Occupy Sandy Data Case Study: volunteer outreach

Goal:
Propose recommendations that would aid in the next iteration of emergency response communication between service providers and citizens.

Team:
Christo, #OccupyData NYC
Devin, Occupy Sandy
Marisela, SandyNJvols Tumblr

On day two, we discussed the challenges Occupy Sandy encounters when matching up a large database of volunteers to relief efforts. Since the superstorm hit our area, the InterOccupy  site has been successful in  collecting nearly 20 thousand volunteer data, but the service hubs registration has only been a handful at a time.

In contrast, we looked at a different approach to volunteering engagement, where New Jersey Sandy relief effort opportunities are curated and published on the SandyNJVols Tumblr page; and then disseminated through social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, using superstorm Sandy keywords and hashtags.  The simplicity of data curation and social network approach has been successful in inspiring spontaneous citizen engagement through opportunity validation and immediacy of need.

We analyzed and compared the two sites to identify the causes limiting volunteer and service hub engagement.

Main issues:

  • Passive approach: undetermined waiting time until a volunteering opportunity becomes available.
  • Metrics: measure individual volunteering hours and/or referrals.
  • Service hubs: simplify process to notify opportunities to community through clearinghouses such as Occupy Sandy.
  • Volunteer rights conflict: many service providers require the volunteer to also register in their database, which may result in duplicate requests and an unwanted sense of overcommitment with multiple organizations.

 

Next steps:
Explore volunteer tracking and reward system and mobile location-based push notifications with volunteering opportunities.  Develop an outreach campaign for organizations providing them with a simple way to submit their needs, considering the communication break down that occurs when disaster strikes.
Marisela from SandyNJvols Tumblr is willing to collaborate with the Occupy Sandy team on their content strategy.

 

About Marisela

Interaction designer, television producer and digital disruptor.