Open Source Software Aiding Relief Efforts

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Friday, 19 February 2010 12:43
Fast Company Magazine reports on the use of Open Source mapping software in the relief efforts. Open Source developers Tom Buckley and Schuyler Erle are working in Haiti.  Fast Company reports:
The pair are advising the World Bank on the use of crowd-sourced mapping, primarily through the open-source program OpenStreetMap, in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.
Erle adds:
OpenStreetMap really *has* become the gold standard for base map data in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.
Open Source software is not just helping with mapping, but also in medical services. Dana Blankenhorn reported for ZDnet on January 25 on software being used by Partners in Health called OpenMRS. Blankenhorn writes:
For the last two weeks PIH has been orchestrating medical response to the earthquake, and has drawn great praise. But what makes it possible is a Web-based medical record, originally created to track programs against drug-resistant TB.
The use of Open Source software will also provide valuable lessons for future disasters. Blankenhorn quotes Fred Trotter, a consultant and advocate of Open Source health software:
Emergencies highlight the fact that health software users may have -very- different needs than the software vendor’s vision or even their own understanding. I know that the OpenMRS project will change substantially in response to the earthquake in Haiti. More importantly those changes will spread to other areas of the world… but those other users of OpenMRS will get the Haiti lessons -before- the mudslide/tsunami/earthquake/bombing happens in their area.


Tags: open source | partners in health