Skip navigation

GWOB advisory board initial call

This Group is archived. You may not add or alter any of its content.

GWOB advisory board initial call


Attendees:James, Willow, Heather, Diggz, Aaron, Ella, Erin, Pascal, Lea

Introductions:Aaron Huslage : VTC been doing this stuff since Haiti in 05, on and off, doing things for disaster relief and management. This year has been crazy: Alive with Egypt, helped start a non profit to monitor radioactive stuff in Japan. Started a startup of my own, deploys a thing in a box.GSM phone calls, etc.

Ella Saitta: Disaster response tech; do security engineer and looking at toolkits for protest response. Did some work on Fluid Nexus, part of the CT Team in UK, consulting with a team in Australia. Tech advisor for projects like that. Visibility around simple cirtical infrastructure issues.
looking at large scale system failure

Erin: Project management/coordination for GWOB. Have some experience with field work in Haiti. Big Volunteer in general, hackerspaces, herding geeks.

Heather: work in background ip networking, domains and emails,and incident/change management for technical organizations. Connected with people via CC, RHoK, GWOB. Got very interested in geo and now works for in Ushahidi. Heather is an event planner, idea hacker, community builder. Wants open source to be a big component for these things, things put online to be used for many organizations. Software and hardware things.
drive open source
online avail useful to many orgs
hardware and software hacking

James: director and founder of School Factory - non profit started in 2002, in MKE. Transform public education. Hacker and maker space communities. BarCamp, startup accelorators, etc. Wrangling large communities, how can we participate with VTCs and have an educational function to that. All geneartions, constructing resilient communities. Facilitator, makes sure day-to-day of GWOB works. I make sure the vision we come up with become a reality.

Pascal: Emergency Response in King County.
FT emergency manager, em preparedness, crisis management, passion for heather and willow! :)
been in EM for 15-16 yrs, focus on tech integration, data integration, field ops, C&C
Crisis Commons, VT, crisis mappers, global scale responses, smaller responses
Dev apps in open source world. Lot of my personal life is also about moving all this forward.
“build once, use always”

Willow: Involved with hacker/makespaces for 3 years, founded Jigsaw Ren in Seattle, got kicked off with SF/Bucketworks, met Diggz at Gnomedex and his vision for engaging geeks in disaster response, made connection and went on adventure to tour spaces and meet people to engage with disaster response. Puts go into getting things done. This meeting will help Willow drive the direction and make the action fit the vision.

Lea: More then 15 years experience in geographic information systems and satellite remote sensing, with a focus on engaging local communities through participatory mapping. Worked with tribes for 10 years and local and state governments, comprehensive land use planning, community development, natural resource management, and emergency management. Been at the Wilson Center for 4 months, working on sloan grant activities to help support CrisisCommons and CrisisCamps and on policy research & analysis to support all VTC.

Amazing to listen to what people say about what they do--people have been doing it longer. Tech stuff for longer than 10 years, started Voxeo, through connection with Voxeo have been funding GWOB ops, also through that participation in other events and crisis camps and hackathons and things.
Privilege to jump start this. Idea came: how to use geek powers for good, then met willow--went to talk to geeks, and along way, met some of you. Started relationship with school factory to umbrella GWOB, one goal set forth at start was to put together advisory board of people who know what they’re talking about and can contribute. I’m new to this space, this field (VTC) and have seen it grow in the past year.

So far we’ve had successes, but to take to next level has to go beyond Willow and Diggz.

Hit the ground rolling, start DOING THINGS. Past 9 to 11 months have had lots of positive impact, but things are formalizing, where does GWOB fit, best gap that it can fill. How do we link it to other activities so it’s supporting.

For the meeting!
  1. Imagine - explore possible futures, emphasize core values and directions, and establish a vision to drive and unify Geeks Without Bounds and other VTCs at a high level.

Geeks Without Bounds (GWOBorg) is a not-for-profit alliance of hackers, coders and geeks united by the common goal of assisting communities in distress.  We actively organize and help promote coding/hacking events to facilitate the building of tools and systems meant to alleviate many of the technical problems encountered during emergency and disaster situations
This is broad. What is it we do, what don’t we we do?

What is unique about GWOB?
  • Aaron : the community is the point. People that may or may not see each other as competition. Mission of GWOB overall is advocacy and connector-ship. Right now it’s a bunch of people. They interact, sure, but an organizational perspective. Facilitating connection. But we don’t MAKE anything - which can be ok. CC is an educational place, doesn’t bring in new people but gets people already participating into a more advanced place.
  • Pascal : CC is about education AND bringing people together - people need or offer something, we bring them together. Too many orgs get created and people don’t know where to go. When I look at the fit for Geeks without Bounds--people go there who don’t know what they need, and GWOB helps people figure out what they need. I need a product or widget, GWOB then makes the widget get made, pushed, or changed. GWOB community, can you validate something? Can you help me make something that works in a specific geography? GWOB has resources, people--maybe more like an incubator. The On-going activity, whereas Crisis Commons is very much about the crisis phase itself and the immediate response. GWOB is about projects, CC is about events.
  • James : don’t want to create another place that people have to go, that confuses. Let’s be the director helping people connect to the right resources.
  • Heather : Thinking about the ecosystem of groups and their competition and the sense of it between them. Sense of newness, groups finding ways to use knowledge, skills, how do they all fit together? taking what P said and moving forward--it should be allowed to create their own things as long as they have the right problem definitions. Some things that happen in startup world are brilliant, shouldn’t be a download towards, but an upload too--both ways. When I first heard of GWOB from HB and JD, the thing that struck me most: it’s a startup that would do open source software forthis space, but help with tech aspects that didn’t exist. Bridge the distance--example, NZ reached out to GWOB, adds a layer of tech expertise that was mising in the emergency. What happens at RHOK gets left there. Ideas sit on the platter, some are good, some are not; when you bring techs and EMs together, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, there’s so much distance between them they don’t form relations. Incubator plus Hub.  
  • Ella : one of the things I’ve seen willow do really successfully is this kind of cultural interpreter, building cultural scripts for people to know how to interact. People have different expectations of how things are run. Working on building those cultural commonalities between geeks, VTC, and the larger response orgs. Debian and military or whatever this week’s challenge is. There is a certain amount of large project enablement, incubator needs. About connecting individuals and also incubating and hosting projects.
  • Lea : seconds Pascal and Heather. GWOB could add value by bringing the technical expertise to the table, by supporting long term development and maintenance/incubation. Taking what comes from RHoK and further developing it. Willow is a leader, asset to this community.
  • Diggz : everything here describes what we have been at some point. We have been an incubator, with me or Aaron making something a new tool. Difference between CC and GWOB is that we haven’t just been response - we can totally support each other in that. Identifying talent, volunteers who are totally ready to do these things. Carrying the ball to the next line - hackathons, events, long-standing efforts.
  • Willow: Erin is working to find the ‘platter projects’ from RHOK/etc and keep them alive--test before disaster, make sure things work, and organize projects. Less glamor, more background, more work between things on fire.
  • Erin: ageement support. bringing in people who can write workable tech requirments for projects, for instance. I’d like to see GWOB events move from making toys to making real things
  1. Identify - define and raise awareness of GWOB, the value it provides, and its vision.
  2. Invite - invite new members to join existing projects and events, and welcome new volunteers and subject matter experts.
  3. Inspire - retain existing volunteers and sponsors and inspire greater levels of participation by sharing success stories and opportunities for members
  4. Invest - acquire new sources of funding and other resources to create and expand useful programs and projects

Key themes from this talk:
  • Advocacy and connector-ship between competitive groups who are in the space
  • Incubator plus Hub
    • On-Going project Support, not just response
    • Keep the “Platter Projects” alive : even just this is of critical value
    • Comprehensive project management support
  • Cultural Interpreter
    • be awesome, fun and personable <3
    • make hacking software and ideas an acceptable and valued motis operandi
    • Bridge between EM and VTC
    • Bring Tech to Table
    • Identify and Engage Resources, Talent, and People who can Help

Next goal is to have a concise way to explain what it is we do, that people want to sign on with!
Need help?


The notebook section provides a way for you to store and share information with your group members. With the book feature you can:

  • Add book pages and organize them hierarchically into different books.
  • Attach files to pages to share them with others.
  • Track changes that others have made and revert changes as necessary.
  • Archive books that are no longer of interest to the group. Archived books can be reactivated later if needed.