Sunday, September 04, 2005

Coordinating Katrina Survivor Information

We've joined a team of developers and an army of volunteers to help organize and consolidate information related to hurricane survivors. David Geilhufe sent out this very useful e-mail outlining the various efforts in progress, asking to pass-on the information. So I'm doing just that. Feel free to copy/paste what's below and e-mail it to as many people as you can. update 9/12: duh, i just realized i had messed-up the links. sorry about that. fixed.


Refugees can search 20 web sites for lost relatives and still miss their entry on the 21st web site. There is a need to combine all the refugee data from big databases like Red Cross, large posting forums like Craigslist and many other sources on the web. The Katrina PeopleFinder Project seeks to create a single repository combining as many sources of refugee data as possible from all over the web without interrupting existing momentum.

We need help for both regular people and software engineers. Everybody is critical to building a central repository of ALL the refugee records we can find on the web. The Social Source Foundation, CivicSpace Labs and Foundation are coordinating hundreds of people and organizations, including Craigslist and Earthlink.

Please consider giving us just an hour of you your time to do volunteer data entry. The PeopleFinder Project is seeking volunteers in four primary areas:

(1) Creating a technology specification for easily exchanging refugee information. A volunteer effort is working to assist online databases in implementing the specification.
Volunteer here (techies):

(2) Coordinating volunteers that are writing software that takes information from online databases and putting it into a central database provided by Foundation.
Volunteer here (software engineers):

(3) Organizing a massively parallel volunteer data entry project to enter refugee data posted to online bullitin boards into a central database by hand.
Volunteer here (regular people):

(4) Market the Katrina PeopleFinder Project and recruit volunteers.
Volunteer here (marketing folks):
Josh and Scott updated today with key building blocks for interoperability with the other sites, testing is still underway.

Additionally, I'm trying to get my hands on a Google Search Appliance, which I want to point at some or all of the Survivor Search Sites and Forums listed here. But those are typically hard to come-by.

There's a lot of very valuable unstructured information in many ad-hoc forums put-up by industrious developers. Volunteers are already working around the clock to get the information in a structured database (see above). Having a search appliance should add a very effective fall-back/catch-up layer: One "free-form" search box, with access to both structured and unstructured data.

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