- 11.03.2020 – Setting up a personal hidden page for me and my family to keep a track of situation for me. Since I am in the risk group and was supposed to be in India at this time for by birthday on the 9th. But decided to cancel my flight for 6th March to keep safe. Most of the information primarily comes in German so I had to set it up for myself.
- 15.03.2020 – a German friend adds me to a local FB Corona Support group. MS4H – Münster for Help
- 17.03.2020 – Talking to a friend at ERCIS Crisis Competence Centre, figuring if deploying another Map would make sense. Setup https://ercis.ushahidi.io meanwhile to evaluate possibilities. Meanwhile I get in touch with Angela from Ushahidi to see how the licensing works. She upgrades the license telling me they’ll probably be making Corona related deployments available for free for the time being.
- 18.03.2020 – Connect with Gerald who setup the Facebook group MS4H offering an Ushahidi map.. https://ms4h.ushahidi.io
- 18.03.2020 – 20.03.2020 – Both me and Gerald talk through the night shift because that’s when he gets the kids to sleep.
- 20.03.2020 – I pay for and setup the ms4h.de domain name and hosting, the website is setup with WordPress and basic information later at night.
- 21.03.2020 – I setup Ushahidi on https://map.ms4h.de and try to configure it.
- 25.03.2020 – the Ushahidi install finally works on my shared hosting account after a lot of sleep, thinking straight and looking at the problem again. Also, thanks to David Losada/Ushahidi for pointers to Dev Documentation.
- 25.03.2020 – I setup and configure a Facebook Messenger Bot. Since the primary community engagement is happening on Facebook, it would make sense through so many posts to direct them to a simple tool that allows them to offer themselves as helpers. So the Messenger bot helps collect their interest for help. Also, if they are looking for help, they can contact the tool. But then it directs them to one of the admins. Problem still exists, that many old people who we reached out, find the tool, website or the map very complicated to use.
- 30.03.2020 – A lot of helpers have successfully started using the Messenger bot and some also tried the Map directly.
- 30.03.2020 – I ask around if there are people who can translate the bot? I get a Turkish translator Melanie from another local group to do the perfect Turkish translation of the bot.
- 02.04.2020 – Turkish version of the FB Messenger Bot is online.
The next few days, I look through the messages on the forum and understand what’s the primary need. Me and Gerald talk for a few days and see what’s useful to do to make the possible influx of people manageable. His key statement was: “elderly/old people/senioren” so that’s the target group. But most of them are not on Facebook, don’t want to be on Facebook or are not tech savvy. So the group is mainly filled with people talking, discussing and updating each other.
German translation is not 100% for Ushahidi. Contacting the Ushahidi dev team for assistance on what’s possible on a hosted v/s self-hosted instance. Its clear I need a self-hosted instance to be able to make changes to the UI or other requirements.
After evaluating what’s going on in the local FB groups, it’s clear the traffic is not high yet. Its the influx of people getting together in the time of a crisis. Mostly offers of help and solidarity. Something similar to what was done during the floods in Muenster, 6 years ago.
The usual question was “Can there be an app that old people can use easily?” to which I had to reply: “Apps don’t work in times of crisis. Human touch is crucial especially for people who are looking for help. So your phone line needs to be available to talk. I can see, what are the tasks you are doing, and figure out what tasks can be delegated or improvised by an appropriate tool.”
The focus of this group still remains on organising activities for the elderly, connect people with mutual aid in mind. And now we have a lot of people offering their skills to make cloth face masks. So that’s what is happening, apart from organising musical concert for old people.