Using social and web technologies in disaster responses

h4d2 Aston

3 September 2012

Developing software and solutions to real-world problems was the aim of the h4d2 hackathon event held at Aston University.

Emergency experts and software developers from across Europe attended the two day event, which was designed to investigate the use of social media and web technologies in disaster responses.

Recent disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan have highlighted how social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Ushahidi) and Web 2.0 technologies as well as the increasing availability of publicly available structured data are beginning to affect all aspects of disaster management.

The Conference explored a range of areas, including how to best make relevant data easily accessible to key personnel and the use of online street maps in emergencies.

Speakers at the Conference included representatives from the United Nations; the Standby Task Force, the Sahana Foundation and the Hexayurt project.

National fire-services and the World Bank were also among the key industry experts in attendance, with direct experience of handling disaster situations.

Dr Christopher Brewster, Principal Investigator of Disaster 2.0, said:  “h4d2 proved an excellent opportunity for emergency management experts and software developers to collaborate and develop solutions that will have practical benefits for disaster responses.   I would like to thank the European Commission for their financial support which has enabled us to hold h4d2.” 

H4d2 was held as part of the Disaster 2.0 project exploring how governments across Europe currently and can potentially use Web 2.0 applications and Semantic Technologies in disaster response. A second Hackathon for Disaster Response will be held in April 2013.  

Videos of the presentations are available on the h4d2 website

For further media information please contact Eva Tabora Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4294

Notes to Editors

The H4d2 is a €950,000 project funded by the ‘Prevention, preparedness and consequence management of terrorism and other security-related risks’ programme, European Commission – Directorate-Home Affairs (HOME/2010/CIPS/AG/002), Aston University and The University of Warwick.

Hackathons bring together problem solvers, developers/hackers and field experts to work intensively over a weekend to solve problems – which are normally outside the abilities and capabilities of disaster responders, but which respond well to collaborative work with likeminded socially engaged individuals.