Robert Kirkpatrick

We come from a background, created by Larry Briliant, to create a global network for early detection and early response.

InSTEDD Overview – launched 01/08, non-profit, funding from, rockefeller.. agile, “innovation lab”

“From a faint signal to collective action”

Single event deemed noteworthy to collective action. Seems simply, very complex. Big chart, many parts. Integrating approaches is significant challenge. Collaboration is at the top of the stack. Focus of the organisation, on human integration aspects.

Must work with capabilities in many places, Iraq at temperatures 117F. “If you can make it work here, you can make it work anywhere”

We partner wherever we can with organisations working on technologies that may be useful, twitter, facebook, single use techs can be repurposed to other goals. We’re vendor agnostic, will use anything, and will innovate where we can.

To know these techs will work, we go where they are, to field labs. By failing quickly again and again we’ll create designs that can work when they’re needed and will be reliable.

Office just opened in Steung Treng Province, northern Cambodia. Sharing disease information across border with Lao. What does usability mean in an environment like this.

Recent project, set of liraries and applications, OSS FeedSync implementation to combine technologies to create mesh environment to provide data in low bandwidth environments. Have implementations in C#, Java, others. Brought up HTTP sync service at, we’re hosted on google gode too. – Cyclone Nargis response. Been working very hard, very little sleep, work done in past few days is astonishing.

We realised that geochat, messages over sms, wasn’t needed in Myanmar, really needed to translate into Burmese, where unicode code isn’t standardised, very difficult. What was needed was to organise rapid crowdsourcing over >11k lines. Google spreadsheet of names and getting feedback. True of slower moving scenarios as well as fast moving disasters, can’t predict what will work. Very important to apply learnings.


Google spreadsheet of translated text. Have used different platforms but there wasn’t a toolkit already to solve problem. Situation in these responses requires integrating many systems, never be one coordinating agency, reductionist approach just fails.

Google code project contains utility that gives a client to allow you to synchronise KML files with each other. Showing 3 KML files in google earth. Adding placemark. Save it. Can synchronise it two ways with another file, figuring out changes in the file and what is new, deleted, edited, and creating XML respresentation of changeset and changes are applied to other file. People can edit items in the field, pass a thumbdrive around and can collaboratively edit information. Guy put together 11Mb file by himself using contributions from other people. This type of technology allows anyone to make updates and he can merge them in. Can also sync up to a service, currently hosted by instedd but looking to do EC2 or S3 versions.

Now showing online RSS document keeping the KML information and versioning data. Decentralized versioning system. Can be put into Google Spreadsheet and it will still work. Need right adapters but we’re creating it. Would like to discuss with interesting partners.

GeoChat – hook up multiple gateways to website, have a gateway for twitter, can send a text message with lat/lon and message, or location name, and tags and this will be displayed in a string and can be displayed in KML or RSS. Showing in Cambodia. Showing team moving about in google earth. Can click reply and reply directly, via correct gateway, will go to twitter. Can also do group replies in a certain location or tag. All OSS and free.

InSTEDD: Humanitarian Collaboration Tales

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