Hacking Solutions to #RebuildPH: #BangonPH
The first reaction after a natural disaster is always to send relief goods and fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. What some people don’t realize, however, is that a severe lack of communication and access to information limits donations’ impact. #BangonPH offers a solution that consolidates multiple relief efforts, needs, and statistics of affected areas on an easy to navigate site. Inspired by the influx of crowd-sourced social media updates and multiple relief initiatives following Typhoon Haiyan, #BangonPH identified a need for collaboration. “We believe an online platform is needed to coordinate all of them. We also believed an online platform is crucial for a sustainable, long term effort,” #BangonPH advisor Mark Buenconsejo said.
The site started the day after Haiyan hit thanks to the team at Symph Studios, a Cebu-based startup. Symph founder Dave Overton said #BangonPH started simple, with eight locations and a people finder feature. After receiving hundreds of emails asking to include other locations, the team hustled to expand their reach. They first retrieved data manually, then partnered with local non-profits and three major newspapers in Cebu. Facebook Connect also allowed users to update information on locations and add relief efforts themselves.
Previous disasters in the Philippines unveiled a need for coordination to avoid uneven distribution of relief goods. #BangonPH’s visual indicator of allotted aid is a game changer battling common inefficiency. “Our goal was to help solve this distribution dilemma. We did receive a few emails from users of the site that confirmed what we feared–that certain communities’ areas were getting a lot of relief and others were not,” Overton said. The system reveals which remote areas remain empty handed and prompts people to reach out.
#BangonPH relies on open data to offer transparency and raise accountability. Each location status not only informs you how many people have been affected, but specific needs like water, medicine, and food and which of these have been met.
“Open data also allows developers/designers to collaborate on the data and not have to start from scratch,” Overton said. “In this way, a group can focus on what they do best.”
As promising as #BangonPH is for the future of disaster relief, challenges exist. As time moves forward and media drops the Philippines from headlines, the tendency is to forget the need for aid. Overton says their primary challenge is to keep #BangonPH relevant. It does, after all, subsist on our collective networks and knowledge.
About Contributor: Kristina Rodulfo is a NYC writer with a journalist’s curiosity, novelist’s creativity, and tweeter’s perspective. NYU student + budding Fil-Am community organizer.
Hacking Solutions to #RebuildPH Series |
This Hacking Solutions to #RebuildPH series showcases the entrepreneurs, scientists, makers and creatives who have seized the opportunity to rethink and innovate relief and rebuilding efforts in the Philippines and beyond. In the wake of mega storm Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), this series highlights disruptive and impactful solutions that will create a better future for affected communities.
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