Open sourcing disaster relief | May 2015 DSO Update

Open sourcing disaster relief | May 2015 DSO Update

DSO Team Sahana

By Eric, Lizzie, Rachel, Rochelle, and Tanu

At DSO, we strive to pursue project opportunities that enable us to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. Our hearts go out to all affected by the Nepal earthquake. We are grateful to work with a client who saves lives during a disaster and provides disaster preparedness and relief.

In this report, we will feature our project with Sahana Software Foundation and discuss DSO’s next steps.

Featured Project

DSO has the privilege of working with the Sahana Software Foundation on requirements for their open source disaster relief software, Sahana Eden. DSO is providing a user research study, human-centered analysis of the software’s existing functionality, and recommendations for future development of Eden’s web setup tool. This project is in collaboration with Stanford University, where students working on the project are also enrolled in a directed reading course (Urban Studies 197).

The Sahana Software Foundation helps organizations and communities prepare for and respond to disasters by providing open source information management tools. Eden, their major software product, is used by over 2,000 people in 25 countries, including Nepal, West Africa, Philippines and Timor-Leste. Eden has helped increase efficiency in disaster response coordination between governments, aid organizations, and survivors themselves. Within a few days of the Nepal earthquake, the Sahana community deployed an instance of Eden to provide a flexible solution for organizations and communities to respond to the earthquake: http://nepal.sahana.io/

DSO has been working with Sahana to better understand how different types of users manage disaster information, with the goal of making Eden easier to use out of the box. DSO evaluated existing functionality, created personas to represent a diverse set of disaster relief stakeholders, and conducted user interviews to verify these personas. By identifying and documenting the common requirements for different types of users, we are creating the groundwork for future development of a web-based setup tool for Eden, allowing users to deploy and customize the software more easily.

We have been regularly sharing our process and findings with the Sahana open source community on their wiki and mailing list. DSO’s human-centered approach takes into account the diverse needs of potential Sahana users.

Lizzie and Tanu have been leading the project and in the process, building a good rapport with the Sahana community over the course of the engagement. DSO may potentially work with the Sahana Software Foundation again in the future on another project.

A Testimonial from the CEO

*“The DSO team reached out to the Sahana Software Foundation to offer their voluntary services to help us with some design challenges we’ve been facing. We worked together collaboratively to scope out a suitable project for them to work on. They have brought a professional rigor to the challenge, fully documenting the project from end to end, getting right into the details of evaluating the outputs. They are utilizing a number of design methodologies which will bring fresh insight to our project. The DSO team have been flexible with adapting to the various technology collaboration platforms used by the Sahana community, independently engaging with a diverse range of our stakeholders and overcoming some difficult challenges.”* 

- Michael 

What’s next for DSO?

Over the next two months, our teams will finish this year’s engagements with their clients, get feedback on client and each teammates’ project experience, assess project impact, and extract as well as share best practices. Over the summer, we will assess our impact as an organization, engage with potential clients, and scope projects for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Thank You! With your support, we are able to work with high impact clients, learn, and grow as an organization. 

DSO Team Sahana Work Session

DSO Team Sahana Work Session

See Also

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