Supporting NetHope's Ebola virus information management

Supporting NetHope's Ebola virus information management

Posted on September 09, 2014 by Michael Corley

On Aug. 13, The Patterson Foundation received an email from its international partner NetHope. The subject line read: NetHope - Ebola Outbreak - Urgent Appeal.

The Patterson Foundation receives a number of requests for financial support, and almost each one of these requests is met with a very polite and encouraging email explaining that the foundation doesn’t accept unsolicited requests and it funds its work through its network of partners. But because of the partnership with NetHope, this urgent appeal became a priority.

The Patterson Foundation's relationship with NetHope is in its fourth year. Through the years, the foundation's five characteristics for partnerships have been proven and reinforced. They are: Leadership, Willingness, Readiness, Capacity and Culture.

Accompanying the email from NetHope was an overview of the Ebola virus situation in West Africa, including an explanation of the need from NetHope’s member agencies, a detailed plan of the work to be done, and a breakdown of the financial and in-kind need. Like in previous disasters, The Patterson Foundation's interest is in helping NetHope create the information communication technology infrastructure so that the power of communications can be used and shared by the agencies fighting the Ebola virus outbreak.

With its 41 NGO member organizations, NetHope leverages this collaboration and the expertise of its international partners to enable each to function more effectively. In the disaster space, NetHope’s focus is building an information and communication infrastructure so its member NGOs can more effectively do their work on the ground.

Those of us in the U.S. don’t have the appreciation of the limited communication capabilities in many parts of the world. This limited communication is a way of life for many, however, in a disaster situation, the inability to effectively communicate and coordinate leads to a less-than-optimal response.

In West-Africa, NetHope is working to build the communication infrastructure so the NGOs providing relief can analyze and share data in order to optimize their work and save lives.

So far, NetHope shared that it has collected more than 100 sets of data and is seeking to grow that figure through the help of nearly 50 digital volunteers. This collection of open data is made possible in part through the support of The Patterson Foundation.

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