2016 May 23

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Call took place May 23rd 11a PT / 2p ET / 7p GMT / 9p EAT
10 folk dialed in using Free Conference Call. We lost two folk's audio, both of whom are international.

These call-ins / check-ins are at their most basic a way to strengthen the connections across response organizations (traditional, digital, and otherwise), individuals, and projects. Some calls are focused or topical, but are always meant as open spaces for cross-sector and -organizational collaboration. Defined organizations, networks, and other ways of delineating and focusing response are absolutely necessary, but so too is a space external to that for emergent possibilities. This call is specifically focused on the blockchain.

Overview of how the call will work

  • Agenda (intros of up to 30 seconds about you and your group, then longer updates on deployments and organizational statuses, then wrap-up)
  • Note taking (we all take notes for each other)
  • Conversational asides, "please check out $THING," etc can be added by individual into that section of the notes
  • Time keeping (if you go over, you will first be poked via chat, and then verbally interrupted)
  • Participants have 48 hours to review the notes for editing, clarity, and omissions before posted to a public place.

Introductions (Who's here?)

30 seconds each : 5 minutes tops total : if you just spoke, take notes for the person who speaks after you.

Present and Vocal

Willow, Aspiration

  • Digital response ecosystem map
  • Humanitarian Technology Festival in Cambridge June 4th and 5th

Mark Iliffe, University of Nottingham

  • Dar es Salaam mapping. Baseline data for resilience initaitives. Dedicated to openness. http://ramanihuria.org/
  • Just got a phd! No idea what this means.
  • multi consortium legal setup

Christopher Brewster, TNO, The Netherlands - Christopher.Brewster@tno.nl

  • humanitarian response, getting back in touch.
  • mostly focused on food and agriculture and use of internet of things, big data, etc.
  • TNO has an ICT4D section but not much in humanitarian response.
  • Involved in the international G20 GODAN initiative. "Global Open Data for Agriculture and nutrition" initiative. Curious to see how response overlaps.

Ben Homer, switxboard | IPA

  • switxboard.net Link tech with response.
  • matchmaker between NGOs and governments - needs to technologies
  • iraq, kurdish region, jordan, special economic zones, how to create livelihood
  • Trying to figure out the real needs

Chelsea Barabas, MIT Digital Currency Initiative

  • Works at MIT Media Lab
  • Initiative to respond to growing interest in cryptocurrencies across MIT campus. Research initiative at core, interdisciplinary.
  • Specifically thinking about a research agenda about international work. Before here worked in International Dev, agriculture, etc. Very rural.
  • Here to talk about the block chain about development or response.

Mark Herringer, Healthsites.io

Devin, Sarapis

  • bank of mutual interest dot org. Art as a reserve, then issues artisianal cash recorded in an etherium ledger to the artists donating the art. Slowly but surely recruiting nonprofits. Previously only monetizing through auctions which creates undervalues art. Cryptocurrency notes to fund their work, operate to make the notes find the buyers.
  • inclusion of economic resilience into the lexicon of crises mitigation, resilience. we see over an dover with floods how economic instability leads to more disaster. programming around economic resilience

Lisa Rembos

  • research on innovation and how mobile can enable it. broadband via other devices.
  • limited connectivity, training human rights. experiences you've had etc.

Listening In / Technical Difficulties

  • Spike, Previously with CrisisCommons and various other initiatives. Currently mainly involved with Mozilla

Review of Last Call's Collaboration Set

10 minutes total, tops. We'd love to hear about progress on projects in the digital response space, especially if it involves two or more organizations represented on this call.


Aspiration's #HumTechFest strives to build capacity for humanitarian aid and disaster response efforts through technology and community. These are participatory and community-driven convenings designed for field practitioners, media makers and storytellers, technology developers, information security practitioners, members of affected populations, researchers, and everyone in between. The agenda is co-developed with participants, facilitators, and partners in the time leading up and during the event.

Discussion: the Blockchain. What is it, should we care?

20 minutes Instituaionl failings are much more prevelent in response: corruption, inefficiencies in banking systems. but it's also that folk have a high-level understanding of these problems (what they think it looks like) but once you get into the details of implementation things start to fall apart. One of the articles was really nice from teh start network. Institutional challenges for response. BlockChain might be particularly well suited for aid and relief because it's global, flexible to emergent situations. Decentralized tech for managing those structures would be helpful.

Can we first define what a blockchain is and how this might be uniquely helpful? Or the specific attributes?

reading list about known problems in disaster and humanitarian response which the blockchain is offering to address

What questions do folk have?

How is this not just going to further track people who are already precarious?
Connectivity - how would blockchain function in remote areas with low connectivity?
Design contraints in a shared record-keeping system that matches these needs.
How to communicate this to policy makers who have very limited technological knowledge?
technical mystique of blockchain will make policy maker take a hand-off approach. or hyper-optimism. find real bridge figures (like the folk in this call)
We're at incredible hype. Etherium got funded for $20M, the theDAO had $162M in last 26 days. The amount of money being thrown at this is phenomenal, which might be great for response?
Drawn to this space about structural change. Are there active steps we could take to make this practical AND hopeful? What is useful about this?
Super hype versus anti-hype. They're raising lots of money. the promise of the blockchain is to rewrite how finance and law work. But Caspar, which makes mattresses, raised XX$. It's nuts that Etherium raised close to 100mil. Everyone is raising outrageous amounts of money, let alone those who are directly challenging how banking works, how contracts work. We should remain balanced.
That technical literacy doesn't exist for policy makers who would be making those contracts. ?? is working with banks to change remittence times to seconds instead of days. Blockchains are being used within traditional banking to change transfer times -- they don't have to understand how the tech works in order to use it.

Let's keep this conversation going asynchronously. You can get in touch with Chelsea here, at: cbarabas@media.mit.edu

Project and Deployment Overviews

What is new, that hasn't been gone over yet? 15 minutes tops


Building a free, curated, canonical source of healthcare location data

healthsites.io is an open development initiative. Based on a bottom-up approach, it invites users to take ownership of information related to health-care facilities and support humanitarian organizations in addressing challenges. We crowdsource 10 healthsite attributes and make them available under an open license (ODbL)

The absence of freely accessible baseline health facility data constrains humanitarian responses as was demonstrated by the West African Ebola response. healthsites.io establishes this institutional sharing and collaboration through the publication of a top ten list of healthsite attributes under an open license.

  • Contact: mark@healthsites.io / @sharehealthdata
  • Need:Feedback
  • Need:health facility data

Digital response_ecosystem map

I don't know about you, but I feel like I spend a lot of my time even just describing the actors and flows between them for the response space with new comers and potential allies. I'd rather we were able to talk about how to improve things and fill gaps. So been having conversation swith Devin, Per, and Jennie about what such a map might look like, the factors involved, etc.

  • Contact: willow@aspirationtech.org
  • Need: Feedback on the structure itself -- does it make sense?
  • Need: Eventually, help in filling in various organizations, PLUS some time thinking together about where to collaborate. This will happen on May 31 at 9a PT / 12p ET. If you want to help out, please do so!

Legal consortium setup

Working in TZ to map Dar. Large consortium (Mark lists them and holy wow). He's trying to make this expand, institutionalize it. The challenges we have are local participation and coordination. Getting a will to engage locally. How do you set something like that up. Just want rambling pontifications on this.

  • Contact: Mark Iliffe
  • Feedback from group (please leave your contact somehow so folk can follow up with you, but know these notes end up in a public place).
    • Willow would be glad to talk with you about all this.

Urban Resilience in developed areas

Sahana is the largest open source management code base. Not much about blockchain in there. the blockchain in all this isn't so much the cryptocontract element, but more about local currency work taking place in the developing world. Local currencies with banking functions. What are the more complicated economic things that could be made available for local currencies? Regulatory hurdles to becoming a more sophisticated model. Can we build an asset-backed reserve? Pool art work and use a note off of that within a local community. Motivations are different.

  • Contact: Devin
  • Feedback from group (please leave your contact somehow so folk can follow up with you, but know these notes end up in a public place).
    • Blockchain is stretching our imagination so far as what we're doing. If the technology falls over, it's still pushing the envelope (like your example with the artwork). In that context we're thought about these alternative realities.
    • BanglaPesa project? Community-level alternative currency. Is digitizing that the thing we need to do?

Announcements and upcoming events

  • We now have a mailing list others are welcome to join. It will be for these sorts of calls, any discussion folk want to have specific to response but external to other official identities.
  • Notes up
  • Ecosystem mapping call on 31st
  • Blog post together about block chain? Yes +1!

Other Activities and Reflections on platform and process

Participants can have a running assessment of the platform and process in this area of the notes

We lost Mark H, Lisa. Technical issues?