#OpenAid project



NeedsList (NeedsList.co)

Open311 (see open311.org)

'Whuffie' social-credit currency in Cory Doctorow's novelette "Truncat" (2004).

At COVID Accelerator, projects including COVID Swap Meet concept / HospitalHero.


MAMAS https://mutualaidmamas.com/ mutual-aid tools

vTaiwan - civic-tech and participatory democracy project.

Audrey Tang - Taiwan's Digital Minister, overseeing vTaiwan and now many aspects of the country's exceptionally successful Coronavirus response.

Coronavirus Tech Handbook - proejct from Newspeak House, London.

this essay by co-founder of Coronavirus Tech Handbook Nathan Young 2020. "The Hitchhikers Guide to Coronavirus." Medium, 6 March 2002. https://medium.com/@nathan_young/the-hitchhikers-guide-to-coronavirus-27008ec07325 talking about using the simplest, most familiar tools.

What it does

Support easy, open posting and exchange of help/offer messages in social media, text messaging. Helps individuals and organizations more easily post, match, exchange help/offer communications in a decentralized, scaleable way to overcome bottlenecks and work efficiently .

How I built it

Python scripting using Python Tweepy library to harvest and analyze tweets from Twitter API. Twitter account and script outputs pulled into Slack via custom Slack Apps integration. Tracking, matching, dispatch performed within Slack for now, fairly manually, but this is a sort of "paper prototyping" phase to see what can be streamlined and automated.

Challenges I ran into

There is intense competition to gain attention, early lead, publicity, and traction in a space like this in a crisis. It has been nearly overwhelming to manage and evaluate all the invitations, new groups and channels that have sprung up, to see where best to help and seek help. Many engagements have been hard to assess value of, for example required time to explore and sign up / apply for but didn't lead to any response.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Instead of looking for people to come to us, and use an interface, forms, etc that we control, in OpenAid project we prioritize letting people use their own tools and practices, and we go to them to listen/observe how they do it and how we can plug in and assist with the least difficulty.

What I learned

It's easy, especially in a crisis, for many projects to spring up that are duplicative, have unclear sustainability, aren't transparent, easily run into bottlenecks or scaling problems. The needs are complex and many, and the profusion of efforts easily leads to an information landscape that's extremely hard to navigate, for people needing help and for people wanting to help.

What's next for OpenAid

We were accepted to COVID Accelerator based in San Francisco, and are actively building team and project on their platorm with help from advisors and co-participants there.

We presented to Twitter's head of coronavirus response -- fortuitously, an old friend -- who then gave our 1-page project concept to Twitter's Head of Product. Waiting to hear if anything develops from that. Twitter could potentially help us in many ways, such as identifying or promoting local-area aid hashtags, promoting the service as a public-service announcement type (co-)Promoted Tweet, connecting us with Twitter employees to help and advise, and granting us more use of Twitter API as demand grows.

We are joing with with several Portland groups, including the leading local mutual-aid group PDX COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network, and Portland Community Resources Network, to co-develop lightweight outreach/intake tools using their needs as test cases.

Other than that, continuing to rapidly prototype, research, deal with flood of inquiries and partner/integration possibilities, keep Slack workspace tuned up, and build team.

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