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NetHope Disaster Response Training

August 27, 2019

The part of the world which I call home is a place in California that most people only pass through, or fly over, on their way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Recently however, I had the good fortune that NetHope was conducting its Bay Area Disaster Response Training (DRT) right in my “backyard,” in San Luis Obispo County, CA.

The DRT is an approach to provide emergency responders with hands-on, practical experience deploying information and communications technology (ICT) services in a simulated emergency-response environment. I was able to attend a few days of the event as a facilitator/observer and got a better understanding of how NetHope builds the response capacity of the participants who make up their member and partner organizations, part of which involves Fulcrum Community for various components of their information management strategy.

Point-to-point network training, in a grassy field approaching 100°F

‍Learning from disaster

To increase its capacity for responding to disasters worldwide, NetHope’s DRT exercises provide crucial training. Select participants learn to create and deploy ICT solutions for those in need. ICT combines tools that enable people to use, collect, edit, and share information. This capability is essential in disaster situations, helping those in need of food, shelter, water, and medicine.

In attendance were organizations such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Facebook and Google. These are all NetHope partners sending skilled candidates from nearby Silicon Valley and other areas around the country. In addition, the nonprofit humanitarian response organization Team Rubicon, a NetHope member, sent participants. Its staff included those from CiscoTacOps, emergency.lu, Ericsson Response, and Facebook in attendance as exercise trainers. The goal is for trainees to learn from each other, build capacity, and gain practical experience. They deploy ICT services in a simulated exercise as part of NetHope’s larger response strategy.

Fulcrum: an integral tool in disaster response operations

Since NetHope began using Fulcrum, our data collection tool has become critical to their disaster response workflow. Previously, this information was gathered by hand and later digitized or captured inefficiently. Imagine the time saved by moving from handwritten notes or emailed spreadsheets to digital data. We’re talking about critical information needed to restore basic needs for affected persons’ physical well-being.

In NetHope Disaster Response deployments, Fulcrum is used for information management of these tasks:

  • Assistance requests
  • Site assessment
  • Site planning
  • Installations and backlog
  • Inventory and logistics backlog
  • Task tracking and completion
  • Reports
  • Rework
  • Tracking organizations/contacts

Information Management training, outlined with sticky notes. Fulcrum app being reviewed, planning/testing forms used for the various tasks

Some of the key features where Fulcrum presents an instrumental offering as part of an ICT solution:

  • Simple and intuitive for new users. First, usability is critical in high-stress situations such as those experienced in a disaster response environment.
  • Quick and easy form building, user provisioning and role management. In a crisis, people don’t have time or patience for clunky form-building tools or challenges when adding new users.
  • Rock solid dependability, no matter the connectivity. We’ve built Fulcrum with an “offline first” mentality. Continue collecting your data if disconnected and once you get connected again, you’ll get your data synced up with the rest of the team.
  • Scalable. From hundreds of users to hundreds of thousands of records – Fulcrum is built to scale.
  • Extensible. Finally, through developer tools (REST API, Query API, webhooks, etc.) Fulcrum becomes highly extensible, with a variety of integration hooks.

Looking forward

Our team is proud that Fulcrum positively impacts NetHope’s efforts in restoring communications in disaster-struck areas, and look forward to our relationship growing over time. We have committed to a Technology Solutions Exhibitor sponsorship at the NetHope Global Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We are excited to attend and engage further. For me, it was incredible to meet some of the NetHope leadership, team members, partners, and DRT participants.

I’m grateful that NetHope was kind enough to include me and feel lucky that it was held so close to my geography. I’m also proud that Spatial Networks has the heart to give back to organizations like NetHope, who are truly making a difference around there world – where it’s needed most.

The Barn,’ where classroom activities were held - Nethope disaster response training

Classroom activities in “the Barn”

Fulcrum is a data collection platform that enables organizations to reduce costs, access critical data in real time, and improve decision making at every level. With Fulcrum, you can create custom apps using our simple drag-and-drop builder to turn your paper documents into digital forms that your field teams can quickly complete on mobile devices. Fulcrum Community is a no-cost, short-term crowdsourced data collection solution for qualified humanitarian or volunteer disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. Click here to learn more or request an account.