The Standby Task Force has been activated to support NetHope’s work to support refugees in Europe

We have been activated

The deployment starts 1200 UTC Sunday December 6 2015 and will run until 1200 UTC Sunday December 20 2015.

NetHope teams are installing WiFi Internet services for refugees. They need information about where refugees are gathering so they know where to install their services.

Our task is to provide them with the best and most up to date information about where internet access is needed in this fast moving and fluid situation.

Connections are crucial. Mobile phone and internet connections enable people to keep in contact with their families with their communities. It also gives people access to information, advice and support from across the globe as the work you did with Internews in September was testament.

We’ll need people with information management and geolocation skills. People with language skills relevant to the Middle East, Greece and the Balkans would be helpful as well.

NetHope are focused on Slovenia and Croatia right now but we plan to collect data from a wider group of countries.

This is our unique mission. There is no other organisation set up to deliver this sort of task. If we don’t do it, no one will.

For SBTF volunteers:

What you need to do next depends on whether you already have an account on our Slack service.

If you have already joined the SBTF Slack, just drop into there will be working documents pinned to that channel. Say hi and we’ll put you to work as soon as the deployment starts. You can join right now.


Visit this page on the Ning to be directed to the sign up for the Slack service. We just need to make sure you are a SBTF volunteer. As soon as we can we’ll get you added in. Please sign up as soon as you can.

For people who are not volunteers

Why not Join the Standby Task Force

If you’d like to get in touch with us about this or any other deployment email

We’re in the UN Volunteering newsletter

During our Nepal deployment, a group of 14 UN Online Volunteers joined us. The experiences of two of them have just been published in the UN Volunteering newsletter. It’s a great article. Thanks to all the UN Volunteers who helped out.

Second 3W report: Agencies responding to Nepal

This is the second edition of the 3W report. Published May 2 2015.

We also have a low bandwidth version available. Please contact skype:fidget01 to request access.



Can you or, someone you know, help us verify reports from Nepal?

We are receiving a potentially overwhelming number of urgent requests. While in Nepal  responders have difficulty moving around. There have been occasions where a team has taken a full day to reach an area only to find other responders are already there.

This takes up time that they could be helping another village where no one has been.

We have our verification tool working now and we need to know what reports are still current.

Can you please look at the website. then send the link out to your friends, family and contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, anywhere you can think to share it. Please encourage them to share it too.


This would work well on Twitter

If you have up to date info about Nepal please visit Helps @SBTaskForce verify reports. Please RT #NepalQuakeRelief


This could work on Facebook

We are using the Verily tool to help check reports and request for help coming from Nepal.

If you have up to date info on the situation in any part of Nepal. Please keep an eye on it and see if you can help verify reports.

Please share this with your friends on Facebook.


Or share the update from our Facebook page


For more information on Verily, visit the About Verily page.

First 3W report: Agencies responding to Nepal

This is the first edition of the 3W report. Published May 2 2015.

We also have a low bandwidth version available.

We deploy online. Join us.

We’ve been receiving messages from people wanting to find out how they can get to Nepal and provide practical help with the search and rescue tasks.

Though we totally understand the urge to help, the very clear official advice is that unregistered people should not self-deploy to Nepal for search and rescue or for any other reason. Unless you work as part of a properly trained and prepared team you can put extra demands on the already strained infrastructure you may have difficulty getting food and water.

There is a process to become accredited by UN-OCHA for international USAR, there are a whole range of requirements and training issue to consider.

There are officially recognised groups and organisations with trained staff who undertake relief activities.

Ad-hoc volunteers are likely to hamper the response.

There are other ways you can help:

Help out online

You can visit the MicroMappers website and within seconds be improving the information picture on the ground.

You can join the Standby Task Force and work with hundreds of digital humanitarians across the planet.

And there are many other digital humanitarian organisations that deploy people with particular skills or interests. We encourage you to find an organisation that compliments your skill set and to simply ask how you can help. Every single person has skills to offer during an emergency. Put yours to work.

Find people

If you have direct connections to Nepal you might be able to help locate missing people using the Google Person Finder  or Facebook Safety Check.

Donate money

Many organisations in many countries have launched emergency appeals to support the relief effort in Nepal. Check out the appeals in your country to see how you could help.

Earthquake affecting Nepal

As many of you will be aware a substantial earthquake struck Nepal at 06:11 UTC today 25 April 2015. This earthquake is expected to have a high humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

Likelihood of activation

We are highly likely to be activated very soon

Please keep an eye on your emails, the Ning, Facebook and the main Skype chat.

We’ll keep you informed as the situation develops.

Sign up now

We will be asking for volunteers to join an advance team and get everything ready. If you’d like to be part of that, please use the same sign up link and tick the advance team box.

This link is only available to SBTF members.

The role of Standby Task Force

The Standby Task Force has not yet been activated.

We are in contact with key responding agencies. And we are preparing on the assumption that we will be activated

We are very aware that this comes close on the heels of two verys substantial deployments. That said, responding rapidly to humanitarian crises is what we are here for. We know you will want to apply your unique skills and capability to help the people of Nepal.

One month supporting humanitarian agencies in Vanuatu

Well over 100 volunteers from across the globe dedicated their time and skills online over the past month to support the humanitarian response in Vanuatu.

One month ago a category 5 storm swept across many of the islands that make up Vanuatu affecting 166,600 people.

Activation one

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs requested help through the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). Standby Task Force undertook two of the three tasks requested of the DHN.

Standby Task Force volunteers created a database of information needed by humanitarian aid workers based in or arriving in Vanuatu. The database contained contact details for international staff actually in Vanuatu, assessments undertaken by humanitarian agencies, relevant maps, details of which agencies across the globe said they were responding and what they were doing. Within five days the database contained over 5,000 separate pieces of information. Simon Johnson from British Red Cross created this tool which is based on some of the data in the Stadby Task Force database.

Graph to the left and a map to the right








Standby Task Force volunteers also searched for tweets about the storm. They identified pictures and videos of damage and flooding. Then they verified, categorised and mapped the images.

The resulting maps can be seen online here: and here:

Map of damage photos









The Standby Task Force stood down at 2200 UTC on Mar 22 2015.

Activation Two

We were then activated again on April 5 2015 by the Government of Vanuatu and the World Bank via the DHN. Our task on this occasion was to examine photographs taken from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that had flown over many of Vanuatu’s affected islands. Volunteers traced the outlines of damaged properties and logged the degree of damage. We used the MicroMappers platform which ensures that each picture was assessed by at least three different volunteers. Micromappers is developed by QCRI

Over 2,500 different images were assessed in this way. Volunteers identified and traced 1,696 destroyed houses, 1,298 partially damaged houses and 3,967 houses with little-to-no damage (note: these figures do not correspond to unique houses). The platform ensures that each picture is seen by at least three people so volunteers actually traced 7,500 images. This was the first time UAV tech was used for crowdsourced assessment and verification. Patrick Meier has written more about this on his blog.

The resulting maps can be seen here:

The Standby Task Force stood down at 0900 UTC on April 14 2015.

Vanuatu still needs help

The people of Vanuatu still need support from the global community. Standby Task Force volunteers have helped to strengthen and improve the humanitarian response.

The UN estimates that US$29.9m is required immediately and has launched a flash appeal.

We are a global network of digital humanitarians ready to respond at short notice to support humanitarian agencies on the ground in disaster zones to process open source data and create crisis maps and databases.

Standby Task Force Activation announced for Vanuatu / Pam

Activation for Vanuatu starts immediately

We have received an activation request from UN-OCHA via the Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN). The Core Team believes this meets our activation criteria so we are activating the Standby Task Force immediately.

We really need your help now.

Please sign up for this deployment now (only Task Force members can apply but if you’d like to join the Standby Task Force please apply)

Our deployment

We have been asked to undertake two tasks:

Task 1:

Collect operational information into a Google Doc that captures information such as Assessments, relevant documents, relevant maps, response activities, funding info, etc which is similar to the work we undertook when Hurricane Yolanda hit the Philippines.

Task 2:

Search for tweets about the storm, identify pictures and videos of damage and flooding locate, verify and categorise the content.

We’ll be using AIDR, Micromappers and Verily for this.

We will need the full range of skills from across the network.

What you should do now.

1: Join the activation by signing up here. (Don’t worry if you haven’t got much time, every minute you can give will help in this situation).

2: Join the Skype Skype chat for this activation, someone will add you as soon as they can. Once there you will be able to see the links to the working documents for this activation.

3: Start helping the people of Vanuatu by monitoring and logging information to help responders on the ground.

This is what we are for

  • What we do is unique.
  • No-one else can or will do this work for Vanuatu.
  • This is the reason the Standby Task Force was created and it is why we volunteer.
  • But it will only happen if you, I and our fellow volunteers signup and join the deployment.

Good luck.

Just in case you missed it. This is the link to sign up for this deployment.


How long will this deployment last?

At this point we think the deployment will run from 22:00 UTC, Sunday, March 15 until 23:59 UTC, Friday, March 20

This is subject to change or extension as the situation develops

What technology will we use?

This deployment will use Google documents, Skype and the Micromappers platform.

You will need to be able to access skype text chats.

Which teams or volunteers is this deployment open to?

The deployment is open to all available SBTF members.

Media Monitoring team members are strongly encouraged to participate but we will need all skillsets.

Who are the leads for this deployment?

This deployment will be led by:

This is my first deployment, should I volunteer?

Please volunteer. We need as many people as possible.

If you have any questions please ask, by sending me, the deployment leads or anyone in the core team an email or asking in the Skype chat.

We’ve put some instructions on the google documents but we’re sure they could be improved. The only way we can improve them is if people ask us when things are not clear.

I’m not sure how much time I can commit, should I volunteer?

Please volunteer. We need as many people as possible. Even if you only add one piece of data you’ll be making a difference.

The Standby Task Force relies on hundreds of volunteers working together. Some of us will have more time than others. But if you have *any* time, please help.

Keep in touch

If you’ve got any questions, comments, suggestions then drop me or anyone in the core team an email or ask in the SBTF general chat room on Skype. or

Thanks, and I’m sure all our thoughts and hopes remain with the people of Vanuatu

Ben for the Core Team



That page is over here