Help needed! Translate messages from victims for emergency responders
By Bill Forry
Jan. 17, 2010
The Center for Future Civic Media at MIT has reached out the BHR and our staff and readers for help with a new database intended to help get emergency responders to Haiti's earthquake victims. A new text/SMS code — 4636— is being employed in Haiti to help coordinate emergency response to those in need. We are asking all of our Creole-English speaking readers to help with this effort ASAP. Please follow the directions carefully.
Here is a brief backgrounder from Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, who is directing MIT's efforts on the project:
"It was set up by two great organizations, Ushahidi and Frontline SMS. It is a free sms code that anyone in Haiti can dial, asking for help, reporting news, etc. It is just going out on one or two radio stations as we speak. The reason they can do this is that the dispatchers can be anyone who speaks Creole on the web. You can see the reports received so far at:
and full instructions here.
"You'll see "messages in queue" at the top left of the screen; you can click on the number next to it. If there is a message in the queue you'll see the SMS received from Haiti, and you can "code" the message; entering name, location, type of request. Anyone can volunteer to dispatch on line, but we have lined up SEIU -- who are setting up a command center here in Boston -- to respond to the demand.
"This information will be available to air workers, Haitian authorities, etc...And if you think the short code could help, it
would be great if you could forward it to the larger community so they could tell their people in Haiti."
If you do participate in this effort, please let us know by confirming with a message here at our site so we can keep track. And please pass the word on this via Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Non-Kreyol speakers can track what's going on here.
-Bill Forry, Managing Editor