I think Goggle set up a dedicated page very quickly after the earthquake. Apple allows you to donate through Itunes. And unprecedented sum of money that the American Red Cross – the ICRC have got through mobile donations. I think at last count 10 to 12 million US dollars. This has been unprecedented in relief efforts for disasters of this nature and certainly yes it will change the way the world responds to disasters. Because these are now technologies that as we have seen with Haiti can be extremely quickly deployed and we have seen with platforms like USHAHIDI, SHAHANA, INSTEED that is a global community behind these efforts to shape it to translate the systems into Creole and French, to fine tune the systems to the needs on the ground in Haiti. I think this has been unprecedented in the way they respond to the disasters and certainly sets the parameters of what we can expect in the future after disasters such as this.