Reducing Our Risk

Organization: 
Sarapis

Entry Overview

NYC:Prepared (NYCP) is a pilot project developing a community-led, technology-based approach to emergency management in New York City that began immediately after Hurricane Sandy (2012).

 

The project is led by a coalition of technologists, subject-matter experts and local leaders working together to create a set of disaster relief and community resilience information management solutions that enables all stakeholders to efficiently coordinate preparedness, response and recovery activities. We also provide communities and non-profits with critical web services including websites, data management, technology training and support.

 

Our software is open-source and our techniques are documented and freely available online, enabling any community in the world to deploy our tools and techniques without restriction or fees.

 

NYCP is operated by Sarapis, a 501.c.3 providing open source solutions to local challenges faced by civic organizations. Learn more about us at sarapis.org.

 

 

General Info
Marie
Irvine
Email : 
marie@sarapis.org
Organization Address: 
134 Spring St
New York, New York 10012
United States
Problem
Population Impacted: 
CAT 3 Storm: 1.7 million; CAT 2 Storm: 1.1 million
Hazard: 
Storm Surge
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC2, 2013), there has been an increase in the strength and numbers of strong (CAT 4 & 5) North Atlantic hurricanes as well as evidence of an increase in Northeast U.S. storm activity between 1950-2010. Due to exacerbating factors such as sea level rises, temperature changes and increased precipitation, the NPCC estimates that the 100-year-flood risk could occur approximately five times as frequently by 2050.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
New York City has the largest amount of residents living in the 100-year floodplain of any U.S. city. Nearly 400,000 residents, 70,000 buildings and 57,000 1-4 family homes are located in the flood plain, which covers 536 Sq Ft of the city. New York City is the most dense and populous city in the U.S., and presents a complex challenges in assisting residents (NYC OEM): Children (21% under 18) Seniors (12% over 65) Disabilities (10%) Languages (23% speak English less than “very well”) Low income (21% < poverty threshold)
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Storm surges cause considerable infrastructure (power outages, destroyed or inaccessible roadways) and property damage to both commercial and residential property. Buildings suffer structural damage as well as flood damage (mold, toxic waste). In the immediate aftermath, residents’ access to shelter, food and other basic necessities is impacted. In the following months and years, individuals and communities struggle to rebuild businesses, homes and community spaces (schools, churches, social service locations).
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
Because of the density and diversity of NYC's neighborhoods, local communities are often the first and last line of defense for the residents. Survivors will receive various degrees of assistance from insurance, FEMA and other government programs. However, a large segment of the affected population (and often the most vulnerable), categorized as “unmet needs”, will be supported by local nonprofits and communities who often form Long-Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) and other recovery coalitions to assist residents’ long-term needs.
Action
Preparedness Goal: 
NYCP convenes communities, experts and technologists to create locally appropriate software solutions that help coordinate activities across all phases of an incident for all major functions carried out by nonprofits.
Implementing Actions: 

 

Activities:

 

The NYC:Prepared Steering Committe consists of three main groups of stakeholders: operations team (Sarapis), relief community and technology providers. The operations team developed the first version of the NYC:Prepared software toolset, writes technical documentation and specifications,  conducts trainings and convenes the  quarterly steering committee.

 

 

The steering committee’s responsibilities include:

 

  • Coordinating roll-out, organizing training and implementing NYCP solutions

  • Maintaining and approving data models (schema and taxonomies)

  • Creating and prioritizing requests for changes to the software systems

  • Managing steering committee membership

  • Helping raise the funds needed to sustain the NYCP project

Technology:

 

At the heart of the NYC:Prepared initiative is the software toolset, which consists of three free/libre/open-source software systems, each of which is well established and used by some of the world’s most effective government agencies, humanitarian organizations and media companies.  These tools are:

 

  • Resource Management System - eden.nycprepared.org

Software: Sahana EDEN; Also used by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC); Technology Provider: AidIQ

This powerful platform functions as a community “intranet” to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery through functions like directories, request queues (donations and volunteers), GIS and data visualization, logistics (shipping, inventory and asset management) and news/events sharing. Fully integrated with social media.

 

  • Website Builder - nycprepared.org/directory

Software: WordPress; Also used by CNN; Technology Provider: Glocal

For non-profits unable to build  their own websites, our site builder tool provides them with a website with the most commonly requested features such as news and events publishing, email newsletter delivery, social media integration, form building, data management and more.

 

  • Data Repository - data.nycprepared.org

Software: CKAN; Also Used by UNOCHA’s HDX; Technology Provider: Ontodia

Our data repository contains a collection of over 100 datasets crucial to improving community resilience, such as elevation files, flood projections, community district boundaries, census tracts, points of interest and more.

We are committed to building open-source solutions because we believe every community should have the ability to access, customize and contribute to emergency management software platforms. Unlike proprietary solutions, which are often designed to lock clients into their platforms by placing their information into silos, our open source solutions make data as portable and interoperable as possible through import/exports features and APIs. The widely recognized data interoperability advantage of open source is why major humanitarian institutions that share large amounts of information (UNOCHA, the IFRC, World Bank, US GSA) are moving from proprietary to open source software and data platforms.

Solution
Describe Your Solution: 

 

All of our solutions are designed by nonprofit and community organizations to help increase their capacity to coordinate with each other and enable them to better serve affected residents. Through our unique participatory software development process, led by our steering committee, we are constantly refining and expanding our tools.

 

The capabilities and examples described below are currently available to networks and organizations throughout the city.  

 

Before (Preparedness):

 

  • Preparedness news and event feeds: we are syndicating news and events from over a hundred NYC-based nonprofits and government agencies to produce freely available curated RSS feeds

  • Directory, service and facility information: we collect and maintain contact, service and facility information for local community organizations and networks. This information cal also be used to map out gaps in services in local areas.

  • Mapping of vulnerable populations: census data, combined with hazard maps, can provide communities with crucial awareness of the location of vulnerable populations

  • Visualization of flood maps and other preparedness data from data repository.

 

During (Response):

 

  • News aggregation: our directory of organizations, which includes website and social media information, aggregates news from throughout the NYCP network.

  • Assessment information: shared data on needs assessments, vulnerable populations and service locations

  • Request processing: organizational members can make and/or fulfill requests for supplies and volunteers, and track the status of request through the system.

  • Mapping activities: functions such as feeding, donation and volunteer events can be mapped on our website and via our responsive mobile interface

  • Facilities and donations management

  • Inventory and asset management

 

After (Recovery):

 

  • Service directory: we organize a directory of services available to people affected by disasters (ex: housing, mental health and medical assistance).This information is accessible via website, mobile interface as well as through API, enabling other software applications to utilize the data.

  • Network directory: a directory of the organizations and groups involved in recovery activities, connecting key capacities (ex: volunteers and construction groups, mental health providers and local service hub)

  • Coordination of service delivery: needs assessments, muck-out, mold remediation and construction activities.

Results
Economic?: 

 

By providing local organizations, recovery groups and relief networks throughout New York City with websites and data management tools in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NYCP empowered them to efficiently disseminate critical news and assistance information to affected residents with unmet needs, and to leverage the influx donors and volunteers to better serve their communities. Since 90% of donations (financial and in-kind) and a large portion of volunteer man hours are donated during the first week of the response, being ready with websites an appropriate, useful and active web presence is critical for organizations that want to utilize the influx of potential assistance.

 

For local relief organizations, the biggest challenge lies in being able to avoid duplication of operations (leading to waste of donations, food/water or volunteer hours) and mapping out gaps in service delivery (reaching underserved communities). NYCP coordination enables the breakdown of operational silos by aggregating and disseminating information to and from all stakeholders.

Environmental?: 

Undetermined

Social?: 

In all phases of a disaster, local communities and relief organizations tend to operate independently of each other using incompatible tools and data models. By providing a forum for engagement around the practical issues surrounding preparedness, response and recovery, NYCP supports a cohesive collaboration between stakeholders in New York City’s emergency management landscape. Common data models promote transparency, communication and collaboration between all stakeholders. Additionally, NYCP represents a bottom-up approach to disaster by making local communities and residents, a primary source of information about the needs and vulnerabilities of their respective neighborhoods, a key decision-maker in NYC’s preparedness, response and recovery.

What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

Undetermined

Replication/Scale
Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

 

To date, and over two years, approximately $40,000 of donor funding and over 3,000 volunteer hours (worth an approximate $100,000) have gone into the development of NYCP solutions.  Nearly all the funding has been used to pay for software development, which was carried out at deep discount from our technology providers.  The majority of the volunteer hours have been used for system design, website deployment, training, technology support, group facilitation and general program development.

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 

 

  • Local Partnerships: Because a disaster starts local and ends local, we believe that the operations team should be local, with Sarapis as partner that provides technical support, documents best practice uses and ensures resources are available to continue developing the software and its community of contributors.

  • Funding: The replication costs of NYCP software is minimal, and anyone can deploy our codebase to their own server and change configuration settings. However, continuously improving NYCP’s open source software codebase will require a consistent stream of funding. We are aiming to cultivate local operations teams around the country that use our codebase to start NYCP-style initiatives and will be collaborating with local partners to seek funding and grants in a number of cities.

  • Connections: As the needs of communities affected by disaster become more transparent, we believe that approach has the potential to connect corporate and individual donors more directly to the affected communities.
Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

Contest Partners

Contest Sponsors

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