To prepare for natural disasters, the necessary data must be up-to-date. In the case of Haiti, which is vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, this is a matter of life and death.
Which communes are more at risk? What infrastructure should be put in place to respond to a disaster? It is virtually impossible to make a sound decision without having the data in hand.
Until now, this information, which was updated and evaluated each year, was available in hard copy only and it was difficult for the Department of Civil Protection to update it in real time and peruse it quickly.
Very soon however, with a mere click, these officials will be able to locate the risks facing a commune or department on an interactive map. This map will also allow the level of preparedness of local institutions to be viewed. The data will be entered directly by the communes and this system will therefore make the process of updating information more efficient.
“(This software) will allow us to adjust our responses to the needs of residents even in the most remote areas of the country. We could have spent a great deal of time developing software of this nature but Haitian youth have made the task easier for us,” says Roosevelt Compere, the Prevention Coordinator at the Department of Civil Protection.
This new software copped first place at a recent Hackathon, where Haitian students met for two days and one night to develop a technological tool to improve data collection in communes and to create a database through which information recorded on maps can be viewed.
Anne-Martine, 22 years old, is the only woman in the winning group, “Premium,” which she heads. A fifth- year student at Haiti’s State University, she galvanized her fellow students and encouraged them to participate. “Programming facilitates problem-solving,” she states. “Each project presents a new challenge.”
She is pleased that the software is being used to improve the State’s response to natural disasters and stresses the importance of team work—known as “konbit” in Creole.