Agile responses, long-term commitments
For decades, IBM has responded to major disasters and significant crises in the communities in which we live, work and do business. Today, our responses integrate advanced technologies with the expertise of IBMers around the world who have the desire and training to serve. We deliver essential components of what it takes for affected areas and individuals to regroup, rebuild and recover — including solutions to gather and share data about affected populations, relief efforts and the deployment of technologies. IBMers also manage the rollout of technology solutions to help regions or even countries get back on track. And we remain engaged for months or years after an event to help with recovery.
The visceral nature of how Ebola runs its course, and the practices that enabled its rapid spread across impoverished regions of sub-Saharan Africa, made the disease a source of daily terror among those directly affected and a larger-than-life threat in the consciousness of the global community. Inadequate health care infrastructure, lack of verifiable data and an extreme scarcity of medical personnel raised Ebola’s mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa to levels unimaginable in more affluent parts of the world. IBM responded to the crisis through an orchestration of partnerships, a deployment of advanced technologies and the acceleration of groundbreaking research to find a cure.
Working with Sierra Leone’s Open Government Initiative, Cambridge University, Airtel, and Kenya’s Echo Mobile, the IBM Research lab in Nairobi developed an SMS/toll-free communications channel to collect and share information and enable the creation of targeted communications. Meanwhile, IBMers around the world took, and continue to take, a leading role in the creation of an Ebola Open Data Repository, which uses IBM SoftLayer® cloud technology to host Ebola-relevant data sets with the aim of providing governments, aid agencies and researchers free and open access to globally contributed data related to the disease. These projects were enabled by an IBM Impact Grant, and facilitated by access to World Community Grid. At the time of the writing of this report, the government of Sierra Leone had leveraged the repository and launched its own Open Data Portal with IBM’s help. Also hosted in IBM SoftLayer, Sierra Leone’s Open Data Portal has an initial focus on Ebola-related data.
“After taking a proactive and aggressive position in the fight against Ebola, Nigeria was declared free of the disease. Essential to Lagos State's preparedness for future outbreaks is IBM's donation of Connections technology to the Lagos State Government. Our Ebola Operations Center coordinates disease containment efforts across the state, and with Connections we showed how this coordination is critical to our continued ability to manage and respond to new reported cases of Ebola. IBM Connections technology provides our health workers and administrators with a reliable and secure digital platform for collaboration and information sharing — including via mobile devices. This technology will play a key role in enabling us to keep Nigeria Ebola-free.”
Dr. Jide Idris, commissioner for health, Lagos State, Nigeria
Nigeria led the region in deploying best practices in the fight against Ebola, and was declared free of the disease. Our donation of IBM Connections technology to Nigeria’s Lagos State Government is supporting the country’s preparedness against future outbreaks, while IBM’s World Community Grid is aggregating donated unused computing power to drive the Scripps Research Institute’s computation-intensive search for a cure.
Responding to overwhelming devastation
In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda) slammed into the Philippines with record-breaking force. With sustained winds of 195 miles per hour, and 235-mph gusts, Haiyan was — and remains — the strongest storm ever recorded at landfall. In its wake, more than 670,000 Filipinos lost their homes or were displaced, and more than 6,300 lost their lives.
The Philippine government is among the world’s most experienced in handling natural disasters, but the scale of Haiyan’s extreme weather was too much for even it to manage alone. The government’s emergency management efforts saved countless lives by acting quickly to move more than 500,000 people out of the path of the storm. But the surge after the storm destroyed infrastructure across vast areas. With nearly 12 percent of Filipinos directly affected by Haiyan, authorities were hobbled by the storm’s after-effects as they sought to gather and act upon data from the field.
“Building on a trusted, long-term relationship between IBM and our national government, IBM acted quickly to mobilize and launch an Impact Grant with two critical solutions: an Intelligent Operations Center for Emergency Management, and an Integrated Communications System. IBM’s grant comes with two years of support, including an IBM-led transition team. This will ensure that we have the skills and expertise needed to fully maximize the power of this new technology to make Filipinos safer and more resilient to hazards such as Haiyan.”
Mario Montejo, secretary, Philippine Department of Science and Technology
Information technology can’t stop the rain, but the intelligent collection and use of data can help governments and others plan proactively for disasters and mitigate their impact. The Philippine Department of Science and Technology began working with IBM in 2013 to launch an integrated disaster management solution, starting with the IBM Intelligent Operations Center platform for disaster management and augmented with RadioConnect for Sametime technology from UnifiedEdge, and Touch Assisted Command and Control System software from Priority 5 Holdings. This means that the various systems supplying data on extreme weather and emergency management efforts now can be integrated into a dashboard that lets responders analyze the information and deploy the right resources at the right time — keeping the Philippines’ lifesaving disaster recovery efforts up and running.
Maintaining partnerships for the long haul
The devastating Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster of 2011 may have faded from the headlines, but IBM’s commitment to Japan’s recovery remains strong. In the immediate aftermath of the crisis, IBM technology helped match aid supplies with demand and was essential to communications and local government management efforts. Four years later, IBM is still on the ground with Teachers TryScience education tools and indoor play initiatives, and support of private markets and food distribution in the workplace. In addition, a 2013 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge engagement in Date helped civic leaders develop strategies to rethink the future of an agricultural industry confronting real and perceived issues of radioactive contamination, and to plan for overall economic sustainability and growth. This work continued through 2014 and is ongoing.
The Nepal earthquake crisis
On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal and surrounding areas. As of June 2015, the disaster had killed more than 8,000 people, injured more than 14,000 and affected more than eight million. Subsequent tremors increased the destruction and death and injury tolls even further. Immediately following the initial earthquake, an IBM India team joined Indian government officials in Nepal to assess technical and support needs. The team worked with Indian and Nepalese officials to determine options and immediately implement technology and business process solutions to speed recovery.