The UN Dispatch highlights the Standby Task Force

The UN Dispatch is blog from the United Nations Foundation. Their posts inform readers worldwide of global initiatives, important topics and the latest news in the humanitarian field. Their latest post features the Standby Task Force!

This January 2015 issue, titled “10 Stories That Will Drive the Global Agenda in 2015” spotlights the effectiveness of crisismapping and the innovative technologies used to collect and organize data. Look at article number 10. Your efforts continue to be recognized and respected.

We applaud all of our volunteers for their dedication to humanitarian aid and our goal to help those who have been the victims of disasters or crises. Thank you

SBTF Nominated for UK Women in IT Awards 2015 – Corrected

The Standby Task Force has been shortlisted for the United Kingdom Women in IT Awards 2015, an award that recognizes the outstanding innovation achieved by women in the IT industry. SBTF has been nominated under the category Advocate of the Year. The Advocate of the Year award is given to a technology company that has gone out of its way to support the cause of getting more women in IT in the last 18 months. Judges assess companies by examining the women led IT initiatives the candidates have pioneered as well as their impact on and integration with, the business.

Justine Mackinnon, has served the Standby Task Force since 2011 and has been President since December 2013 and has actively worked to ensure that women take an equal lead role in charting the way forward during this exciting time for our young organization. Under her leadership, the Standby Task Force has provided critical support to ongoing humanitarian crisis around the world; building on the collective organizational experience of 40+ deployments. Her central role in the early days of the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa providing information and communication coordination helped lay the foundation for a cooperative multilateral response effort under the Inter-Agency IM Working Group.

It is extremely exciting that Standby Task Force and Justine have been short-listed for this prestigious and premier award for women in the IT sector in the United Kingdom. This recognition comes on the heels of a successful deployment to support UNOCHA humanitarian relief to communities in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Hagupit [Ruby]. There is always more work to be done toward improving the services we provide to individuals, first responders and our partner agencies. It speaks to the dedication of our volunteers and the entire membership network that we have received this recognition.

The Women in IT Awards 2015 will announce finalists on 29 January 2015 at a dinner award ceremony being held at the Grosvenor House on Park Lane in London. There are over 50 short listed individuals and organizations up for awards in 12 unique categories. We at SBTF are thrilled to be counted in that number and look forward to learning more about all of the dynamic initiatives, like ours, who have made it to this final round of selection. For a full list of short-listed candidates please visit this site. For more information on the individual awards, judges and event particulars please visit the official event site here..

Thanks again to our all our members, truly well done your hard work is being recognized!

MicroMappers: Towards Next Generation Humanitarian Technology


Check out this great piece on some big things happening in the digital humanitarian community. Each response is an opportunity to identify our best practices, hone our tools and enhance our capacity. Standby Task Force is honored and excited to be at the forefront of these developments.

Originally posted on iRevolutions:

The MicroMappers platform has come a long way and still has a ways to go. Our vision for MicroMappers is simple: combine human computing (smart crowd-sourcing) with machine computing (artificial intelligence) to filter, fuse and map a variety of different data types such as text, photo, video and satellite/aerial imagery. To do this, we have created a collection of “Clickers” for MicroMappers. Clickers are simply web-based crowdsourcing apps used to make sense of “Big Data”. The “Text Cicker” is used to filter tweets & SMS’s; “Photo Clicker” to filter photos; “Video Clicker” to filter videos and yes the Satellite & Aerial Clickers to filter both satellite and aerial imagery. These are the “Data Clickers”. We also have a collection of “Geo Clickers” that digital volunteers use to geo-tag tweets, photos and videos filtered by the “Data Clickers”. Note that these “Geo Clickers” automatically display the results of the crowdsourced geo-tagging on our Micro-Maps like the one below.

MM Ruby Tweet Map


View original 1,041 more words

Activation for Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) Completed

The Standby Task Force has officially completed our Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) activation for Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby as of 10:30 UTC Wednesday December 10th, 2014.

We would like to convey our thanks to all our volunteers, partner organizations and the agencies that joined us in the collaborative Skype window. Every activation on which we engage provides an opportunity for service to disaster affected communities while also allowing us to identify the technologies and processes that work best in managing the flow of information in a large scale humanitarian response.

We have received the following notification from Catherine Lefebvre:


First of all, I would like to thank all the volunteers of the SBTF for their invaluable contribution over the past few days.

We are lucky that Hagupit made less damages than expected and that the emergency quickly scaled down. Now the situation is pretty much under control, we can de-activate the DHNetwork.

Many many thanks again for your contribution and assistance.

With kind regards,

Catherine Lefebvre

Head of Information Management Unit

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Philippines


The maps produced by SBTF are available to view here. For information on our tools you can view this info-graphic to get an idea of what Mircomappers in Action looks like. Preliminary results from the Mircomappers platform are available on their website.

Thank you everyone for giving your time and sharing your skills to complete the activation request in such a timely and professional manner. We will be sending out a survey shortly to get your feedback on the activation. Keep an eye out for a blog post shortly detailing how much information and figures on the results of your efforts and how this information was provided to relief workers providing relief services to affected communities.

On behalf of the team at Standby Task Force, have a safe and happy Christmas [if you celebrate], enjoy the coming New Year celebration and we look forward to more collaboration in a hopefully much-less disaster prone 2015.

 Screenshot 2014-12-10 10.44.03Screenshot 2014-12-10 10.44.14

Activation for Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) -Update

Nearly 13,000 houses were crushed and more than 22,000 damaged on the eastern island of Samar, where Typhoon Hagupit made landfall on Saturday, December 6, 2014 (

Monitoring of Typhoon Hagupit and preparing AIDR to collect tweets using defined hashtags began on Tuesday, December 2, 2014. The activation in response to Typhoon Hagupit began for us on Friday December 5th, 2014.

To assist the relief work on the ground, Standby Task Force and a number of other digital organizations have engaged volunteers to collect relevant information from social media and other sources. We have had incredible support from our volunteers [veterans and newbies] and our partner organizations. Here are a few links to visit to see some of the products we have produced to date.

Standby Task Force collaborated with Rappler and Project Argos during this deployment and our volunteers have been supporting their Alert Map. This collaboration has identified another critical response partner in the work we do. SBTF  would like to thank, Zak Yuson, and his team for all their support. SBTF looks forward to working with the Rappler team in future deployments. A media article covering this collaboration is available here. Project Agos was able to document at least 260 crowdsourced data (via alert maps) on evacuation centers, cyclone path, status of media outlets (radio and TV) and ongoing relief operations.

In the past three days nearly 400 messages have been manually sourced and geolocated from Twitter. Volunteers have identified actionable information from another 60 Facebook posts, that enabled us to point relief workers to 26 roadblocks in affected areas. This information ensures that populations needing critical emergency relief are able to be reached.

Over the years SBTF has been activated by UN-OCHA on a number of occasions. We are pleased to continue to support their efforts on the ground through our quality informatics and crisis communications work. Caroline Bannock, highlighted these efforts in her report on the Guardian Online published today. This coverage can be found here.  The work of the different communities engaged in information harvest, categorization and geolocation during the last days are surely recognized.

Quote from the latest SitRep from UN OCHA:

  • “The Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) and the MicroMappers continue to provide real-time updates on the impact of the typhoon. The result can be viewed in these links: and Hundreds of Standby Task Force Volunteers (SBTF) across the globe, as well as the Rappler team and the Project Agos volunteers in the Philippines, continue to crowdsource information via social media such as Facebook and Twitter.”

We continued testing AIDR and the MicroMappers platform, the results have been positive so far. There will be an update on their performance published on Patrick Meier’s Blog Irevolution at a later date.

Thanks again to our incredibly dedicated network of global volunteers. We have had immense support from diverse communities including engagement with many in the Philippine Diaspora and individuals on the ground. We would especially like to thank MicroMappers, Qatar Computer Research Institute (QCRI) and also GISCorps for supporting us with extra volunteers.  It has been our pleasure hosting them.

We are still accepting volunteers for this deployment which is currently scheduled to last through Wednesday, December 10th, 2014. If you have time to join, use this link to sign up.

SBTF Calls for Filipino Diaspora support on Typhoon Hagupit | Ruby

Are you in the Philippines or part of the Filipino Diaspora?

The Standby Task Force needs your help to identify, report and locate critical issues for rescuers and relief workers. We are looking for are short and actionable bits of information that can point government agencies, humanitarian organization and volunteers to individuals and communities in need.

How can you get this information to us?

Easy, if you know of a blocked road you can tweet us directly @SBTaskForce or using the hashtag #SBTF with the relevant information included.

What type of information is important?

Road closures

Downed power lines

Trapped people

Building collapses

Requests for help/needs

Evacuations needed/completed

Food/Water aid needed/provided

[In specific we are interested in information that falls into any of the following three categories (1) Requests for Help/Needs; (2) Humanitarian Aid Provided; (3) Infrastructure Damage

For example:

Street, village name. No water available. #SBTF

Street/village name. 4 people trapped #SBTF

Road/Town. Road blocked by landslide. Pic #SBTF]

Anyone can help us with these efforts, however if you have first hand knowledge of the locations affected we need your support in particular. Are you in the Filipino Diaspora and still have family on the ground? Do you know anyone currently stationed in the Philippines? If you have a few minutes or even a couple hours we can use your direct support.

Have a question on our needs? Shoot us a Direct Message @SBTaskForce or email Thanks for taking the time to volunteer and support these critical relief efforts.

Not yet a member? Find out how here: Have a bit more time to volunteer and interested in officially signing up to provide continued support on this deployment in particular? Review the information on this site, sign-up and we will be in-touch:

For regular updates please visit us at any of the following:




You Can Help the Victims of Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit)

Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) made landfall in the Philippines. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Manila has activated the Digital Humanitarian Network. Standby Task Force have deployed and are responding. We are using MicroMappers Clickers to augment their important damage and needs assessments on the ground. Our mission is to identify tweets that refer to urgent needs, infrastructure damage and humanitarian aid. We’ve also been asked by the UN to identify pictures posted on Twitter that show disaster damage. This is exactly the same request we received in response to Typhoon Haiyan last year. Anyone who has an Internet connection and speaks some English can join this digital humanitarian effort. You don’t need prior experience or super-hero skills to be a Digital Humanitarian (also known as a Digital Jedi).

You will find links to the Clickers here: MicroMappers


The platform is still under development, however, so we thank you for your patience and understanding if not everything is as perfect as we’d like. We’ve included a link in each Clicker tutorial to a feedback form where you can let us know how to improve the Clickers.

Please note: the Clickers may at times be out of tweets and/or pictures, in which case you’ll see the message “100% completed”. If you do see this message, this means we’re busy uploading new tweets/pictures to the Clickers. Simply give us a bit of time as we upload new tweets/clickers and check in again later.

And that’s all there is to it. Thank you very much for your time and goodwill!