We’re in the UN Volunteering newsletter

During our Nepal deployment, a group of 14 UN Online Volunteers joined us. The experiences of two of them have just been published in the UN Volunteering newsletter. It’s a great article. Thanks to all the UN Volunteers who helped out.

End of our deployment for Federated States of Micronesia

Our work to support Young Pioneer Disaster Response in their deployment to the Federated States of Micronesia is at an end.

We started with a focus on Information Management and we moved on to produce some rather excellent maps.

Both of these sets of resources will really help YPDR be more efficient and effective on the ground in FSM.

It’s been fascinating work. Internet use across the FSM is very low and so you might imagine that there would not be that much information available online. But there is a huge wealth of information available, if you hunt around and use a little imagination and skill.

Joyce and Nick and I would like to thank every single one of the volunteers who worked so hard on this project. Standby Task Force is a friendly and task focused network and so it is no surprise that everyone on this deployment worked well together, supported each other and had a good time.

It’s no surprise but it’s worth mentioning. You are amazing people who choose to donate your time and skills to help people in need across the globe. This is unglamourous, undramatic and incredibly useful work.

Thank you to each and every one of you.

Coordinators are absolutely key to successful deployments and so all our coordinators must take credit for the great success of this deployment. Thank you Valeria Villan, Michal Bodnar, Liz Duffell and Steven Boyd.

Standby Task Force, once again, has proved what an amazing force digital humanitarians really are.

Stand by.

Update #3 on FSM/TC Maysak and call for volunteers

We’re in the final stretch now.

Our deployment ends 22:00 UTC today, June 26 2015.

56 volunteers have signed up and, in that distinctive SBTF way, we have got to know the Federated States of Micronesia from a distance. We know the different names for the same islands, the area telephone codes for Chuuk and Yap and the populations of different settlements across the two states we are focused on. We know the locations of churches, airports and shipping companies. We know where to find accommodation, construction companies and mobile phone signals.

Information management

We have built an impressive resource that should help YPDR understand the culture, economy, the terrain, society and logistics of the affected states of FSM. Between now and the end of the deployment we need to focus on processing some of the databases we have found (like the white pages) to pull out the information that is relevant to YPDR.

At the current rate of progress we probably don’t need any new volunteers to help with that task: but if you are signed up, we still need you to focus on these tasks right up until the end.


We have a small GIS team up and running. We’d like to create some printable maps highlighting some of the key points to help YPDR on the ground, especially issues around sea navigation.

We could do with new volunteers with GIS skills to join to help with that task.

If you have GIS skills and are available between now and 22:00 hrs UTC please sign up.

Update #2 on FSM/TC Maysak and call for volunteers

When you have been away from the deployment for a while (because you have been asleep for example) you read back through the Skype chat window to see what was happening while you were out. This is a great thing to do because there is a regular list of new people joining the deployment, people returning and new things being found.

When you are actually working on collecting the data you can miss all this. It can be frustrating as you hunt around to find any more information on a possible construction company (like I did last night) and turn up nothing. It can feel like you are making very slow progress indeed.

But the great thing about the Standby Task Force is that you are not alone. You are part of a team. As a team we are making great progress. The picture we are building up of the affected states of FSM is really rich and useful and more information is pulled out every hour.

One of the great things about the team is the wide range of skills and perspectives. We have people who know the pacific islands well and people who have never travelled there. We have people who can transform polygons to shapefiles and back again and people (like me) who would not know one end of a polygon from another. We have people who have worked on many deployments over years and people joining their first deployments. And this diversity is our real strength. There is always someone who knows how to do the task you need doing. There is always someone who can take a fresh look at a something you are searching for. There is always someone who can help.

We asked Nick Brown from YPDR (he’s also a SBTF volunteer) to give us a sense of how your work will be used.

He said:

“The research work that the volunteers of the Standby Task Force have done is extremely impressive and humbling. With their skills and networks, they’ve been able to find information we would never have found without them.”

“The research and mapping work done by the Standby Task Force is invaluable to our team in the field who is focused on distributing aid where it is needed most. The work of Standby Task Force’s volunteers allows us to focus on getting the job done.”

“The volunteers of the Standby Task Force have found countless sources of hard to find information that we didn’t know existed. Their support is helping the team in the field be as efficient and effective as possible.”

Our deployment ends 22:00 UTC on June 26 2015. There is still plenty of work to do.

It’s a great deployment to join if you’re quite new to SBTF. We have a training room for new volunteers and a bunch of very helpful experienced volunteers here to help and support you.

Sign up for the deployment here

Any questions, contact Joyce or Ben from the core team.

joyce@standbytaskforce.com , ben@standbytaskforce.com or coreteam@standbytaskforce.com

Or just ask in the general Skype chat room.

Update #1 on FSM/Typhoon Maysak and call for volunteers

Every deployment brings its own challenges and its own.

In Nepal, for example, there was the incredible urgency to get information processed as quickly as possible combined with managing hundreds of volunteers within SBTF and in other groups.

In FSM the challenge is tracking information down. It’s a small, very remote country. Finding even basic information (like population figures per island) is a real piece of detective work, following leads from one document to another. Many volunteers have been doing the online equivalent of searching for needles in haystacks.

What unites these deployments of course is that fact that there are real human beings affected by natural disasters. In FSM some of the affected municipalities lost 100% of of their buildings. All their houses have been lost.

Our task is to help YPDR make sure they can get to the affected communities and start work as quickly as possible.

Despite the paucity of information out there volunteers have already tracked down a wide range of resources that are going to really help get things moving on the ground. And we’ve only been running for 24hrs.

If you haven’t signed up yet, please do. There is plenty of useful work to be done. We could do with some people with mapping / geolocation skills along with media monitoring and search skills.

It’s a great deployment to join if you’re quite new to SBTF. We have a training room for new volunteers and a bunch of very helpful experienced volunteers here to help and support you.


Our deployment to support humanitarian assistance to FSM has now begun

As of 09:00 June 23 2015 UTC Standby Task Force has been activated.

You can read more about the background to this deployment.

We are providing assistance to YPDR from the Philippines.

We will be searching for maps and satellite imagery, media sources, locally based social media accounts, resources on local languages and culture, logistics companies, cell towers, radio operators and other similar resources.

There’s been a great response from volunteers signing up already but we need more help now. Please sign up and we’ll add you to the deployment chat room on Skype.


Deployment to support the Federated States of Micronesia starts 0900 UTC 23 June 2015

Background to this deployment

Between March 28 2015 and – April 1 2015 a Category Five storm: Typhoon Maysak hit two states in the FSM.

The Governors of both states declared states of emergencies shortly afterwards, the president of the Federated States of Micronesia issued a Presidential emergency declaration for both locations. President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Disaster Declaration on April 28 2015 (FSM has a very close relationship with the United States of America and has entered into a Compact of Free Association with the United States).

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has asked Young Pioneer Disaster Response (YPDR) from the Philippines to travel to the affected states of FSM to support aid distribution logistics for the International Organization for Migration and develop a more comprehensive reconstruction program over the next 18 months, with a focus on shelter.

YPDR has asked for support from the Standby Task Force. In particular they need help with information management. They need our help to build a better picture of the situation in FSM and to track down resources that will help the YPDR team on the ground.

The core team has assessed this request, it meets our criteria and so we are activating the Standby Task Force.

The deployment will commence 0900 UTC on 23 June 2015 and will end at 2200 UTC on 26 June 2015.

Please sign up now

We need as many volunteers as possible to join the deployment. Please sign up now. There will be a range of tasks. The majority of the tasks will be research and information management rather than geolocation. Full instructions will be given.

Once you sign up you will be added to the deployment Skype room where you will be warmly greeted by the deployment coordinators and given instructions

Sign up here

The sign-up link is on the deployment page on the Standby Task Force Ning.


If you are not a member of Standby Task Force why not sign up now.

For more information contact

Joyce Monsees skype:joyce.monsees joyce@standbytaskforce.com


Ben Proctor skype:likeaword ben@standbytaskforce.com


Don’t forget to check out the latest update for Standby Task Force volunteers