Disaster preparedness is something every nonprofit and public library needs to be on top of — whether you deal with disaster relief directly or not. Sometimes the communities you serve are affected by disaster, and there's also the chance that your own organization could face some sort of disaster.
The Red Cross is holding global workshops that bring together tech and nonprofit communities to explore how new technologies can be adopted for disaster relief. The idea is to come up with real solutions and plans that the Red Cross will actually be able to use in urban communities. I had the privilege of attending the San Francisco workshop.
The Red Cross identified seven emerging technologies for disaster relief:
We were asked to pick one technology to explore, so I chose 3D printing, which I've been tracking in public libraries. We were assigned to come up with a way our technology could be used to solve a disaster-related challenge. Through voting, we chose the best ideas and split into groups to come up with project plans for them.
My group's idea was to have a citywide network of 3D printers to print medical and other emergency supplies on demand. Naturally, I made sure that libraries were front-and-center in our plan. The 3D printers would be housed in public, accessible places like community centers, schools, and yes, libraries!
Each group gave a two-minute pitch of their project, and we voted again on our favorites.
Our project didn't win, but the two that did were really interesting and had the most potential to be used by relief organizations:
After considering the outcomes from the global workshops, the Red Cross and its collaborators will begin prioritizing and planning four field demonstrations using emerging technologies in the next year. After these pilots have been identified, a final report will be shared.
The workshop challenged me and my fellow attendees to think creatively and critically about disaster relief. It was gratifying to know that the Red Cross is going to use our ideas to come up with solutions that could save lives and rebuild communities.
Image 1: Australian Department of Defence / CC BY-NC-ND
Image 2: American Red Cross
Images 3 and 4: American Red Cross
Image 5: Anton Oparin / Shutterstock
Image 6: Mishella / Shutterstock
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
Thanks for this Ginny
Part of my current role is helping organisations working in Pakistan develop their DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) capacity. It is useful to see some future scoping and ideas about what tech might be deployed in a few years time. Of course this appeals to my techie nature but at the same time I cannot stop reminding people that if disaster strikes an organisation having secure data backups will stop being boring and become essential..
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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