Thursday, December 30, 2004

Building a Team via the Internet

I had been also exchanging emails desperately and in two of my friends - Neil Devadasan and Vidhura Ralapanawe - I found common cause - they responded and together we expanded the website after moving it to ldeo to help responders throwing out our data, our work, published and unpublished and links to raise funds for the victims. We believed that it would be useful.

Having been studying the environmental side and the science and technology infrastructure in Sri Lanka for two decades. I know well about how that country deals with disasters. I had just completed a project on disaster risk identification and a proposal to do early warning systems. I have been studying how scientific information gets used in the climate arena to meet societal needs for five years now.

We worked feverishly - all three of us working sometimes till 4 am - essentially until we could no longer function - exchanging emails often - from our locations in Indianopolis, Poughkeepsie, and Palisades. We went public with the websites in a few days.

We also decided to brand the websites with recoverlanka and geolanka - the former to capture our wish and the content and the latter to reflect the interactive tools that Neil had developed for mapping. Later he added on database tools for people so that we can make all of the emails that were flying around requesting assistance organized into a database.

We were soon joined by many - Mano Philips from Toronto - who brought in a great wealth of experience and good judgement and took on an extraordinary share of the work including making dossiers for distribution and developing a dialogue on reconstruction - Ruvini Perera dealt with GIS work to punishing schedules - Geetha Selvendran and Jayantha Obeyesekera took over the disaster response on the water management side - my IRI colleagues, Anji, Ale, Brad, Ousmane, Emily kept up a watch on the weather that was so critical in the relief operations.