Bridging the Gap (or a Saturday “kind of” doing work)

As a way to spend a Saturday I should really spend with my family and doing chores, attending the Bridging the Gap Think Tank wasn’t too bad an option. Sure, family is (almost) always better, but I’m passionate about this stuff.

BGTT crowd

I was surprised to find there was a rather heavier presence of government folk in attendance — NSW Rural Fire Service, EMSINA, the ABC, Victorian Department of Justice and Emergency Services Commissioner, NGOs including local level Red Cross and community folk including OpenStreetMap, Standby Task Force, EveryMap and Green Cross. There was also a pretty wide mix of developer and user-level types in the small crowd (around 20).

The morning session consisted of a number of short talks covering various factors and actors in crisis mapping including CrisisCommons, Red Cross, OpenStreetMap, Lew Short from NSW RFS, Lisa Wilhelmseder from Green Cross, Maurits van der Vlugt from BushfireConnect and Monique Potts from the ABC.

I also spoke briefly about government becoming more familiar with collaborative communities and the work I’m doing with the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence.

After lunch, we broke into a number of streams — a Ushahidi 101 session for those that wanted to learn more about that platform and a BarCamp-like session for tech and coding as well as better policy and business practice in crisis mapping.

I got involved in a deep discussion about national resilience and getting the community involved in planning around the subject. Proposed by Pat McCormick from Victorian DoJ, we discussed matters of tools, informing and engaging the community, spatial activation on data, connecting with the disconnected, policy reform, incorporating hyperconnectivity into activities such as FEMA’s National Level Exercise and more.

Overall, a great day spent with motivated people. I’ve embedded a track of the day I put together at Storify below.

[View the story “Bridging the Gap Think Tank” on Storify]

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