The mission of the Standby Task Force is to provide volunteer online digital responses to humanitarian crises, local emergencies, and issues of local or global concern.
The Standby Task Force was founded in October 2010 to support the information management needs of formal humanitarian organizations. At the time, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap and SBTF were the only operational digital humanitarian networks. The SBTF primarily worked with the Ushahidi platform, manually entering and verifying the information.
Here is how Patrick Meier presented the work we do at TEDx Zürich in 2011:
Changing the World… One Map at a Time
Today the network of Volunteer Technical Communities (VTCs) has expanded dramatically, and both NGOs and IGOs have entered the stage. There are numerous projects and research going on to investigate the use of social media, satellite imagery, big data and UAVs for disaster response, democracy building or society resiliance.
The community of volunteer networks is growing and a number of them are organized in the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN), a network of specialized groups that can formally be activated and connected. Members of the SBTF can be found participating in many of these groups as individuals.
In this landscape the Standby Task Force is one of the largest volunteer networks, engaging with major stakeholders in the field. But we also work with smaller, localized groups on specific projects.
The SBTF is able to draw on the latest technologies available, such as MicroMappers, AIDR (Artificial Intelligence Disaster Response) and other open source solutions. With the aim being to streamline and scale social media monitoring, and provide Verification, Geo-Location and Analysis to ensure the highest possible standard on the information gathered for our collaborating organizations.
The SBTF is a fully volunteer-based network. Existing SBTF volunteers are from 70+ different countries and have been involved in crisis mapping projects for Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, Colombia, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Philippines etc. Our ethical and professional code is centered on five core principles: Humanity, Neutrality, Responsibility, Respect and Professionalism, and is based on best practices in the field of humanitarian response, including International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) guidelines for aid agencies providing disaster relief.
Patrick Meier and Justine Mackinnon from SBTF are interviewed in a recent programme on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service Programme. Listen to it here