Open Badges for Crisis Response

Just before the Dublin Hacks event, I found myself in London for Mozfest, the yearly conference for Mozilla. I was there to wander and schmooze, but then I met Jess Klein (now listed on our Who-Is page!). She was working on HackLabs in disaster areas, based on her experience during Hurricane Sandy. What would be needed in any kit (software of space-wise) deployed in times of disaster? It’s a good question asked by many intelligent people who encounter disaster. Because of GWOB’s exposure to so many such people and groups, it’s also a question we know is huge, and one that we create parts and pieces of constantly. Through deep conversation over a couple hours, we dug down deeper: what is a missing component our crew was especially well equipped to deal with at Mozfest?

The Emergency Hacklab team discussed just this question. What we came up with was this: a way for residents in an affected area to indicate someone has helped them. This helps deal with the disconnect between responders and the good work they aim to do.

In times of crisis, there is a desperate need to open up emergency/disaster response data. Communities rush to aid and collaborate both online and in person. There is a convergence of new technology, open source methodologies and grassroots activism. The Emergency Hack Lab tackled the question of how to credential, task and thank volunteers. The UN OCHA offices released an open data set of disaster badges. In a fast paced sprint, our team hacked and built proto-workflow for the UN OCHA Noun Project sets (official process) to the Mozilla Open Badges program. More details from Jessica Klein, Creative Lead, Mozilla Open Badges.

Things we’re super excited about:
This wasn’t about reinventing the wheel, it was about doing something innovative with existing pieces. We pulled from the UNOCHA Noun Project page. We are building a badging triage system that can function on top of existing grassroots and relief technology such as the Participatory Aid Marktplace and Frontline SMS using Mozilla Open Badges.

What’s next:

  • Code the SMS system prototype that is detailed in the userflow here:

  • Partnering with existing grassroots and relief orgs to make sure what we build can sit on top of their technology
  • User test the utility of the UNOCHA badges as we have hacked them out here:
  • Join us for the OpenBadges call about this Jan 29 – details here

Do we have a plan for deploying this? Testing it?

  • We are looking for volunteers to join our usertesting cohort.
  • We are working with the Hive Learning Network to usertest and paper prototype
  • People all over the world have expressed interest in this including Global Minimum who have offered to work with us to user test once we have a prototype

Learn more at: and

If you are interested in working on this project – please let us know:

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