In Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Disaster Management, Foresight, News and Events on May 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm
Editor’s note: In September 2012, the Commons Lab hosted the Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management workshop. Over two days, we spoke with a number of event participants for a series of video podcasts covering various aspect of the proceedings. The conversation below with Eric Rasmussen is the first of these podcasts. Please stay tuned: Additional installments will be posted in the coming weeks and the workshop summary report will be published in June.
Eric Rasmussen wears many hats: He is a medical doctor, a research professor for environmental security and global medicine at San Diego State University, an affiliate associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington, and the managing director at Infinitum Humanitarian Systems, a “profit-for-purpose” company in California that focuses on reducing vulnerability for systems and populations. In addition to sitting on a number of boards, Rasmussen served in the Navy for more than 25 years and was deployed more than 15 times to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
In this podcast, Rasmussen discusses the limitations software developers face when moving ideas from concept to implementation in disaster response, noting that developers often have too little access to end users and too little understanding of the constraints faced by those users in the field. He also discusses the need to engage agencies and other responders early on to make sure new systems are incorporated into agency response plans and the role of policymakers in addressing these challenges.
In Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Disaster Management, Foresight, Technology and the Law on April 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm
During last week’s frenzied pursuit of suspects after the Boston Marathon bombings, we commented on the danger of attempting to crowdsource a criminal investigation. After Friday’s arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, new information on how law enforcement located the suspect has shed light on the process. Despite good intentions, intelligence analysis of this type is a poor fit for untrained amateurs. From the Washington Post:
[T]he social media revolution meant that the FBI and Boston authorities were under intense pressure to move even faster, because thousands of amateur sleuths were mimicking the official investigation, inspecting digital images of the crowd on Boylston Street and making their own often wildly irresponsible conclusions about who might be the bombers.
On an investigative forum of Reddit.com, since removed from the site, users compiled thousands of photos, studied them for suspicious backpacks and sent their favorite theories spinning out into the wider Internet.
“Find people carrying black bags,” wrote the Reddit forum’s unnamed moderator. “If they look suspicious, then post them. Then people will try and follow their movements using all the images.”
The moderator defended this strategy by arguing that “it’s been proven that a crowd of thousands can do things like this much quicker and better. . . . I’d take thousands of people over a select few very smart investigators any day.”
In addition to being almost universally wrong, the theories developed via social mediacomplicated the official investigation, according to law enforcement officials. Those officials said Saturday that the decision on Thursday to release photos of the two men in baseball caps was meant in part to limit the damage being done to people who were wrongly being targeted as suspects in the news media and on the Internet.
Fortunately, the suspect was apprehended and critiques of Reddit’s investigative techniques were swift and emphatic. But this could have easily gone much worse. This experience provides an example of where the wisdom of the crowd can be anything but wise.
In Commons Lab, Crowdsourcing, Disaster Management, News and Events on March 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm
If you think so, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Humanity United want to hear from you. The groups have announced a competition for people looking to apply technology to the prevention of atrocities around the world. And it’s not too late to get involved. Here is a March 6 statement with some more detail:
Despite a global effort to prevent atrocities including genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass rape, millions remain at risk. In an effort to combat future atrocities, today the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Humanity United launched the second and final round of the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention and competition, an innovative approach to developing new ways to combat and prevent the worst human rights violations.
The Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention encourages individuals, groups and organizations to apply technology-based solutions to the most significant challenges surrounding atrocity prevention. Submitted in the form of prototypes or concept papers, proposals are reviewed by a prestigious panel of judges comprised of human rights and technology experts and U.S. government leaders. Winners receive cash prizes. Humanity United and USAID will also explore the possibility of piloting and scaling the most promising innovations. Read the rest of this entry »
In Commons Lab, Disaster Management, Guest Blogger, Technology and the Law on November 7, 2012 at 11:59 am
Editor’s note: This guest blog is by Edward S. Robson, Esq.
In the past I have written about the tort liability that digital volunteers face when making responses. In addition to a number of other strategies, one method for reducing liability is to obtain indemnification from the governmental agency or NGO requesting the services of the digital volunteers.
First, a few words about indemnification: This means to require a requestor to pay any expenses or awards associated with the claims brought against digital volunteers as a result of their work for the requesting party. If a member of a digital volunteer group negligently released information causing a disaster victim to be injured, the requesting agency would be contractually required to pay attorney’s fees incurred in defense, or any awards. An indemnification agreement would not necessarily cover all conduct of digital volunteers, including acts of gross negligence or recklessness.
To obtain indemnification, groups need an agreement with the party requesting service. The agreement need not be actively negotiated but could be contained in an online activation request. The acceptance of terms and conditions, including acceptance of indemnification, would be a prerequisite for submission of an activation request.
Many groups are developing activation protocols or criteria for determining which calls for assistance they will answer. The willingness of a requestor to indemnify a group and its members seems a logical criterion for separating the sometimes overwhelming requests for help. It could provide a layer of confidence for digital volunteers and encourage action. Read the rest of this entry »
In Commons Lab, Disaster Management, News and Events on October 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm
Editors note: This event is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2012 from noon to 1 pm.
The Commons Lab of the Science and Technology Innovation Program welcomes Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Director, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, University of Missisippi School of Law and Research Professor of Law.
The Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Disasters Charter) provides for the voluntary sharing of satellite imagery in the event of major disasters. Prof. Gabrynowicz will address the contents, structure, and status of the Charter, and highlight its strengths and weaknesses with a focus on how it could develop in the future. She also will discuss data access and sharing issues.
When: Friday, November 30, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EST
Where: 6th Floor Board Room
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
(Near Federal Triangle or Metro Center Metros)
This meeting is free and open to the public. Allow time for routine security procedures. A photo ID is required for entry. For more time and to RSVP, please visit: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/international-disasters-charter-introduction-initial-issues-and-experiences
This event is co-hosted by the Commons Lab of the Science and Technology Innnovation Program, Woodrow Wilson Center, and the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi School of Law.
An archived video will be posted within a week of the event.Disclaimer: The materials on this website do not constitute legal advise. This event and presentation is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone’s review of the information shall not be deemed to reate such a relationship. You should consult your own attorney if you have a legal matter requiring attention. Also, nothing on this sie creates an express or implied contract.