[iDC] The Open Solace Video Project

Ivan Sigal ivan.sigal at gmail.com
Sun Jan 24 15:10:47 UTC 2010

Hi all,

There are a number of other projects in the works to help ensure that  
Haitians have input into the response and relief efforts, and  
eventually, into reconstruction, that Haitians have the communications  
and broadcast infrastructure to communicate at home and that Haitian  
voices are amplified and available to the world, rather. Of course on  
the comms side the ISPs, the cell phone companies, and both bilateral  
and multilateral assistance is quite extensive. On the broadcast and  
humanitarian information side, the largest is probably run by  
Internews, which is the coordinating agency for humanitarian  
information to UNOCHA for this crisis, and is working with a network  
of community radio stations around Haiti - some 30 I believe. The  
focus of that project is information for Haitians, by Haitians.


My organization, Global Voices, has a special coverage page following  
and amplifying the citizen media perspective. We also have several  
staff in Haiti working to ensure that the citizen media perspective  
can be integrated into other information streams.


A good place to look for more information is the CDAC ning website: http://crisescomm.ning.com/

ThomsonReuters, the BBC, and a number of other organizations are also  
intending or already working on projects in Haiti. BBC has a new  
Creole service, just launched:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8475381.stm

Varying reports on cell phone and Internet.

Internet: all three ISPs are up and running, and were not seriously  
incapacitated - hence the proliferation of tweeting and blogs  
immediately after the quake. I understand that the ISPs actually have  
excess capacity at the moment. One significant challenge is fuel. Both  
ISPs and cell networks had redundant systems (generators mostly) at  
their transmission facilities because electricity was always spotty.

Cell phone networks had significant problems in the early days  
ensuring flow of power to their towers, I understand. They claim to be  
returning to normal capacity. Four days ago Digicell claimed it was  
back to 80% capacity, for example.



Ivan Sigal
Executive Director, Global Voices
i.sigal at globalvoicesonline.org l +1 202 361 2712

On Jan 23, 2010, at 10:26 PM, Kendra Kellogg wrote:

> 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.
> @eadvocate
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