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Tech NGOs Working In Haiti 100

d5w writes "There are a thousand and one NGOs responding in some way to the disaster in Haiti, but the necessary infrastructure is usually overlooked when people give charity donations. In fact, some popular donation sites actively downgrade charities for spending on infrastructure. Here are two organizations responding in Haiti, though, that have a purely tech infrastructure focus: Télécoms Sans Frontières brings mobile telecom rigs and satellite phones to disaster sites, making sure that responders on the ground can communicate with each other and that individuals can contact families abroad; here's an eWeek story about TSF. MapAction sends experienced GIS people and GPS equipment to provide up-to-date mapping, which is important when the landscape has just changed drastically. Any others?"
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Tech NGOs Working In Haiti

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  • And an NGO is what? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks.

    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:14AM (#30779110) Journal
      Non-Governmental Organization [wikipedia.org]. Special tax status and all that apply.
      • Speaking of NGOs, here is a reputable charity that accepts PayPal or Google Checkout for donations (I found most of the others like Red Cross and Doctors without Borders only took credit cards). For anyone interested in donating, but would prefer to do so via PayPal or Google:

        http://www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/other/k12063 [tzuchi.org]

        While primarily a Buddhist organization, their charity "arm" is secular, and not subject to some of the proselytizing that can go along with other "religious" charities.
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          While primarily a Buddhist organization, their charity "arm" is secular, and not subject to some of the proselytizing that can go along with other "religious" charities.

          I have never heard or seen a Buddhist organization proselytize.

          Newbie Buddhists will make asses of themselves many times and telling folks about "their" "insights" but other than that, I don't know of any Buddhist organization that has any type of missionary that actively tries to convert people - there wouldn't be any point anyway.

          • by Zerth ( 26112 )

            Back around 200 BC, King Ashoka encouraged a lot of buddhist proselytizing, and is one of the earliest historical evidences of buddhism. But he was a recently converted newbie buddhist, so it is to be expected:)

            But yah, encouraging someone to convert or thinking you "belong" to a religion is just self-grasping thought.

          • I have never heard or seen a Buddhist organization proselytize

            Neither have I. I merely stated something that should be understood, but often isn't for many people. You'd be surprised how often people then to lump Buddhism/Buddhists in with all other religions or "isms", and by extension tend to think that the same types of strings are attached.

        • http://www.google.com/relief/haitiearthquake/

          There.
      • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:08PM (#30781434)
        I'm going to start an NGO specializing in business intelligence ... BI NGO.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      Non Government Organization. You should know this.
      • Why? I'm 34, have been to college, have a family, 2 kids, have a 156 IQ, and subscribe to the SF Chronicle, and keep up on current events. This is the first time I've seen the term NGO used in any context. Why would you expect an international audience from a multitude of backgrounds to have acquired your specific set of knowledge? Seriously self centered thinking there bucko...
  • Infrastructure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:18AM (#30779138)
    "In fact, some popular donation sites actively downgrade charities for spending on infrastructure."

    My guess is that it downgrades them for spending it on their OWN infrastructure (like phone lines, buildings, etc) as opposed to spending it on the recipient's infrastructure.

    Infrastructure is pretty much at the top of the list for things that Haiti needs, since their "roads" look like dried riverbeds, running water is all but nonexistent, and power is provided only to major cities and only on a rotational basis.
    • Once the infrastructure is restored, most of the other problems will be a lot easier to resolve. Emergency management is really an exercise on which way to attack a problem. Unfortunately it's one of those things where you're damned if you and damned if you don't.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      I would agree about but the infrastructure they need most is medical right now. Things like better roads, cell service, and power can take a back seat until people with broken limbs are off the street and getting medical care. Clear roads, power to hospitals, and communications for relief workers will be needed ASAP.
      From what I have seen one of the biggest needs will first be meet by the USN when the big ships with helicopters and hospitals get on station.

      • Re:Infrastructure? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:41AM (#30780096)

        Things like better roads, cell service, and power can take a back seat until people with broken limbs are off the street and getting medical care.

        But that's part of the problem. Without passable roads, many can not get to the medical infrastructure. And without phone service, large groups of people in rural locations are completely unable to obtain any type of aid at all. In fact, one of the first infrastructures restored to Hatti was airports and air traffic control. Yet such things obviously ranks low on your list of priorities; despite that fact its critical.

        In the US, our highway and rail systems are actually part of our national defense - as is the case for all industrialized nations. Take a look at the back of many signs on major highways, many have DOD stamps and/or numbers used for DOD and national emergencies. Without these resources, nothing can effectively move. That's the way it is in Hatti right now. Supplies are piling up at airports because its difficult to move anything out. This is forcing helicopters to become one of the primary movers and helicopters are extremely poor substitutes for trucks and trains.

        Remember, one truck can provide supplies for an entire village. It can take days for a helicopter to deliver the same quantity. And without simple things like phones, helicopters don't necessarily know the priorities of where supplies are most needed.

        In many cases, we're not talking about building street lights and paving roads - we're talking about running water, a line to call for help, means to deliver people medical help, food, water, electricity, sanitation, means to dispose of bodies and trash, to protect against disease, so on and so on...

        Remember, its widely believed one of the most significant technological advances for humans is plumbing and its associated water in and sanitation out. The need for basic infrastructure can not be stressed enough. It is extremely important.

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Actually you didn't read my entire post.
          "Clear roads, power to hospitals, and communications for relief workers will be needed ASAP."
          So yes I agree with you but want to make it clear we are not talking about building interstates and iphones here.
          The airport is important but frankly the port might end up being even more important.
          One ship can carry a lot more than many aircraft.

          • I was replying to your comment - not the article. Which makes since given I quoted you and not the article.

          • by fm6 ( 162816 )

            But the topic at hand is mostly information infrastructure. That's always needed. Ever notice how amateur radio operators end up playing a big role in many U. S. disasters? They provide a comm network that stays up when everything else is broken.

        • While I agree with most of your post. I'll quibble with you over this statement. "Remember, one truck can provide supplies for an entire village. It can take days for a helicopter to deliver the same quantity."

          I'm sorry but that's just wrong. While a CH-53E might not be able to carry quite as much as a truck. It's pretty close. And I don't think it would take days to get 2 of them there.

          • I'm sorry but that's just wrong. While a CH-53E might not be able to carry quite as much as a truck. It's pretty close. And I don't think it would take days to get 2 of them there.

            You're forgetting several key factors. One, helicopters can't stay in the air as long as trucks can stay on the road. Two, helicopters are several orders of magnitude more maintenance intensive. Three, trucks are far more common than helicopters, even in the likes of Hatti.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      Infrastructure is pretty much at the top of the list for things that Haiti needs, since their "roads" look like dried riverbeds, running water is all but nonexistent, and power is provided only to major cities and only on a rotational basis.

      And that was before the earthquake.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 )
        Yes. An important note is that everything I listed were conditions BEFORE the Earthquake.
    • Infrastructure is only good if it's already in place prior to the disaster.

      Building/Rebuilding infrastructure is actually not frequently a good response to a disaster, beyond getting basic communications up and running to support other disaster relief efforts, which can generally be provided by mobile/temporary radio emplacements.

      As an example, in the US Virgin Islands, they tend to have extreme hurricanes every couple of years. You can walk around in Christiansted or Frederiksted on St. Croix afterwards,

  • Doctors with borders, Telecoms without borders. They cooked all that up, reinforcing the human rights as a species. I still think their best contribution might be mayo and Francois Truffuat, but, hey, this is still pretty good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 )
      Seriously, the Haitians _HATE_ the French. It could be the years of occupation and slavery, it could be the recent Embargo that France recommended the UN hold against Haiti, it could the $21 Billion that they demanded of Haiti in order to recognize them as a sovereign nation
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Noryungi ( 70322 )

        Yes, and they also hate the Americans. It could be the years of occupation and quasi-slavery (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_occupation_of_Haiti [wikipedia.org]), it could be the recent embargo that the USA recommended the UN hold against Haiti, or the US unwavering support to Duvalier's "Papa Doc" bloody reign of terror, not to mention the plundering of Haiti by large American banks and corporations.

        What's your point? My experience of Haitian people is that, while they are proud of kicking Napoleon's butt

        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:18AM (#30779804) Homepage Journal

          I can honestly say that the people from Haiti I have meet have all been wonderful people. I am sure that just like every group of people their are the good, the bad, and the terrible. I don't think one can say that Haitians hate or love any group. They are people. Right now all I can say is that they need our help and we need to help.
          Simple as that and I suggest that we stop damning any nation that is helping. Heck Cuba is giving the US overflight rights for relief flights. Iceland is helping out. I have the greatest respect for every group that is helping out. At this point historical grudges are useless. All that matters is the future and helping. So yes Doctors without Boarder you are great. The Red Cross. You are great. American Airline "they flew in 50,000 lbs of supplies yesterday" you are great. The USCG you are great, The USN you are great. Catholic Relief services you are great. The kid that is going to give his or her allowance is great.
          GET OVER IT the arguing and give a few dollars. As Clinton said, "right now we need a whole lot of people to each give even just a little". http://bit.ly/4vM63t [bit.ly] is a list of some of the best charities to donate to.

          And to the scammers out there taking money that should be going to help. I want you found, skinned alive, rolled in rock salt, and dunked in vinegar!

          And you credit card companies. If you don't want to be damned for all time wave all credit card fees for donations to reputable charities retroactively.

          • by fm6 ( 162816 )

            The USCG you are great,

            I read somewhere that USCG saves somebody's life every 20 minutes. A bit of mundane heroism.

            GET OVER IT the arguing and give a few dollars.

            Thanks for an excuse to trash my least favorite pundit.

            http://bit.ly/8jSlnX [bit.ly]

            And you credit card companies. If you don't want to be damned for all time. . .

            Too late!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

              You not helping.
              Really now is the time to drop all politics.
              Ignore the the idiots.
              Do what is right.
              And give thanks and praise to all that that are doing what is right.
              I already gave with my tax dollars. Great I will give even more. Tax money to save lives in a disaster? Great!
              I can skip going to see a movie this week and give another twenty. I really wanted to see that movie but not as much as I want to see fewer deaths in Haiti.
              I left out the USAF. They had a SOP ATC team on the ground the next day. As CNN

              • by fm6 ( 162816 )

                So, you demand that we not be indifferent to one evil, but insist that we ignore another. Not only is that inconsistent, but it ignores the fact that bigotry and hate-mongering have everything to do with conditions in Haiti.

                • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

                  Not at all. It is resources. Will it in anyway help? Anyone with a clue hears that crap will turn away in disgust.
                  And that wasn't bigotry that was just greed speaking.
                  But the way I feel about it is simply this. If you think you have given enough then fine. You have to live with yourself. If you think your tax money is enough that is up to you. All I can say is that is not enough for me and I will chip in more.
                  I don't think you can fight evil by making fun of it. Frankly attention is power to talking heads.

                  • by fm6 ( 162816 )

                    Anyone with a clue hears that crap will turn away in disgust.

                    Rush Limbaugh has a lot of influence. Clueless or not, his followers have a big say in conservative politics. Republican pols criticize him at their peril.

                    I don't think a responsible citizen can just dismiss such a large group of people as "clueless".

                    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

                      Actually I don't I think that a very large number of his fans are now his former fans. Only the most greedy troll with buy into this and frankly he his really risking his base. Every church on the planet is trying to get help to the people of Haiti. So with the religious right he is going the opposite way of what there leaders are teaching. And frankly every conservative Christian can be informed as to the evil with just one scripture just say "Matthew 25:41-46".
                      I promise you that will do more good than ca

        • In my experience, they do not also hate the Americans. They largely see us as benefactors with big hearts and deep wallets who are simply too stupid/blinded by our great way of life to realize what is really going on in their country. Naturally, that's all pretty much true. (Of course, it could be that they knew we were all Americans and therefore only talked good things about America without restraining their bad talk about France.)

          I know that when I went down there last year, they were all excited for
    • by MrMr ( 219533 )
      reinforcing the human rights as a species
      I think this should count: make it apply to everybody, not just citizens [wikipedia.org]
    • Don't forget the wine. And the cheese. And if you're in the South, maybe in the Nice/ Provence area, the cheese pizzas with the wine! (Or in the Alps they have those cheesy potato & onion pizzas, or...)

      • by tjstork ( 137384 )

        Don't forget the wine.

        Yeah, they really do make some rather remarkable wines. Not to mention, champagne!

  • Well, there's a billion and one random internet people who would rather deliver some sarcasm than help people out. Some people are at least trying.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, there's a billion and one random internet people who would rather deliver some sarcasm than help people out. Some people are at least trying.

      From your message alone, I can't make up what the goal is of the people trying. Are they trying to be sarcastic? And are those billion and one random internet people failing to be sarcastic? I doubt a billion would be much.

      What are you doing other then critisizing "the billion and one sarcastic people", if I assume that's your message?

      It's hard to effectively do

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is why our governments have international crisis-funds so that WE don't have to. You see there is no karma energy in the cosmos. If you wan't to gloat and feel good about yourself, go ahead send them all your money. I'm a proud human being!

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        You do realize no matter how big the government numbers look, the private sector (businesses, individuals, and churches) usually trumps it in spades right?

        Of course just by your statement I know what side of the political fence you are on, because conservatives are much more generous than liberals as a whole, because we feel it is our duty to take care of our family first, our neighbor second, and our government third. The left believe in government taking care of us first, our families second, and our nei

  • Ushahidi (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Disaster mapping software with support for incoming SMS and email reports:

    http://haiti.ushahidi.com/

    • This looks like a great resource, mod parent up!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) *

      Ushahidi uses, in part, FrontlineSMS [frontlinesms.com] which also another great project doing some great work to help people world wide.

      There are so many ways for people with tech skills to get involved it is overwhelming. NGOs, RMOs, all your nonprofit type organizations operating in the developing world are pretty much always in need of skilled workers on just about every level. They can't usually pay all that high or just have limited funds in general.

      Those financial restraints also lead to the heavy use

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @10:48AM (#30779462) Homepage Journal

    Right now food, medical care, and water are needed today. So I would throw in, The Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, AmeriCares, UNICEF, and Doctors Without Boarders.
    Here is a list of the most highly rated charities http://www.charitywatch.org/hottopics/Haiti.html [charitywatch.org]
    I doubt that you can do wrong with any of them.
    Oh and hats of the ARRL. A friend of mine is a HAM radio operator that works with the State of Florida Emergency management services. He was joking that he was offered an "all expenses paid two week vacation in Haiti" yesterday. He can not go because his wife is in a wheelchair and he is her care giver but other members of his group are heading off to provide radio communications for Haiti.
    Last I heard the phone cable to Haiti was cut by the quake. Until that is repaired they will have to depend on satellite and radio to contact the outside world.
     

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Openstreetmap is already showing refugee camps

    see

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=18.53817&lon=-72.3414&zoom=16&layers=B000FTF

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The biggest thing Haiti and similar countries need to break out of the poverty cycle is to stop their population growth [ippf.org]. Until that happens no amount of infrastructure help will be enough.

    • Sorry but it does not work quite like that or is not the only factor,the earthquake, sadly, "solved" some of that overpopulation problem. It does not mater your population when you're given the opportunity to rule yourself and use your natural resources to create employment, the number one income source for Haiti as a whole it's emigrants sending money from around the world, thats the case of A LOT developing countries.

      China have lots of people and the interior people maybe rural and impoverished bu
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      Infrastructure will too help. The better off people are, the fewer children they have. Did you know that fertility rate is actually below replacement level in most developed countries? If it weren't for immigration, our population would be shrinking.

      But it's always easier to blame people for their own problems. Caring is such a hassle!

  • .. Haitian man, (they being BBC News 24) and he was very very specific, he said "We need medicines, food and water. We do not need money."

    Within 24 hours, the same news channel is talking about nothing but money being needed by these "Aid" organisations, regular appeals every 10 minutes, complete with web addresses and phone numbers to call to donate money.

    cut back to reporter on the scene, 60 hours after the quake, located 2 miles from the airport...

    "No, no aid of any kind has been seen here"

    Cut back to st

    • by lammy ( 1557325 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:30AM (#30779948)
      That's a deeply cynical opinion of the world's humanitarian aid charities. I couldn't disagree more. After the US army has been and gone it will be the likes of Red Cross/Red Crescent, and Medecins Sans Frontieres who will provide ongoing medical support to the recovering community. These charities all declare breakdowns of where the donated money is spent. The initial relief effort has been hampered by a number of factors, but your claim that the Red Cross aren't really there to help people but simply to promote their brand and accumulate wealth is way off the mark. The people of Haiti will be in a much worse position if these groups are not present, and without donations from the public these groups would not exist at all. Maybe you're trying to justify your decision not to donate, and to some extent I'm trying to justify my decision TO donate, but I don't think you're representing these groups fairly with your statements.
    • I guess you missed the frequent reports of security problems complicating the delivery of aid. Were my boots on the ground trying to deliver needed "...medicines, food and water..." and my safety were threatened, my prompt would be something along the lines of "Sucks to be you, because you just chased away all the help you're going to get," as those boots retreated from the threat. It is beyond cynical to expect medical personnel and other volunteers to work where they are not safe. Time for a reality check
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by indi0144 ( 1264518 )
        I bet you never ever have being starving, people riot because they know help it's being send but they are not receiving shit, theres no water, theres no food it's been 4 fucking days wouldn't you be pissed off: when some guy that can't understand you comes take a look talk something on the radio and left? They did know there were no roads why do they didn't bring a lot of helicopters, it's not that Port au Prince it a big place, no, help it's being firstly used in foreign people affected not Haiti people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Duradin ( 1261418 )

      Money is a lot easier to move around and it can be use to buy what the aid organization needs and in the quantity/packaging that they want to make shipping easier.

      Compare food packaged for direct consumer use and food packaged for commercial use. Now if Joe Six pack is going to donate food, is he going to donate a drum of industrial pudding or would he be likely to send a couple of snack packs of pudding? If you were an aid agency which one would you prefer to have to deal with? Or would you prefer to just

    • You've just documented the link between TV news and cynicism. It's not really news, it's video bites taken out of context and chosen to push your emotional buttons so you'll keep tuning in.

      If you want to have an informed opinion, turn off the idiot box and pick up a book or a newspaper. Or go online — the amount of real information you can get that way is mind-boggling.

  • One of my Uni internships was with them, I worked with TSF at their HQ in summer 2002, helping set up their new equipment and also for liaison with the Red Cross during the Venezuela floods that July. They're great people, and they provide priceless service to the other organizations and especially to those families who can get in touch with their relatives. It was a great experience.
  • by beadfulthings ( 975812 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:20AM (#30779828) Journal

    (Not affiliated with Doctors Without Borders): http://www.ewb-usa.org/ [ewb-usa.org]

    They had people in Haiti when the quake struck, and some were actually missing for a while. They have at least ten ongoing projects there.

  • by solevita ( 967690 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @11:22AM (#30779854)
    The OSM response has been hugely impressive with commercial companies donating high quality imagery that has been mapped by volunteers around the world. The resulting data has also been put to some very good uses. See here [brainoff.com] for an early description.
  • Hmm... Cellphone companies rushing to get infrastructure back up. I doubt the CFO of the cellphone companies are saying "They might be publicly saying lets get some help in there so that families can communicate and get the help they need". I am sure internally it is more like... "We are loosing a ton of money every day that the cellphone infrastructure is down. We need that up ASAP!"
    • So much for proof reading... It should have read... Hmm... Cellphone companies rushing to get infrastructure back up. They might be publicly saying "Lets get some help in there so that families can communicate and get the help they need". I am sure internally it is more like... "We are loosing a ton of money every day that the cellphone infrastructure is down. We need that up ASAP!"
      • Hmm... Cellphone companies rushing to get infrastructure back up Hmm... Cellphone companies rushing to get infrastructure back up. They might be publicly saying "Lets get some help in there so that families can communicate and get the help they need". I am sure internally it is more like... "We are loosing a ton of money every day that the cellphone infrastructure is down. We need that up ASAP!"

        This organization does not address general telecom infrastructure. Rather it establishes emergency telecommunications centers to serve UN, government, and NGO humanitarian workers.

  • The Thomson Reuters Foundation has deployed itsnew Emergency Information Service (EIS [trust.org]) to Haiti. An experienced team of Foundation journalists was sent to the country on Wednesday with the goal of seeking out, collating and disseminating life-saving information to the people.
  • by maitas ( 98290 ) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:03PM (#30780410) Homepage

    Communications is the most important part at this moment, to speed up the access to water and other basic sirvival needs. The more people connected the fastest they can move to the suply places.

  • Even when the supplies are there security needs to be in place to preventing rioting or chaos when the supplies are distributed. A few greedy people with guns can wreck any relief effort. This slows the overall effort at the beginning of course but distribution must be organized to really be effective.

  • http://www.hi8vb.tk/ [hi8vb.tk] Radio Hams from Dominican Republic, Cuba & USA who have travelled there to help with emergency communications.
  • Inveneo.org is preparing to send a team, whose mission is to set up long-shot WiFi links, and put down solar-powered computer workstations as network nodes. That is all the information I have at the moment: visit their site at Inveneo.org [inveneo.org]. -jw
  • If someone is using GIS Professionals to help the Hatians, why not get DigitalGlobe or TerraServer or another Satellite Imagery company to generate (georectify) before and after images of the areas. Host those images on a server.

    If someone could setup a website comparing the before the earthquake and after, you could use collective GIS and Remote Sensing community (you could use collective intelligence to tell people what need to be done to help recovery) to show blocked roads and bridges and help someon
  • I was an FS-5 Cisco Engineer in 2004 for the UN Stabilzation Mission in Haiti (MINUTSAH) where I maintained the VoIP and Data links back to Brindisi and it looks like the folks from my section didn't make it out. I have sent several emails to former colleagues and have gotten no responses. The US news media has pretty much glossed over the deaths at the compound and even the folks I work for now don't have any sat photos of it. Unfortunately, after 72 hours, it looks like nearly everyone there is dead. This

Suggest you just sit there and wait till life gets easier.

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