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Haiti earthquake tests Crisis Commons' disaster response

Haiti earthquake tests Crisis Commons’ disaster response

After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, people from around the world began offering their assistance. The disaster-recovery community known as Crisis Commons has emerged as a way to offer real technical help, not just a monetary donation.

Crisis Commons is an online community of people with varying levels of Web and technical skills who help with disaster response. Co-founders Heather Blanchard, Noel Dickover and Andrew Turner met at a Government 2.0 BarCamp (an attendee-organized "unconference") in early 2009. There, the D.C.-based trio began brainstorming about ways the software developer community could improve disaster relief.

“What we were trying to do at the time was bring together the international first responders with the national first responders,” explains Dickover, a human performance technology consultant. “We wanted to tie them in with the high-tech companies, the Web 2.0 companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.”

Dickover teamed up with Blanchard, a music blogger with expertise in crisis response, and Turner, CTO at FortiusOne and cofounder of GeoCommons, to host the first Crisis Camp in Washington, D.C., in May 2009. They worked on the most pressing crisis of the time: displaced refugees in Afghanistan and Pakistan. From this first Crisis Camp, a lasting community was created. When news reports of the Haiti earthquake surfaced, that community was ready to spring into action.

Jamie Swedberg is a freelance business and technology writer based in Athens, Ga.



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Haiti earthquake tests Crisis Commons' disaster response

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