Friday, January 22, 2010

Some DC Networking

Yesterday I went to a happy hour with a bunch of nerds.

A little background. When the earthquake hit Haiti, our office was responsible for providing on-the-ground news and knowledge for the main office in Geneva because we're in charge of the Caribbean. What that meant was that as news reports of the horrible death and destruction came in, it was my job to process it, summarize it and put it into a bureaucratic report.

Especially for those first few days, it was very important for the UN to find ot what was going on there (although not as important for my specific agency) becuse a response needed to be coordinated right away and the UN staff in Haiti was just dealing with finding survivors. One of the very helpful tools in getting closer to the primary sources was a project called Ushahidi. Ushahidi geographically maps information as it comes in real time through text messages, social media posts and news. It has been used for election monitoring Kenya and most recently was set up to help find survivors and connect people in need with humanitarian organizations in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

After work I volunteered to help monitor news for Ushahidi - I don't think I did very much but it's a very interesting project. Anyway, a girl at Ushahidi recommended that I go to a "Tech4Dev" happy hour - people in interested in how technology interacts with international development. So that's how I went, and how I met some really cool people working on some wonderfully interesting projects. So, yeah. See the first sentence.