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When it comes to disaster response, every second counts and ready access to accurate information is essential. Typically, the window for post-disaster rescue closes after 72 hours. That’s why the China Social Assistance Foundation (CSAF) teamed with other NGOs and IBM to define and build the China Disaster Response Support Information Platform. An IBM Custom Grant enabled us to establish procedural and technical protocols that would enable agile responses in emergency situations.
The partners needed the disaster response platform to aggregate massive amounts of data, create a map of a disaster, and be able to provide relief staff with comprehensive information about personnel, materiel, support funds, traffic and safety conditions, shelters and the availability of health service workers – all within minutes. IBM took the lead in clarifying the vision and defining the scope and requirements for the project. Instead of being purely reactive, IBM capitalized on advanced technologies to build pre-disaster capacity and help ensure proactive disaster relief capabilities – including the effective collaboration among government and NGO entities.
During the course of the project, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Yunnan Province. We were able to coordinate disaster response efforts right away with help from the IBM team, which accelerated development and implementation of the system. It became clear during this period that there is more to disaster relief – or to any form of large-scale service – than simply providing relief funding. IBM’s contribution of technology and expertise was critical to driving the innovative thinking and inter-organizational cooperation required to address the Yunnan crisis.
IBM contributed nearly 3,500 hours of skills-based expertise to the disaster response platform project, including helping to build key functions related to the online implementation of the platform. Mobile access to platform information and functionality
also was essential, and IBM was a key player in that aspect of the program’s design
We had a rewarding experience working with IBM and our other partners to establish disaster preparedness and response methods to serve our citizens. We were particularly impressed with IBM’s agility when the Yunnan earthquake occurred in the middle of our project development period. And we came away from the project with a new appreciation for an integrated approach to development that engages partners from various industry sectors in service to common goals that none could achieve alone.
Guanghua Hu is General Secretary of the China Social Assistance Foundation.
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