From December 4 -10, 2014, Humanity Road’s virtual volunteer team was engaged in an online disaster response for Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby). The typhoon, initially classified as a Category 5 super typhoon on December 3, made landfall on December 6 in Eastern Samar, which is a province of the Philippines located in the eastern portion of the island of Samar. The typhoon swept through the same regions devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) just over one year before in 2013.
Humanity Road activated to support the local population in the Philippines and to support the Digital Humanitarian Network’s (DHN’s) activation requested by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Three types of reports were published on Humanity Road’s website: Situation Reports, Regional Situation Reports and a 3W Report. The Situation Reports and Regional Situation Reports were submitted to ReliefWeb and the US Department of Defense All Partners Access Network (APAN). The 3W Report is a tool to assist in the coordination of organizations and activities and is conceptually based on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Who What Where 3W Database. The Report is intended to provide information regarding which entities (Who) are involved in carrying out activities (What) and the locations where the entity’s activities are taking place (Where).
During the activation, we partnered with Young Pioneers Disaster Response (YPDR), headquartered in Cebu, Philippines, to assist in the determination of unmet needs for a community that had suffered damages but had not yet received any assistance. We also collaborated with GISCorps for the first time to create a Typhoon Hagupit Map Sampling Report. Additionally, the publication of our reports on APAN contributed to Humanity Road being invited to all of Pacific Endeavor’s 2015 planning events.
Humanity Road’s primary objectives during the activation were to:
- Amplify official information to help the public survive, sustain, and reunite;
- Search for impacts and urgent needs using data mining of the Internet and social media;
- Connect urgent needs cases with relief organizations that could help.
Our secondary objectives were to:
- Improve our disaster response procedures by introducing new volunteer role titles based on the Incident Command System (ICS);
- Improve data mining and reporting by better delineating tasks;
- Publish reports in a timely manner.
An After Action Survey was distributed to all Humanity Road volunteers who participated in the response. These results, as well as “lessons learned”? comments posted in our online Event Workbook used during the response, were gathered and analyzed to determine how well we met our objectives and where we need to improve.
Humanity Road’s key strengths during the response to this event included:
- An improvement overall in the organization’s coordination and preparation to carry out a response;
- An increase in the efficiency of reporting;
- New job titles introduced during the event were easy to understand;
- The delineation of our goals and tasks has improved.
Areas for improvement based on the response to this event included:
- Gaps in training;
- A need for consistent formatting in filling out Situation Reports;
- Better communication between event leaders;
- More enhanced social media coverage overall.
In response to the survey feedback and documentation during our activation, our protocols are being improved and new training is being created. Continually improving disaster response procedures through lessons learned and the incorporation of best practices will enable the organization to become more effective in helping people affected by disasters.
We are thankful to the 18 volunteers who participated in the response and those who responded with after action recommendations and lessons learned. We are also grateful for partners YPDR and GISCorps for assisting us, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.