Dear Team (also known as the Awesomest Crisis Mappers of the World),
It’s been almost 4 weeks since OCHA activated the Standby Volunteer Task Force to provide live crisis mapping support for Libya. As many of you already know, the Task Force was originally conceived and designed for short-term, rapid crisis mapping deployments in support of local and international organizations who request the help. We are now entering a more long term phase in Libya and this is not something we’re currently equipped to handle. Recognizing this openly and transparently is both important and necessary. Not doing so would be irresponsible. Our OCHA partners already know this and they are completely respectful of where our comparative advantage lies.
So we wanted to let you know about next steps based on OCHA’s plans moving forward. The Task Force will officially phase out operations at 12pm EST on March 28th but any Task Force volunteers who wish to continue supporting crisis mapping operations in Libya are absolutely welcome to as individual volunteers. OCHA will require further support and have also expressed an interest in hiring 2 volunteer coordinators for 2 months to continue crisis mapping operations in Libya. The volunteers would be hired as individuals and would represent themselves, not a company or organization they might happen to be affiliated with. Please contact “Jeffrey Villaveces” <firstname.lastname@example.org> directly for more information if you are interested in applying.
We think it is important to be completely clear about this transition. As of March 28th, the Task Force will no longer be formally or informally involved in the Libya Crisis Map. Again, this is not because we don’t want to but simply a question of capacity, design and purpose. We have already completed our mission with distinction and fulfilled our mandate as a Standby Volunteer Community that provides short-term crisis mapping support in times of need. As we have done in all our previous deployments, we will close down the official Standby Task Force (SBTF) Skype chats for this deployment. This is because OCHA will now take over and create their own Skype chats for coordination purposes. (Not to worry, we Task Force volunteers will all stay in touch via the Ning platform, our dedicated Google Group regardless, and the SBTF general chat will still be open : )
We also think it’s important for us to be transparent with all of you about some of the politics and perception issues that we need to be mindful of. (Believe us when we say we really, really don’t like dealing with politics and perception issues, that’s not why we became crisis mappers). In any case, we are first and foremost a volunteer community. We do what we do because we all want to help in our own way and these new technologies allow us to do so in new and exciting ways. The Standby Volunteer Task Force is a remarkable example of what is possible through global civic engagement.
So we have to make sure that others don’t start thinking that we launched the Task Force to make money from OCHA or anyone else for that matter! We’re a volunteer group and the fact that we volunteer our time freely goes to the core of what makes this group so special and possible. As soon as we start adding money to the mix, things can get tricky and unpleasant. So it’s important that whoever joins OCHA as hired coordinators for the Libya project clearly do so as individuals and not representatives of the Task Force or their own organization/companies. Just to be clear, none of us co-founders will ever seek to profit financially from these remarkable displays of good will that all Task Force volunteers exemplify. That is just not what we’re about.
After the Task Force phases out operations in Libya on the 28th, we will take time to review how the project went and how we can improve for future deployments. As always, anyone who has any recommendations is more than welcome to share them by sending an email to: email@example.com. We will share with you all the feedback received and the actions we will take to implement this feedback.
In the meantime, we would like to give each and every single one of you our profound thanks for offering your time to support OCHA’s humanitarian relief operations in Libya. You have been involved in something that has literally never happened before in the history of humanitarian response, and one which is already being spoken of as a milestone in how humanitarian operations are changing. Thank you for all your time, your team spirit and your good cheer. You continue to inspire us every day.
Patrick, Anahi, Jaro, Helena, Rob and Geoorge