Archive for November, 2009

Collabbit used by NYC Salvation Army to help serve 10,000 Thanksgiving dinners

On Thanksgiving day Eli and I were in New York city to observe the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner program, feeding more than 10,000 New Yorkers across the boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester – up from 800 meals in 2008 and one of the largest Thanksgiving Dinners in the Division’s 129-year history. ( )

The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services team coordinated the one-day event in a style similar to an emergency mass feeding. A work force of 500 volunteers and employees served food across the various sites. The Emergency disaster services team used an instance of Collabbit ( to plan and track the event as it happened.

Zach posting an update at Harlam site

Zach posting an update at Harlem site

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Software Freedom Week at Trinity

The HFOSS Project capped off its Software Freedom Week activities with a public lecture on Free Your Mind: Social Change Begins with Software by Leslie Hawthorn,  program manager for Google’s Open Source Programs Office, where she’s the community manager for the Google Summer-of-Code Program. The lecture was funded by the Mellon-funded CTW computer science project and cosponsored by the Hartford Community IT Project and the TrinFo Cafe.

Photos from Leslie’s talk and other SFW activities are available on the HFOSS flickr site.   A link to a video of the talk will be posted here as soon as it is available.

Software Freedom Week was the brainchild of Prasanna Gautam (Trinity ‘11) who, together with Chris Fei (Trinity ‘10), planned and organized many of the activities.   The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the founding of the free software movement by Richard Stallman.  September 19th this year was Software Freedom Day,  a global effort to promote the use of free and open source software (FOSS).  Many groups around the world participated in the outreach effort.

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Random Hacks of Kindness

rhokOn Friday November 13th Chris and I attended the first “Random Hacks of Kindness” (RHoK) codejam at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View California, jointly organized by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Worldbank and NASA.

RHoK is an initiative that brings together disaster relief experts and software engineers to work on identifying key challenges to disaster relief, and developing solutions to these critical issues. This Codejam is the first of a series of RHoK events that will bring developers and domain experts together for a “give camp” to solve real world-problems related to Crisis/Disaster Relief.

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Camp Roberts Exercise Day 2

Finished another busy day at the camp Roberts exercise today. We made progress on several fronts.

Here is an extract from the STAR-TIDES RELIEF 10-1 website to give you a little background on the efforts.

Under a partnership between the National Defense University and the Naval Postgraduate School, the STAR-TIDES initiative hosts quarterly experiments at a remote field site in Paso Robles, CA (Camp Roberts). These experiments explore the edge of the possible within humanitarian operations, focusing on the creation of a common operating picture between all responding organizations–civilian and military, domestic and international.

The experiments in November 2009 will explore four areas:

  1. Open Aerial Data: Using UAVs to build a new base map of a region, and creating the software to automatically mosaic those still images into a new base map.
  2. Cross-Sector Information Sharing: Using quickly deployable, flexible, and scalable virtual machines to create a network of interoperable, networked information sharing devices that will connect all organizations working in a theatre of operations.
  3. Mobile Data Collection: Using mobile devices to submit structured and unstructured data to gateways that automatically map and analyze the incoming flow of information.
  4. Disaster Management System Development: Extending the Sahana disaster management system to include integration with Android phones, netbooks, OLPCS, and other computing devices.

Chamindra and I were working on getting Sahana SMS capabilities configured on the netbook using a Palm Treo 670 connected via bluetooth as a SMS gateway using smstools and AT commands. It wasn’t the most stable of environments and we ran into more than a few setbacks. We did successfully get it running on Windows using FrontLineSMS, SMS Tools and a  tethered nokia phone.  Chamindra is writing a new module to better integrate the incoming SMS messages from the field.  We are also working together with Robert K. to integrate GeoRSS feeds through GeoChat.

Chris wrote a android application to capture geo-coded tags out in the field and send it back to the Sahana server via SMS. This application will be tested tomorrow.

Antonio wrote a new “Personnel Management” module for Sahana, which facilitates the self registration of first responders, observers, or anyone involved in  a disaster response. Participants in the Moneray county fire evacuation exercise will come through and register through this new registration system. The “Personnel Management” (PM) module is an extrapolation of the VM module self registration capabilities, allowing it to function as an outward facing module for Sahana. In the same note the PM module would be expanded to allow for the registration of other information including additional organizations or assets relating to personnel.

Gavin and Mark worked on pre-populating the Sahana instance with some data sets. We have been joined by Sahana’s resident GIS expert David and a new comer to the community Dan.

For up to the  minute happening from the exercise visit STAR TIDES RELIEF 10-1 at

We will upload some photos later. This author happened to leave his camera cable back in the East Coast.

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Camp Roberts RELIEF Exercise: Day 1

Trishan and I are writing this post from a trailer on McMillan Airbase in Camp Roberts near Paso Robles, CA.  Right now, we’re waiting for some of the necessary infrastructure to be set up before we can start working.  We are attending the RELIEF (Research and Experimentation for Local and International Emergency and First Response) 10-1 disaster exercise organized by the Naval Postgraduate School.

We arrived at the San Francisco airport yesterday and met up with Chamindra de Silva, Mark Prutsalis, and Gavin Treadgold of the Sahana Foundation.  After a 3 hour road trip, we finally made it to our hotel room, grabbed a bite to eat, and got a chance to relax a bit.

Expect more updates throughout the day and tomorrow.  We’re going to be working on the Volunteer Management module for Sahana and possibly interfacing POSIT ( running on Android devices with a Sahana server.

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