[iDC] The Open Solace Video Project

Kendra Kellogg kendrakellogg at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 24 03:26:48 UTC 2010

Hi Johan,

I attended a CrisisCamp in Boulder today to go over a few projects. I will
cover what we were told from Haiti regarding the communications employed by
Haitians as of now. I think your project is a key ingredient.  Enabling
Hatians to tell their own story is important to identity, healing and
national identity. You are on a good right path - non-tech solutions are
needed to a get more individual communications out of Haiti. Volunteers will
have to interpret them into a technical format. 

Communications status in Haiti:

SMS, mobile phones (voice only) and two radio stations are functioning -
that is all you can rely on. Radio is what is holding the community together
right now. Access to these is also a communal effort. Many lost their phones
and electronic devices during the earthquakes.  This is making any ability
for geo-location tough as the phone may not be in the hands of its owner.

An important note is that Smart Phones were not common to the general
population before the earthquake. It is only the elite class (10% of the
population) that had widespread access to rich media. Ushahidi overcame this
hurdle with a short code for SMS messages for their crisis mapping.
Frontline SMS is also working on the ground - this is commonly used for
internal communications by humanitarian NGO's.  

Internet is down.

What is critical to understand is that the vast majority of Haiti's
population lives on less than two dollars a day. Haiti's wealth is
concentrated into the upper class, and there is a sharp wealth disparity.
60% do not have clean drinking water, and Kerosene is common for light to
cut electricity cost. For the majority of the population, radios and basic
mobile phones are the only economic probability. Television is often
communal. The literacy rate is low - so letters and written communication
were also family or communal efforts.     

Google Voice is offering free phone calls to Haiti for family members for
two weeks.

Kendra Kellogg

E-Advocate Network.




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